The cartoon The Wizard of Id, a cartoon I grew up reading as a kid (in something called a newspaper) is running a series of cartoons entitled “Six Things You Should Do This Summer”. In one of the cartoons, set in medieval times, two soldiers are high-fiving each other after setting off their catapult. The object they have shot is about to land on the king and his aide, and the caption says, “Throw a water balloon.” That is good advice for summer. Throw a water balloon. The point is that it’s different than what’s expected. It’s new. It’s fun, and it’s certainly less harmful than the expected boulder. What are five more things you could do this summer that might bring a little splash into your life, that would be different than what’s expected of you so that your summer might be more meaningful, new, different?
Our church is doing some things that are different and new as a part of our six things this summer. We are hosting and leading Vacation Bible School at our church this summer for an estimated 100 kids who will learn about G-Force: God’s Love in Action. We are sending a team of high school youth and adults to New Jersey to work on Hurricane Sandy Relief. We are doing Green Faith audits around our church (thanks to a PC(USA) grant and our mission budget) to see how we care for creation with our building and ministry. We are sending a team of adults and youth to the Dominican Republic to work on various projects there. In September, our Middle School Youth Group with adult supervision is going to Stony Point Conference Center to learn about farming and food justice for three days. And, hopefully, our sixth event of the summer will be rest, rest during the vacations we take, rest in our worship together, rest in our fellowship, resting to know the presence of God in new ways. None of these is quite like throwing a water balloon, but maybe we’ll throw one sometime during these events.
More importantly, all of these activities are new and different ways we can live our mission as FPC Yorktown to “Connect with God, One Another and the World.” Each of them in their own way invites us to see what God is doing in new ways and places, how God wants to work in and through us, and how we can learn from others about our connections to God, one another and the world. Each of them invites us to have open minds and hearts and learn from others about their lives and culture. We aren’t just fixing people in these events; we are learning about the lives of others and what it means to know them and be known by them. Each of them invites us as a church to see how our ministry connects with the world around and beyond us which God loves so much.
We do all of this because of something Jesus said to his disciples. “Go on your way. See, I am sending you out…” (Luke 10:3a). One fundamental characteristic of disciples of Jesus Christ is that they go out because Jesus sends them. To be stationary too long is to become ineffective for the gospel of Jesus Christ. To connect with God, one another and the world is to be actively involved in the work God is doing. So, Jesus calls us to ask, “What is God doing? How are we getting involved in it? How is our ministry on the go, sending us out to share the good news?” When Jesus’ words begin to take hold, it won’t be just a one-week Vacation Bible School or week-long mission trips in which we live his words. Everything we do will be about embodying them, from church school to youth ministry, from adult education to worship to our year-round work to serve our community. You and I will go. We will do these things because God has sent us to be with children and youth. God has sent us to be with the poor, lonely, and the left out. God has sent us to be a place where the broken find healing. The Bible has a word for people who understand their lives and faith as being sent by Jesus. Apostle. The Greek word means “sent”.
What six things are doing this summer to be on the go, to be a disciple who understands that Jesus sends you? How will you live your calling to be an apostle of Jesus Christ with a living and active faith? I’m looking forward to hearing how you answer those questions and what God does in and through you.