By Amanda Highben
There is a perception for some that churches “rest” in the summer, taking a break from their usual activities and ministry endeavors. This is true to a degree. For example, the choirs and Sunday school classes for children are on hiatus until September, as many families are on vacation or traveling to see out-of-state loved ones.
However, our worship life continues, for when we come to worship, the Holy Spirit grounds us in our identities as the baptized children of God. And, together as one people, we confess our sins, receive Christ’s forgiveness, hear the Word of God proclaimed, share Christ’s peace with one another, receive the Sacrament of Communion, praise God through our music, and go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord.
As Dorothy Bass writes in her book Receiving the Day: “The Christian Sabbath is a gift that has ancient roots, and it is a gift best received in community. Opening it, we find not only time but also the stories, the meals, the gatherings, and the songs that prepare us to cherish creation, to resist slavery in all its forms, and to proclaim new life all week long.”
Just as we don’t take a break from worship in the summer, we also don’t rest in our efforts to share the life-giving love of Christ with the youngest disciples in our midst: our children and youth. For example, you may not have known this, but. . .
St. John’s is sending 12 youth to Lutheran Memorial Camp in June and July, some of whom will be first-time campers! Camp, as many of you know, provides a sacred, safe—and, of course, fun!—space where kids grow in their faith and love for Jesus. On a related note, thank you to all who helped lower the cost for our campers by attending one—or all!—of our 4 dinners this Spring. We raised $1,340 total, which averages about $110 per camper, in addition to the $100 “campership” each child receives through our Community Caring Ministry.) We pray that God will bless all of our campers with a wonderful and grace-filled experience!
July likewise features two of our most essential ministries with and for youth: Vacation Bible School and Amazing Grace Day Camp (now in its 13th year). Both of these are team efforts and the support of our entire congregation is needed so that they might flourish. If you haven’t volunteered in the past, this is your chance to see God’s love at work in the lives of children who are curious and enthusiastic about Jesus’ story. If you choose to help, don’t be surprised if your faith is strengthened and renewed in the process.
Finally, when you receive this issue of the Chimes I’ll be just a few weeks away from my July 31 due date. Zeb and I still have much to do before then, but as the day nears we’re becoming more and more excited and, not surprisingly, a bit nervous. Please keep us and Baby Highben in your prayers! After my delivery, I’ll have six weeks off to recover and begin to learn what it means to be a Mom, but until then, I’ll be serving alongside you in St. John’s summer ministry activities.
May we all have refreshing and Christ-filled summers!
God’s Peace, Amanda