On Sunday, June 2, our Summer Service Immersion Youth will be with us in worship at 10 am. We have been meeting since February to learn about environmental justice and environmental racism, food scarcity and resilience, climate change and community, the power of prayer and the difference that faith makes in the struggle for civil rights and ecological justice. We have also taken a look at our own assumptions about the American south and the perspectives and experiences we each bring to this trip. We are almost ready to go. We need a blessing from this community.

Together with his wife Jordan, Ryan Cagle, our Communications Coordinator and the Director of Jubilee House, will be our host. We will stay in Parrish, AL and work hard to support the expansion of the Reclamation Garden, a community garden project that feeds many of Ryan’s neighbors in Parrish. As Ryan often says, “No one is coming to save us here in Parrish,” and this statement reflects how many young people feel about their future on a planet in distress, in a culture in turmoil. It is never more valuable for young people to witness resilience and hope in difficult times and understand that they are not powerless, that they are enough, and that they are not supposed to wrestle big problems alone. We belong to each other. 

After working to support the many ministries of Jubilee House, we will travel to Birmingham to visit the 16th Street Baptist Church and meet a survivor of the bombing that killed 4 little girls there on September 15, 1963. We will take a deep dive into the Civil Rights Movement and see what lessons there are for us now. 

We can do hard things.

Over and over again, this is what the Gospels are about: the resistance and renewal of love in the face of fear, the risky acts of radical kindness that bravely push prevailing norms. When we love and hope in times when we could otherwise choose fear and division, we become followers of Jesus. This Sunday, we will hear about how Jesus prioritized his disciples’ hunger and attempts to glean at the edge of a field over the law. We will hear about how Jesus chose to help a suffering man over the law. And he knew it would cost him everything he had to love anyway. If you are following Jesus, you already know Love wins.

We will need your prayers in these final weeks of preparation and we will need them when we are in Alabama from June 23-29. Not just because it will be awful hot, and it will be, but because the world is a distracting, glittering place for young people with smartphones and our trip will demand that we put those down and pay attention in a new way. We will be uncomfortable, we will be tired…we will step into an opportunity for God to work the earth of our hearts, for the story and life of Jesus to direct our steps, for the Holy Spirit to fill our lungs with determination and fortitude for the challenges of the week and the unknown puzzles that wait for these students as they move into adulthood. Pray for us. Not because there isn’t anything else you might do to support these students, to support Jubilee House, but because it is literally the most important thing you can do. The question I ask the group over and over is: What difference does it make? For each of us at Grace, what difference does it make to be a person of faith? I think we find out when we takes risks to love and, most often, when we pray. 

As Glennon Doyle, the author of many books about spirituality and resilience has often said, 

We belong to each other. We can do hard things. Love wins.

I’ll see you on Sunday, 

Sarah Christopher

Associate Pastor