Notes From My Knapsack 11-17-11
A Thankful Connection
This Sunday, you all are invited to St. Edward's Catholic Church at 7:00 pm for a Community Thanksgiving worship service.
Rev. Dwight Davidson of the United Church of Granville will offer a message on "Making the most of the time" from Ephesians 5:16. A community chorus will rehearse together at 5:00 pm for the 7:00 pm service, and a number of young people from different congregations will share the readings.
One particular young person, John Ball, from UCG, is organizing a shoe drive which the Granville Minsterium wants to support this year. If you have old, worn shoes, tie or rubber band them together, and bring them to deposit at the service. John and his youth group are collecting them for Edge Outreach, a non-profit ministry which both sends on into the developing world shoes which can be worn, and recycles the others in bulk to earn cash that is then used to drill wells where they're needed, from Haiti to Sudan.
The shoes, like the canned goods we often collect in other years at the ecumenical service, are a small token, but a reminder, and one that has its own place. The offering makes us stop and think in a way writing even a fifty dollar check might not; walking into a church with barely useful shoes dangling from our hands gives a sense of the limits of our giving, but a practical insight into what's needed. Hope and healing, and clean water, may just be a few grubby sneakers away.
It's this question of how faraway places matter to us, and how we are connected to them, which dogs my question about what kind of "empire" our country, our culture is going to be. As Christians in a country with global impact, we can shape some ends with our actions, and resist some initiatives with our votes, even as we struggle to define which global matters truly do matter to a life of faith, and which means are right and proper to use as faithful people in the world.
Sending a check used to be safe, but we've gotten wise to the foolishness that money alone will announce the gospel, the good news. Sometimes you can't buy what God wants to see done; actually, that's usually the case.
Overseas mission, along with our local work recently celebrated and supported at places like a concert of gospel music in Newark, needs the kind of support that can only be participated in. Granville is blessed with the fact that most of our churches contain people who have actually gone and been and done in distant places, returning to tell us those stories, to make real to us what good news looks like in Myanmar and Mexico. Participation is more important than contribution, it seems, and even if we can't physically go, we can participate through holy listening, just as a gospel concert isn't complete without an audience softly singing along at times.
Overseas, counterinsurgency against violent threats is being rethought as well. Apparently we can neither bomb nor drone our way to a lasting peace, who knew? And "existential threats" may be best fought in a struggle that begins before the first IED is set, when skills and talents are better spent in building a life with hope & promise, rather than building bombs and booby traps.
I don't entirely know how we help others make that choice. I'm guessing learning more about why people make the choice to blow people like me up (or their own folk) is going to be one part of it. Figuring that out doesn't excuse their choices for evil acts, but it does give people like me a starting point to figure out what could be done. You don't have to concede terrorism is our own fault to realize that there may have been something we could have done sooner to prevent it.
And far enough back, it might have been as simple as a pair of shoes. Given with love.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he hopes to see you at the ecumenical Thanksgiving service! Say hello at email@example.com or follow Knapsack @Twitter.