The Pastor's Peace - August, 2013
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Towards the end of July several of our church members went on a mission trip to Washington UCC in Cincinnati. We spent 5 days there and experienced a range of situations and emotions, and learned some life lessons. Washington UCC is a church in our denomination that serves the Camp Washington neighborhood. This area of Cincinnati has a child poverty rate of 90% and is in great need in so many ways. Washington UCC decided as its membership dwindled to focus almost solely on mission work in the area rather than close or move the church. Each summer there is a program that ministers to around 35 kids from the area. Different churches come and stay a week, volunteering with the children. This teaches much to the kids in need, and equally as much to those doing the volunteer work.

When I think of our group and all of our experiences from handing out food to those in homelessness, to watching kids eat smores for the first time, to sharing laughs and smiles from all around, I realized that the things that separate us are not as large as we would presume. Even though some of these kids experience poverty on a daily basis in ways we cannot imagine, they are still kids at heart, no different from the kids that come to our church each Sunday. All of us have challenges to face in life, some are greater than others, but this does not make us any better than the next person or more valuable in the eyes of God. Most often it is assumed that the
youth and adults that volunteer at Washington UCC will learn how fortunate they are and learn to appreciate the blessings in their life. I certainly learned this and assumed others from our group did as well, but even more than that I hope that people saw themselves and their family in the eyes of others.

Paul says that we are all connected in the Body of Christ. We are also reminded that Christ was born, died, and lived again for everyone. When we look at the ministry of Christ we see that he brought so many different types of people together. What seemed to separate them fell away in comparison to the love of God and the Word made flesh. As we continue Christ’s ministry on earth it is meaningful when we create communities that express the unity of Christ. As I think about our days at Washington UCC, I think about all of the moments when people were just people.

We were just taking care of kids, meeting new acquaintances, and trying to fill the summer with meaningful experiences. This lack of separation appearing many times during our 5 days made me know that Christ was present. Christ was amongst us, bringing people together, calling the little children around him, and leading us to a better future. Thank you, Beaver UCC and Washington UCC, for showing me yet again the presence of Christ in my life.

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Brian