This past week, I had the privilege of going on a mission trip to downtown Houston with the St. Alban’s youth group. I had a blast getting to know Jericha, Alex, Diane, Travis, and John. They are wonderful kids – the future of the church is in good hands.
We did everything from serving meals to the hungry, organizing school supplies for needy kids, distributing groceries to deserving families, clearing invasive species from Buffalo Bayou, and having a whole lot of fun along the way. I know that each one of us came away from this experience with a different view on life, and a greater appreciation for the blessing of family and friends on every side.
Theologically, I tried to drive one point home to the youth group during our trip. Especially when we were serving meals, I told them to think about our Eucharist and how the example of that service should give us the image of service to others. So, when Diane was serving up grits to the hungry and homeless, I asked her to think “Body of Christ, bread of heaven.” When Jericha was distributing glasses of orange juice, I encouraged her to say to herself, “Blood of Christ, cup of salvation.”
Our worship as Episcopalians is the model for how we are to serve. No wonder that we call it a “service.” We must take that image of Jesus giving everything he had, spiritual and physical, for the nourishment of his followers, and even the one who betrayed him. In that sense, even when the clients at these ministry sites were gruff or angry, I reminded the kids that Jesus broke bread and shared wine even with Judas, who was far more than gruff or angry.
My prayer is that Jericha, Alex, Diane, John, and Travis take this image with them as they return to school. Our worship is service, and service is worship.