Yesterday epitomized the heart of St John’s, and our call to be a Beacon of Hope in the heart of our city.
Yesterday during The Largest Table lunch, we served a woman and the six very young children she is caring for this summer (three are her children; three are her sister's children). The children were all very hungry, and our church members pitched in to make sure that each young child received a meal and some needed attention. In addition to the lunch team, Joan gave the children picture books during the meal. Nan and niece Sharon provided hospitality at the table, as the children settled in to eat their much needed lunch.
Then we noticed something. One of the little boys was wearing a towel around his waist. A towel. He is four years old. And he had no pants or shorts to wear. None.
So after lunch, we took the young boy up to The Open Shelter, and found him some nice shorts. We found clothes for the other children too, plus more food and lunches for the family to take home.
This experienced wrenched a hole in the hearts of all who were involved yesterday. And this family was a stark reminder at the start of the summer season that we have children in Columbus who have no clothes, no food, no stability in their lives. Often The Largest Table program is the first step forward for some families to find help when they are overwhelmed, when they don’t have a school lunch program and other resources to meet the needs of the children during the summer.
May each of us continue to keep our hearts open and our minds ready as God provides more and more ways for us to serve in this city. Yesterday’s experience reminded each of us of our power to make a real difference for a child, one meal (and one pair of shorts), at a time.
On Sunday, I will continue to explore this theme of making a difference in my sermon entitled “Hope in a Seed.” Our Scripture texts are Psalm 20 and Mark 4:26-34. Our Gospel reading is the familiar parable from Jesus when he compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. We live in a time when the role of the Christian Church in the larger world is changing, and some have become pessimistic. Is the faith crop going to fail? Are the seeds of faith we’ve spread actually growing or not?
Well, here at St John’s, we know that God is at work in our world! So we are learning new ways of being Church in a changing world, as we experience the awesome power of mustard seed faith. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”
One more wonder at St John’s this season is the PRIDE Parade in two weeks! The Stonewall Columbus PRIDE Parade 2015 will take place on Saturday, June 20. Columbus is preparing for an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 participants and spectators in this year’s parade in downtown Columbus.
St John’s will again march as a church with our other Open and Affirming United Church of Christ Sister Churches in Central Ohio. We are so grateful for the hard work of Pastor Rachael and her team in making all of the necessary arrangements this year! Please contact Pastor Rachael directly if you would like to volunteer to help build this year’s float, prepare the breakfast for the marchers, obtain a pink UCC PRIDE t-shirt, or otherwise volunteer to help.
More than 250 UCC’ers will accompany our UCC float in the Parade from ten local churches. On Saturday, from 9:00-10:00am, we'll meet in the Fellowship Hall for breakfast and then head down to the parade route together around 10:30 am with our UCC float. The parade will step off at 11am.
Parade organizers have told us that more churches from all faith traditions will be marching in this year’s parade than any year in the past 30 years! We are proud to be part of a faith tradition — and a church — that stand for affirming the universal human dignity of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters! More information about this event in Columbus is available at www.ColumbusPride.org, and www.StonewallColumbus.org.
With abundant HOPE for our transformative future,