So today I will be using a sermon to describe my ESC year so far. This was used 2 weeks ago at St.Peter’s in Basalt,CO:
“Good morning. How are we doing this morning? Feeling good? Alright, cool. So today I want to share with you a little about me and my experiences. .Today is mainly about my time here in ESC, my life and how it has influenced my faith.
I am originally from Alabama and I am an intern at the Boys & Girls’ Club of Steamboat Springs. Like the kids at the club, I had family traditions that I followed. Ever since I was a kid I had church as part of my life, it was something we did on most Sundays. My parents chose the Episcopal denomination, why? Not sure, you’ll have to ask them. But with that being said, the church influenced my life in so many ways. I was introduced to volunteering & service, social outings with the church youth group, music & theatre, etc. The church was more than just a place of worship, it was a thriving community.
I am fortunate to have had the support and positive role models in my life that influenced my decision to join ESC. From teachers to youth ministers, to coaches and friends. My biggest influence is my mom.My mom is the daughter of two deaf educators. My grandparents worked with people who would not be considered in the margins. My mom followed a similar path and became a teacher herself. Some time later she became a massage therapist and physically gave herself to many different people in hopes that she can provide healing. From my mom’s journey she showed me the art of giving: to give yourself to your fellow man. In my life, this forms in volunteer service. Last year, I started my service in a 10 month Americorps program. I won’t talk much about Americorps, other than it was part of my service journey. After Americorps, I was prepared to take on another position, but it did not pan out. I was distraught, my plan did not turn out the way I’d hoped. So, I decided to get back in the game and search for other service opportunities. On January 2016, I found such an opportunity.
In general an intern for ESC works 32-35 hours a week with a local non-profit, dedication to Christian Formation, daily prayer and in our case here in Colorado living by a rule of life in community. Each ESC program is different across the country. Some programs are older like Philadelphia and Los Angeles while some are young and growing; like Colorado. We are fortunate to have a total of 9 members: 5 in Denver and 4 in Steamboat Springs. We’re currently in our 3rd year and are continuing to increase the ESC awareness across the Diocese. Some of you may have seen us or our table at the Convention. This was an experience that I was proud to be apart of this year. But, I would be lying if I said that this year did not have any challenges.
I decided to leave my home, travel somewhere I have never been to before, and chose to live with others from across the country in intentional community. This is not new for me, but I still find it challenging.
New challenges include : adjusting to a new work environment. I do not have inherent office experience or experience with youth development, but my job demands both and that has not stopped me and I continue to persevere. Everyday there are kids who challenge me. The joy in that is those are the ones who need the most help. I always think about why I do this: about why I am doing this job, and in the large part, why am I in ESC.
My belief is that every person should volunteer his/her time to give back to a community in need. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to the person sitting next to you, and the person next to him/her, and so on and so forth. because in my opinion we are one people, and as such we must do everything we can to serve each other, even if we are stretched beyond our limits.
Not only this country, but in this world, we have many similarities that bind us together. Eating , laughing, crying, having families, even prayer/meditation.
As I stated earlier going to church was part of my life, so I’m used to it. During my journey I’ve discovered that while that the church is not perfect, there is still to this day a powerful source of community that I believe is unmatched. Like Christianity, I’ve met extraordinary people who defy all logic. In January 2015, I witnessed an event that I never imagined attending: the rector’s funeral. His name was Mark Wilson. He was the rector of St.James from the late 90s until his death. I was singing in the choir at the time. I processed, sang, and watched the coffin follow the other priests down the aisle. I had never seen so many people.In the crowd were family members, friends, colleagues, and people that I did not know who came to say goodbye to Mark. It was as if Easter came early. What I learned from this instance is that we can leave an incredible impact on many people. Most of whom we do not even know.
There are two takeaways from the Beatitudes. The first takeaway is that Jesus is talking about people who are not thought highly of or “marginalized”; poor in spirit , who mourn, the meek, the peacemakers, merciful, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness sake. These are individuals who are considered without hope or lost; those who are cast away. This sermon sets the tone for all of Jesus’ radical ministry. These words set forth the action of the Good Samaritan, of Jesus being blessed by a sinful woman. And these set forth the action of what we do today. Though this is a different century, I still see kids who are considered “marginalized”. I see the kids who come from families that are not as fortunate as others.
The second is the idea of being “Blessed”. One definition of “bless” is that God finding favor. Jesus found favor in these people. I do my best to find favor in all the kids. What’s even better is that the kids do not understand the economic disparity before them. That is a true blessing in itself.
So, today before you I am proud to say we as ESC members are not only a living image of the Beatitudes, but today’s lesson as well.. We are the action item that extends Jesus’ ministry. You don’t have to take it from me, but please listen to the stories of my fellow ESC members. Hear their stories, see how each one of us follows pursuit of the ministry. I hope that my story leaves you with a better awareness of ESC, and that it has impacted your life. And if it has, that you consider also how you are living and can better live into the image of the Beatitudes. That is the hope that I have with this year, the Boys and Girls Club, my housemates, and to my fellow man.”
The lesson I refer to is Matthew 5:1-11 entitled the Beatitudes. I do hope that we all are able to live out our lives in these words and that we continue to strive, no matter the obstacle.