Preludium will not be off the grid completely, but a bit preoccupied this week.
Once again, blessed by actually being involved in a lively parish with wonderful possibilities for service abounding, I am off with some of the young people of St. Peter's, Lewes, Delaware - this time ages 10-14 on a work-project mission trip to West Virginia. Some readers may remember that I was away with the older youth (14-18) to Navajoland and Hopi land last month. We are fortunate enough to have a group of new youth coming up, as they say, and ready to go on faith journeys.
We don't quite know our assignment yet, but something to do with refurbishing housing. We will be working with a team from World Vision. As usual the real work is not being some sort of goody two-shoes to people in West Virginia but rather companions with those we meet as they engage the concerns in their lives. Hopefully the youth from St. Peter's will come to know Christ present in those they meet.
Mission is on some important level a natural outgrowth of the Incarnation. If God is present in the world in Jesus, in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and if Jesus was just as we are (yet without sin) then in some way, even in the sin and various small deaths in our lives we ought to be able to find God present, Jesus present, in all we meet. Finding God in new places and living with Jesus Christ present in the stranger is mission... being sent out to see where God is now.
Once we have seen Jesus, God present with us, we are doomed to going out and seeing the face of Jesus in those we meet and come to know. And, in that context - the context of knowing and meeting and caring - the Good News is realized. The Good News is that God has already been there and love those people, and therefore we too can go there and love them, and somehow in the mutuality of that encounter, God's saving Grace is realized.
Well, that's incomplete, of course, and limited, and it is late at night. But it is true: Mission is going out there and knowing that Jesus, God with us, is present with us, until the end of the age, primarily in the face of the stranger who has become friend.
Perhaps something of all this will get to the young people we are with, perhaps it will hit some of us elders. There are four of us on this trip, eager to learn and grow with the youth and glad to be part of this work.
And meanwhile, these young people are a blessing to us all.