We return from our mission trip changed and maybe even transformed. Today, we offer stories from the journey, reflections on our fellow travelers, gratitude for the return home. We will have special music and even a different version of the Lord’s Prayer that hopefully reflects much of what we will experience while away.
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for[e] a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
A PDF of the sermon as distributed at Calvary is available for download and printing.
“So, I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
And so, we have the three foundational pieces of mission. Ask, search and knock. The first is easy, second in a world with Google is also less complicated than it used to be but the knocking? That is where the hard part presents itself. We are not all that comfortable with knocking. We have our reasons I suppose. We don’t know those people or sometimes, we aren’t comfortable with that neighborhood, city, place. But knock is indeed what we must do.
This year found us in central Washington state in the city of Spokane or, more accurately in Wellpinit. We were staying on tribal land in a beautiful compound referred to as the Powwow grounds. The area around us was not well populated but it was a place of unimaginable beauty. Mountain vistas and valleys, rough plains that were cut out of the earth by the movement of tectonic plates, great pieces of ice, grandeur that staggered the imagination.
There were 23 of us from Calvary Presbyterian Church, St. John’s Presbyterian Church and Temple Sherith Israel gathered with a church from Southern California and another church from Tacoma, Washington. Our days were structured around work, spiritual development and prayer.
Yes, prayer. Our mornings began with spiritual awakening and after one of those sessions, one of the young men asked me why I closed my eyes when I pray if God was everywhere and I am still thinking about that. And it wasn’t just prayer but having an attitude of prayer. That phrase was used a lot this week and I believe that it is the perfect way to talk to youth about what it means to pray. We get so lost in the words we want to use that we sometimes forget why we are doing it.
The work day was demanding, the weather challenging; so many things that might wear one down but every time I thought I was exhausted, I received grace in the form of a smile, a hug, an encouraging word or even a middle school joke. If you don’t know what I mean by that, come find me and I’ll explain more. The point is that if we do the easy work of asking and searching, the hard work of knocking, God will walk you through the rest. We are infinitely capable if we refuse to accept our limitations. And don’t just take my word for that.
You’ve heard me talk about this before and will hear me talk about it again, but we are blessed with extraordinary young people. They are grace givers and receivers and speak about these things in words of wisdom that humble me. So, with that, let’s hear from two of them about their experience this past week. Let me introduce Indira Herrera who will be followed by Will Parker.
Writer and theologian Frederick Buechner has this to say about prayer:
“Pray to him, is what I am saying. In whatever words you have. And if the little voice that is inside all of us as the inheritance of generations of unfaith, if this little voice inside says, ‘But I don’t believe. I don’t believe,’ don’t worry too much. Just keep on anyway. ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief’ is the best any of us can do really but thank God it is enough.”
Our week was one of keeping on. In the face of inclement weather, difficult work, tedious labor and way too much to do, we persevered. And we were able to do so because we were blessed with an abundance of the type of grace that only comes from God.
Please don’t hurry from Calvary today but instead find one of our youth who was on the mission trip and ask them about their week. What it meant to them, how it felt to be with them and maybe even how it feels to be home. They are our present and our future and if this week was any indication, there is hope to be found for all.