A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Finding God in things miraculous and mundane

It's Wednesday and mission trip is in full swing. We have served both of the locations we go to. The Bridges has the corner with the highest concentration of human trafficking in the Southeast. The Bluff has the corner with highest percentage of prostitution in ATL. These locations are also home to thousands of people and hundreds of families. Two communities in a city of millions.

That is what I'm coming to think of as sleeping bags under bridges, burnt out squatters houses and apartments that cost their inhabitants every penny they earn to hold onto. It is both tragic and inspiring at the same time.
Tragic in that none should have to live like this. We can talk politics and theology all we want, but no one deserves to live like this.
The inspiring part is two fold. The first are the people we have met this week. Out of this mess they have created community. They are known by and know each other. Their world looks so different, but they are, in so many ways, us. Flawed children of God doing our best each day to live a life worth living.

The Bluffs looks similar to the neighborhood I grew up in. It's hard too see, but if you look past the boarded up façade and look at the architecture, the churches and the street names, you can see I t. Yesterday, in the Bluffs, something unexpected happened to me. The ritual is to bring "sandwiches and Jesus" to the neighborhoods. The residents come to us and we talk with them and pray with them. We play with the kids and sings sing, load up and go to the next community. James must not have gotten the memo.

James was an older man who graciously accepted the meal, but responded to my question about prayer request with the request to pray for the group of us standing near him. Of course! His prayer was simply Psalm 27...its below, at the bottom of the post. Read it with the voice of a man on the edge of losing everything. I dare you. Once you've stopped sobbing, come back. We'll wait...

...how'd you do?

The other inspiration this week is how our youth have responded. This is challenging work. This is awkward work. You aren't sure what to say or do. It is overwhelming, to say the least. They have blessed in ways large and small. To watch them play with kids and pray with adults and do the work involved with joy and peace. I am in love with these young women and men. I've always kept an arm length away from them. They are my sons peers. I'm no longer in the ministry business. I didn't really know most of them when we left. I do know and love them. In case I haven't made it clear, I love them!

As for the mundane. It is sometimes difficult to see God in the talkativeness of seven young men when all I want to do is sleep. Or in a sunburned head and sore feet. Or the air mattress that has been my home for the past few days. But he is there if I'm willing to humbly look for him.

Psalm 27 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Psalm 27

The Lord delivers and vindicates me!
I fear no one!
The Lord protects my life!
I am afraid of no one!
When evil men attack me
to devour my flesh,
when my adversaries and enemies attack me,
they stumble and fall.
Even when an army is deployed against me,
I do not fear.
Even when war is imminent,
I remain confident.
I have asked the Lord for one thing—
this is what I desire!
I want to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life,
so I can gaze at the splendor of the Lord
and contemplate in his temple.
He will surely give me shelter in the day of danger;
he will hide me in his home;
he will place me on an inaccessible rocky summit.
Now I will triumph
over my enemies who surround me!
I will offer sacrifices in his dwelling place and shout for joy!
I will sing praises to the Lord!
Hear me, O Lord, when I cry out!
Have mercy on me and answer me!
My heart tells me to pray to you,
and I do pray to you, O Lord.
Do not reject me!
Do not push your servant away in anger!
You are my deliverer!
Do not forsake or abandon me,
O God who vindicates me!
10 Even if my father and mother abandoned me,
the Lord would take me in.
11 Teach me how you want me to live;
lead me along a level path because of those who wait to ambush me!
12 Do not turn me over to my enemies,
for false witnesses who want to destroy me testify against me.
13 Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience
the Lord’s favor in the land of the living?
14 Rely on the Lord!
Be strong and confident!
Rely on the Lord!

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