Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Being The Gift

So, how is it mid-August already?!?
As our family winds down for some vacation time, before the summer ends, I can't help but reflect back on just how fast this summer has gone by for us!

I'm glad that we took is easy... didn't plan so many structured activities... and just let lazy days go by, one by one.

We did do one scheduled thing, every Monday morning, for six weeks this summer. We shopped and delivered fresh fruits and vegetables to UrbanPromise's Camp Freedom, a ministry for under-privileged children living in government housing.

Towards the end of the ministry year in June, our church was able to bless this ministry with all of their snacks and supplies needs for the six-week summer camp. What a blessing it was for me to coordinate for all of this to happen! It truly is so awesome to be part of a faith community that truly gets what it means to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God!

Peeps from one of our Home Churches shopping for craft supplies!

Camp Freedom interns in their fully-stocked storage room.

Snacks for the entire summer!!!

However, there was still a gap. Camp Freedom still needed fresh fruits and vegetables to supplement their snack time with all summer long. Our family decided that we would be the gift and fill this gap!

Each Monday morning, my kids and I went grocery shopping... and drove into the Jane/Finch neighbourhood to deliver the fruits and vegetables. I would say that those Monday mornings count as the most meaningful and memorable moments of our summer!

Camp Freedom kids!

A week's worth of fresh produce for Camp Freedom.

As we head off for a short vacation, a volunteer team from our church family will be at Camp Freedom tonight as we help them out with their end-of-summer Community BBQ! Our church has budgeted to provide all the food for this evening's event which my kids and I went shopping for yesterday!!! You should have seen the looks we got at Costco with our cart full of 200+ hot-dogs and buns, among other things! :)

Hot-dogs and veggie trays!

Ice cream sandwiches and frozen juice.

And, all the other stuff... buns, chips, condiments!

We are sad to be missing the party tonight... 
But watching this video will help us feel better... as we party along with all our friends at Camp Freedom! Don't you just love their energy?!?

{Please pause the playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.}

My favourite blogger, fellow Compassion Advocate and friend, Ann Voskamp, just celebrated her 40th birthday by being the gift. You can read all about her celebration here. It is such an inspiration!!! It spurs me on toward more love and good deeds!

We are bringing these along on vacation to look for opportunities to #BeTheGift!

Friends, will you join in and be the gift too?
Go out on a limb and be the gift today... because...
We are the ones who look at the calendar, who see time passing by, who want our lives to add up to more meaning than some tacky glitz in our closet or some egotistical gleam in our garage, who want our lives to add up to an eternity of loving God. We are the young and the old and in between who are the Esther Generation who have been called for such a time as this – to risk our lives, to go out on a limb right now, for our family outside the gate. If you really are part of the family tree of God – you have to go out on a limb. You have to be the Giving Tree.
~ Ann Voskamp.
I had an interesting conversation the other day with someone who is on staff at a local church. When she found out that our family attends The Meeting House, she asked me a question. She wanted to know how people are responding to our church's "heavy emphasis" on compassion because, according to her, "It is always part of your teaching pastor's sermons."

I don't know the reason behind her asking me the question. Perhaps she is just genuinely curious. Perhaps she is wanting to implement something similar at her church. Perhaps it's just a topic for conversation and nothing more.

I couldn't help but "listen between the lines" though and feel that she yearns for more, of doing compassion more... perhaps in her own life or in the life of those who are part of her faith community.

I didn't know quite how to answer her... except to say that it really isn't seen, by the majority of our faith family, as an add-on to our lives but rather, a lifestyle, and that it saddens me to realize that it isn't so for many fellow Christ-followers today. Yes, "following Jesus includes serving and experiencing life among people who are on the margins of society. It’s a command that God doesn’t take lightly." It really isn't just something randomly taught by our teaching pastor. It is a command that God doesn't take lightly!
Nowhere is Jesus saying that the work of social justice is how you work your way to Christ.
Everywhere Jesus is saying that the work of social justice is the sign that Christ is at work in you.
~ Ann Voskamp.
So, why isn't this a lifestyle more commonly adopted by today's Christians?!?
This Tim Keller quote from Ann Voskamp's birthday blog post the other day struck a chord with me...
"This is a great shock to the people in the Bible-believing churches,” offers Tim Keller, “because they've always thought that, even though it’s nice to take care of the poor and it’s good to take care of people who are needy, and it’s a nice thing if you can get to it, almost everybody in the Christian church thinks of it as an optional thing. We should all worship. We should all evangelize. We should all have fellowship. We should all sit and listen to the Word of God. But social compassion is optional – Do you see how that’s not true?
It's the last few weeks of summer, friends!!!
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds...
~ Hebrews 10:23-24, NIV.
To sit in the theater of God and see His glory crack the dark, to open the eyes of my heart to see the fountain of His grace, 1000 and more, I have to split heart open to more and more of Jesus. Who can split open the eyelids but Jesus? He tears the veil to the Holy of Holies, gives me the only seeing I have. I have been lost and now I am found and I sing it softly, before the flying of the flocks south, "Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart."
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
"My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving."
~ Colossians 2:6-7, The Message.

Compassion is a command, an act of worship, a song of thanks to Him.
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God!

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