Welcome to summertime, St. Andrew's! The heat waves this past week, and the calendar, both gave me a stark reminder that our long-awaited plans are finally here. After more than two years of pandemic lock downs, I am constantly hearing about folk’s wishes to get traveling again.
In preparation for the months ahead, Outreach worked hard this past spring to get our plans in order. The garden is up and running courtesy of Jeff Herrera. God has been good and blessed us with rain, and we are excitedly watching our crops grow. Our goal is to harvest and weigh our produce to see if we can quantify a donation of fresh foods this fall.
Our partner collections have also been tidied up and readied for summer. The Coventry Food Pantry continues to thank us for the monthly donations; Outreach will run this collection continuously through the summer. All unopened food items are greatly appreciated. The Clinic in Phoenixville is also in need of monetary donations to help cover health care costs to the uninsured patients they service. Donations can be made in church on Sundays or online – please clearly mark you gift to go towards the Clinic.
The Atkinson Center received yet another homemade meal – a special call out of thanks to Kristy Campagna for driving on short notice. Atkinson will also run through the summer as the men depend on us and we have a long-standing relationship with our neighbors at the center.
Outreach celebrated Guatemala Day this past month – it was our main event to raise some awareness for the needs and triumphs of our sister churches. We successfully collected $130 dollars as a special donation to the diocese! I would like to give a double call out of thanks to Martha Thomae for all her hard work and dedication. Martha has made several trips to Guatemala, been a long-standing member and leader of our parish, and she has worked diligently in the name of our missions in Guatemala. Martha was kind enough to share some of her stories of past trips with me while we set up the event. To say I was moved would be an understatement. I always knew that I was blessed and, to some degree, privileged. Yet, to hear first person accounts of daily life for our neighbors in Guatemala encouraged me to re-examine my own conceptions about life.
Once I got past how different life in Guatemala was, I was even more thoroughly moved by some of the similarities I noticed. I was, in my core, reminded that at the end of the day we all have very little – no matter our clothes or our cars, our smartphones or our homes – we are indeed all children of God, and we share the same sins, the same insecurities, and the same desire to love and be loved. We can take only ourselves when we enter God’s eternal kingdom, and therefore the rest of our “stuff” seems to loose its value in this light. A car just gets me to places on the map, a phone connects me to family members. They are just tools of life on earth. But what we do with our tools and our time is what matters. No matter if we are in Guatemala or Philadelphia, the tradition of gathering as a family to share home cooked foods is still the same.
I recently moved into a new home; while it is not as far away as Guatemala on the map, the experience of learning new habits and living in a new space is still disorienting until I settle in. There were times this move seemed impossible to me – as if it was just too much; too much chaos and newness and difference. Yet I lived through it just fine. I imagine it must be the same thing to learn new ways of life or live in different parts of the world. It seems impossible at first, but after we allow ourselves time to adjust, we realize that it is not so foreign to us after all. Our global neighbors in Guatemala – and all other countries for that matter – are in many ways much like us. We can learn a lot from each other, but we have to find the courage to make that first uncomfortable move. In the words of Philippians, 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
I pray we all consider these words as we embark on those long-awaited travel plans in the weeks ahead. No matter where you are going, I encourage you to make a few uncomfortable moves and embrace our global neighbors. You will learn about their lives and your own; more important is the impact you will make on each other’s futures. I believe with God’s grace we truly can do much more than we think; especially when we work together in His name.