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What is God calling you to do?

Pastor Sue Koenig
Graceham Moravian Church

(9/2016) Where is God calling you? What is God calling you to do? Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you." (John 20:21) Where is Jesus sending you? Followers of Jesus are increasingly looking for opportunities to be "doers of the word, not hearers only," and they are finding a multitude of ways to serve others together in the name of Jesus. Mission is being been embraced by Christians of all ages and traditions, and people are being called and sent quite literally "to the ends of the earth!"

The Renewed Moravian Church celebrates the founding of Moravian missions on August 21, 1732, the day of the departure of the first Moravian missionaries from Herrnhut, Germany for St. Thomas in the West Indes; and the beginning of Moravian missions and of the modern missionary movement of the Protestant church.

A new understanding of the importance of mission for the Christian life, and the joy, growth and transformation it brings through the Holy Spirit to those who offer themselves in service to one another, and who open their hearts and ears to hear another's story – is renewing and transforming both the church and the world – in God's small, quiet, kingdom ways.

Here are just a few examples of the exciting ways Jesus has called and sent his followers this summer:

The Eastern District of the Moravian Church held its 2016 Synod in Bethlehem, PA from June 22-25. The scripture for the Synod was from Matthew 25, and the theme was "To Us, To Us, This Task is Given." On Thursday, June 23, about 150 Synod delegates and 25 youth fondly known as "The Mission Mob," were sent out to serve across the Lehigh Valley – in food pantries and shelters, Meals on Wheels, nursing care facilities, children's camps, prisons, more than 25 sites in all – to care for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the homeless, and those in prison. Where each delegate was to serve was determined by "lot" - we prayed and then drew a card with the name of a mission site from a basket. No one (but drivers) knew where they were going on Thursday morning until Wednesday afternoon! Over and over again, delegates remarked that the Holy Spirit had sent them exactly where they needed to be to grow in their Christian faith! On Wednesday evening, delegates in teams had a marvelous time competing as they assembled and packaged 32,000 meals, all of which were sent to Haiti on Thursday!

The week after Synod, we welcomed an amazing group of students from Gongaza College High School in Washington, DC who came with teachers and student leaders to serve in mission to us – here in northern Frederick County! Their mission sites were coordinated through Seton Center, with whom they have been in partnership for more than 20 years.

They participated in the Thurmont Ministerium's Summer Lunch program where they served lunch and played ball with the children – which was thoroughly enjoyed by all; they pulled weeds and raked a garden that provides produce for a community meal and the Thurmont Food Bank; and they went bowling with students from the ARC. Other mission sites included Mother Seton School, Seton Center’s Communal Garden, Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve and twenty elderly or low-income neighbors in need of general landscaping or household maintenance. For example, they served on the working farm of a widow in Fairfield, helping the family to store hay, pull weeds, etc. and were able to experience milking a goat.

There was also time built in to share faith experiences and practices, and our histories; and to talk about life in our community and ways in which people of faith are collaborating to address issues of poverty and discrimination. The students' ministry and conversations were transformative and inspirational, and new relationships are being forged that will indeed, by the power of the Holy Spirit, transform the world as the students continue to make mission part of a "Rule of Life" and incorporate Christian service in and through their lives' work.

The last week of June, the Graceham Moravian Church sent 11 senior high youth and adults on its 19th annual Senior High Mission Trip. The Mission Team traveled to Elizabeth City, NC where they joined 19 youth groups from 12 different states to serve on 66 crews and work on 44 homes, 394 participants in all! Team members met their "resident," heard their stories, and developed new friendships while building ramps and repairing homes inside and out.

In the Group Workcamps program, residents are invited to have lunch and take part in afternoon devotions, and it is often in these moments of sharing that people become simultaneously those serving and those being served, as hearts and minds are transformed by God's grace and love, instilling life- and world-changing empathy and compassion.

In August, I joined a mission team that served in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, where six of us from four Moravian churches – in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland – painted the garage of an elderly couple, and the stairwell of a woman with a broken ankle whose husband had died suddenly. Late on Friday afternoon, we were encouraged and inspired to "finish the job" by the youngest member of our group – a young woman who steadily worked on homework for her soon-to-begin tenth grade school year while we drove – who was willing to sacrifice dinner and a trip to beach to ensure that the painting was complete!

Our young companion was thrilled to hear from a friend who returned that day from a Young Adults mission trip to Cuba. And speaking of Cuba, at a meeting of the Catoctin Community Medical Fund in August, past Board president, John Maschmeiser announced that he and his wife, Nancy will be traveling to Cuba this fall to provide and adjust wheelchairs for those in need through an organization called Joni and Friends. They join others in our community who have been in Kenya, India, the Gulf Coast, Staten Island, South Africa, and many other places, serving in Christ's mission around the world.

Throughout the summer, there were lots of local mission activities to which the people of God were called and sent to serve: Vacation Bible Schools – some a week long, others one day – all sharing the love and good news of Jesus' life, death and resurrection; school supply collections and distributions; Food Bank and Pantry ministries; visitation and other caring ministries; helping agencies. Jesus is sending his followers to be doers of the word and they are being transformed and transforming the world through the relationships they form with others, and their service in Jesus' name!

Through God's grace and the Holy Spirit, we are being called and sent, servants of the One who came to serve, God's Word, Jesus Christ.

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