Sunday, March 17, 2013

We Depart to Serve


 Woah! I am surprised I still am able to recall my password to my blogging account.
It has been far, far too long since I have spilled what is on my mind.
No wonder I have been going a bit crazy lately.
All work and no play makes, Amanda one grouchy girl.
So now that my writing is back in action, let's consider this play, shall we?!

Last time I wrote, I was at the ALDE conference in Indianapolis 
(what a wonderful experience).
Since then, I have been on the run--nonstop.
Between classes, studying, projects, internship tasks, and Spring Break,
I have not been able to set aside as much time for blogging as I would prefer. 
Luckily, life is slowing down a bit in the upcoming week--
and thank goodness, because blogging helps me keep my sanity...or not.
you decide. 

This morning, I gave my first ever.
(Channeling my inner T-Swift, for ya'll)
I was nervous, because I am far from being an ordained minister.
For some reason, they don't put "sermon writing" in my core classes.
Crazy, crazy, right?
 So with absolutely no experience, I gave it my best shot.
Even if I didn't nail it, the best part about the experience was the forgiving audience. ;)

To help tell a little about my Spring Break Mission Trip to San Diego and Tijuana with the University Lutheran Center, I have shared my sermon from the gospel reading, John 12:1-8, with you below.

Enjoy and God Bless! :)

          In the Gospel this morning, the story taken from the book of John is a familiar one during this time of Lent It is 6 days before Passover and Jesus has arrived in Bethany. Lazarus, Martha and Mary have decided to host a meal in honor of Jesus. As I’m sure you all are well aware, earlier in the Bible, Jesus restored Lazarus to life 4 days after his death. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I or my sibling had experienced such an encounter as being raised from the dead, I think I’d be throwing some sort of party as well. Although, during this time, I’m not entirely sure whether I would be graciously throwing this party or simply hosting it out of fear of what other powers a person possess who is able to bring life to the dead. This is probably why some people were so skeptical of Jesus when He said he was the Son of God—it’s pretty big thing to wrap your mind around.  So Martha serves the meal, while Lazarus accompanies Jesus at the table. Sounds like a typical dinner party, right? Well here is where I think I would have to “dine and dash!” Mary, or Mary Magdalene as many refer to her as, kneels at Jesus’s feet and washes them. You know those special foot baths you see at spas, or even the ones you purchase from Walmart? Well I can tell you one thing for certain, they were no where to be found! Instead, Mary cracks into a fresh bottle of nard, which is the finest of perfumes at that time—think fancier and more costly than a bottle of Chanel No. 9—and proceeds to dump the entire bottle onto Jesus’s feet.

          As if this act isn’t astonishing enough, she then uses her hair to wipe them dry. Every time I hear this part of the passage, I can just picture my mom cringing—she is definitely not a foot person and I must say that I inherited that same trait from her!! Throughout this, I am so shocked by the foot washing that I am distracted from the point that Judas brings up,

“Why was the perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”

A valid point, don’t you agree? Although, John is quick to remind us that Judas is a thief and later betrays Jesus. It is clear that he would not have given to the poor anyway. However, the point he asks us to consider is one I am familiar with.

            This past Spring Break, I joined the University Lutheran Center for my third Mission trip. This year we went to San Diego and Tijuana. My freshman year was spent in Los Angeles and my sophomore year we were in Denver. Each time I am struck with the question—
“Why spend money to go across the country to serve others when there are poor among us in SD?”
“Why do you waste money on travel when you could just send more money towards the projects instead?”
         In fact, both are such valid points that I always struggle to best articulate the importance of the trips. I’m not the only one with this struggle. An article entitled “Short-term missions: Paratrooper Incursion or "Zaccheus Encounter”? by Hunter Farell,, who served as a missionary in Peru for ten years, he discusses how such trips are often perceived as a “paratrooper”—meaning the interest is short term, the focus is more on doing a project rather than developing relationships, little follow-up, very little personal transformation. As you can imagine from the negativity of this description, this is clearly not the way we would want to be perceived. On the other hand, the article also described a Zaccheus encounter as “persevering and long-term, personable and developing relationships, extensive follow-up, and consisting of profound personal transformations.” Over the course of this past Spring Break to San Diego and Tijuana, I truly believe that our service fit those descriptors. During past trips, I always felt so rushed. It was always one service project after the next, that by the end of the week when someone asked me what we did, I could hardly even remember one project. However, this last trip was more unique. Instead of constant work, we focused more on the emersion into the culture and spotting Jesus each day. At the end of each day, we came together as a group and shared our “junk, joys and Jesus for the day—similar to using highs and lows. 

            Throughout the trip, we used public transit systems to navigate the city. Even though this was not a scheduled project for our mission work, it was amazing the number of people who heard about how we were spending our Spring Break, as opposed to the stereotypical ways in which many college students spend their Spring Breaks. 

          We also built more lasting relationships during our visit to Tijuana. While staying in Tijuana for a couple of nights, we stayed at a deportation site for men called “Casa Del Migrantes.” While there, we dined with the men and listened to their stories. It was both incredible and frightening to hear of what these men endured to try and make a safer living situation for their families. Many spoke of being arrested and thrown in prisons with such awful living conditions that then would have preferred to be dead, or being abandoned in the extreme climate of the Arizona deserts by their coyote—the people who guide the migrants to their destinations. While at “Casa del Migrantes,” we didn’t even do a service project, yet we were able to make a difference in the lives of those men simply by listening and expressing God’s love. But more importantly, those men were able to impact our lives as well.

            Another part of our trip was spent outside of an orphanage in Tijuana. While there, we helped with some tasks, but the true presence of God was when the children arrived. We dined and played with the kids. They didn’t care that we were from South Dakota and spoke little to no Spanish. They were just thrilled to have us there. 

Talk about unconditional love.
            You see, THAT is what these trips are all about. They are about so much more than simply serving the poor. As Farell describes it “[they] enable us to meet Jesus in the brokenness of the poor and oppressed communities in which we work. Such and encounter…creates horizontal and mutual relationships more characteristic of the Body of Christ.”

            Mary could have just given Jesus a bucket of sudsy water and said, “Here. Clean up, big guy.” His feet would have been just as clean and probably more “manly” scented. And just think of how satisified Judas would have been. Instead, Mary throws herself into serving Jesus. 

            When speaking on this very text, Pastor James Kegal said,

“We enter God’s house to worship and we depart to serve.” 

As you leave here today, I encourage you to do that very thing. Worship God, but then go out and build these lasting relationships and use your energy to serve Him.



  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.Your sermon was excellent and I enjoyed hearing about your experience.Thank you for sharing it with the blog world.
    I have tried posting a couple comments here and they have not shown up. I hope this one does and is and encourages you to continue posting. Your words are an encouragement to others. ~ Blessings.

    PS. Thank you for the card you sent me. It came at a perfect time and brightened my day.


I love your kind words :)