The following is the note I wrote for Peakland Pages, the monthly newsletter at Peakland United Methodist in Lynchburg.
In a seminary class we were asked to identify five theological rocks that grounded our ministry. These “rocks” were to be the things behind why we did what we did in ministry. I could only think of two: love God and love each other. For me, this is the bottom line of the gospel.
It has been almost seven months since I have been to L’Arche in Lynchburg for Spiritual Life Night. I went tonight and it was like a homecoming of sorts. I was invited to stay and sing (not realizing that was why I was there). I was asked about baby J and Megan. There were bright smiles and huge hugs.
Then, without instruction or directions, chairs became to circle up and we all took our places. The red song books were handed out, and one by one we sang each person’s favorite hymn. It was gloriously out of tune. And it was awesome! Through “I’ve Got the Joy” and “Amazing Grace,” we made a joyful noise.
These are not always the first words used to describe a Vacation Bible School. You are more likely to hear words like loud, chaotic, messy. But that was not the chance at Peakland last week. While talking to Kristin, our VBS director at Peakland, she said, “My goal was for someone, somewhere, to have a spiritual experience.”
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34.
The other night our youth group served a meal at Park View Community Mission. In Lynchburg 24% of the population lives in poverty. Every Wednesday evening, Park View hosts volunteer groups like our youth group who serve a free meal to anyone who shows up during the serving times.
There were whites and African-Americans. There were young and old. There were homeless and working poor. There were those with disabilities and there were those without.
At the 2014 Virginia Annual Conference, the conference comprised of clergy and laity voted to support the United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria initiative. The Virginia Conference set a goal to raise enough funds to save 100,000 lives in a year. Those in attendance at Annual Conference may remember Bishop Young Jin Cho leading everyone in the “Happy” dance. If you missed it, you can watch the celebration here.
Each congregation has been encouraged to raise awareness and funds for Imagine No Malaria. This past Sunday at Peakland United Methodist, the Mission Kids (students who are in third-fifth grades) met and discussed what malaria is. Malaria seems like something that we shouldn’t worry about. Malaria was eliminated in the United States in the 1950s. However, in other parts of the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is a top killer, killing a person every 60 seconds.