I've been back from Wyoming and our middle school mission trip for almost a week, and whew! What an awesome time we had! Colton Leibbrand, Lucas Gardner and I joined 3 youth and 2 adults from Heart of the Rockies Christian Church for a week of service in Laramie, Wyoming.
Each day began with a time of centering as we practiced Lectio Divina* together focused on a scripture text for the day. Each day closed with worship, as we processed all that we had learned and how God had been present with and even working through us and those around us that day.
What a gift to book-end our day with grounding spiritual practices, with times of connection, reflection and gratitude. How we begin and end our day, the time we take for relationship, reflection, slowing down and simply being present matter. It helps us frame our experiences, it impacts the story that we are telling ourselves while engaging with the world and as we prepare for rest.
And I have to say, the 5 middle schoolers who participated in this mission trip were better at doing this than most. They were willing and able to settle their bodies and minds for this time. They easily connected the scripture to what we were doing together as well as to things they had experienced in their lives at home and at school and with friends. They chose to be vulnerable, to be honest, to share the truest parts of themselves.
What a gift. What a gift to spend a week with young people who already have tremendous life experience and who have not yet developed all of the filters and guards that can make it hard for us to go deep as adults.
Once again, I am pretty confident that I received from these young people far more than I gave them -- in terms of wisdom, joy, silliness, courage, compassion and simply a desire to bring good to the world around them. I hope you have a chance to get to know our youth better -- why not strike up a conversation before or after worship. Ask about church camp. Or mission trips. What they're up to. What is new in their lives. Let me tell you, I believe you will be inspired by the gifts that they share.
This Sunday, we will be reflecting on what it means to be a denomination and a congregation that learns together and that is on a life-long journey of learning. I hope to share about some of my experiences and learnings on this last mission trip.
I am holding so many of you in my prayers as you begin the school year (for our teachers, staff and college students) and for families preparing to send their children/grandchildren off to school. AND bring your school bags to worship on Sunday so we can bless them!
Love and peace,