Monday, August 11, 2008

This morning I had a visit from our Treasurer, Doug McArthur. He is a profound repository of the wisdom and experiences of Trinity Church, and he came into my office with a gift that has given me both pause and the opportunity to reflect on how, in the kingdom of God as well as in the kingdoms of human expectations, the more things change-the more they stay the same. For human kingdoms, that sadly means that we too often repeat the gaffes and errors of the struggle to fix problems once and for all-while at the same time NOT seeking to amend the practices that got us there in the first place. Fixing the surface does nothing. Real change comes with deep conversion. That brings us to the way God seems to be willing to keep putting before us opportunities to remember who we are called to become in following Christ, to call us back time and again to opportunities that we forget or forbear...and finally to reimagine what it means to relate to each other in Christ, and in prayer and service to the world.

That is a high way of saying that Doug brought in an old letter about a Lenten fund drive that the Mission Committee of Trinity invited the parish to participate in back in 1968-40 years ago. Here is the text of that letter, beside a photo (an escuela in San Andre Itzapan) of the current opportunity to serve Christ that is before the parish:

"three amigos with toothbrush"
Trinity Church
Solebury, PA
February 26, 1968

Dear Family of Trinity,

During the Lenten season, we of Trinity will turn our attention more than ever to the needs of others--with special emphasis on the Episcopal Mission at Lake Izabal, Guatemala. Our children are asked to bring with them to their church school classes on Sunday, March 3, EITHER one pencil with colored lead, OR one small pencil sharpener OR one small pencil eraser. These will be taken to the children of the mission by the Sellers and Scott McArthur (Doug's son) who will visit Guatemala in March.

We also are looking for wall maps, inflatable world globes, plastic kits of the Visible Man [remember those?-MKS+] series, and other compact, lightweight, classroom teaching tools. If anyone has such items, please bring them to church on Sunday, March 3rd, to any of the services.

Those who heard the Dreyer family speak about the Guatemalan situation and the work of the church were greatly impressed not only by the developing crisis and needs, but by the value of our dollars spent there in support of the mission program. The church brings not only medical assistance and education, but hope for a better future for the children of the Lake Izabal region and dignity and self-respect for the adults.

During Lent, our children will be using their mite boxes and this offering will go in part to start a library at one of the mission schools. We suggest that we adults follow our children's example, either by using our own mission boxes or by using the Trinity Mission envelopes that will be found in the church. The monies so collected will be used to purchase necessary tools, or, if our offering is large enough, to purchase supplies for a cultural center at Puerto Barrios.

Faithfully,

"M" Committee [Mission Committee-MKS+]

This letter jibes so closely with where we find ourselves today in our relationships with the Companion Diocese ministry of the Dioceses of PA and Guatemala...and with our sister relationship with the Iglesia Santa Maria Madre de Dios in Solala. This year, it was toothbrushes supplied by our 4th and 5th grade Church School classes instead of pencils, but I think you get the point.

Only a couple of years ago, we supplied the money (raised in just fifteen minutes after a church service) for a local school in Solala to purchase desks for the children who studied there. On this year's trip, our youth pooled their spending money in order to allow the school at which we performed a dental care training event (a la our own Tabasamu model!) to repair a roof that had been leaking badly for over 17 years. They raised over $500 last week on their own to make that project happen!

What is so spiritually moving about this letter from 1968 is that we are watching our youth perform that same witness of outreach and mission. Trinity's history of learning from, and following the lead of, our youth in their discovery of a life in Christ is the key thing here. God continues to bless us richly, and I give thanks that there is such a synergy of sacred energy filling the parish at this time in our lives together.

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