Co-Leading this year’s High School Mission Trip to Pine Ridge Reservation with Joel Morien, our Director for Youth Ministry, was exhilarating, exciting, moving, emotional, and exhausting. Finally, a week later, I feel recovered from the trip. But I hope I never get over it; never get over the closeness we felt with our group, the nearness we felt to God’s presence, and the deeper we felt our faith to be. And I hope I will never get over the lessons we all learned on the trip.
One lesson that I talked about last Sunday had to do with Christian community. You spend a week of living together and you discover a lot about each other: Who takes longer showers? Who sneaks snacks at night? Who cheats at cards? Who never seems to get tired? Who never seems to get discouraged? Who has digestive challenges? Who takes meds? Who snores? Who is always first in line for the bathroom? These are all things we found out about one another last week. All these things previously fell under the category of TMI – Too Much Information. When you get that information, what you find out is that so many people, when you really get to know them, are deeply strange.
Dietrich Bonhoffer wrote about this in his lovely little book, Life Together: “God did not make this person as I would have made him (or her)…(and) God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image… I can never know beforehand how God’s image should appear in others. That image always manifests a completely new and unique form that comes solely from God’s free and sovereign creation…”
After a week of living, working, worshiping, and laughing together, here’s what we learned: it means a great deal to have someone other than your family discover these strange things about you and love you anyway. That’s probably the most important lesson from our trip. We are loved by God no matter what, and we can be loved by others no matter how strange we may be.
Your friend and fellow stranger,
Rev. Steve Savides
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