June 21, 2018
For your prayer and reflection this week:

If it is love that you want,
give yourself to love.
In meditation, in relationships,
in your entire life-
don't wait for love to come to you.
Instead, be the love you hope to receive.
The recipe of the world is to wait and hope for love from others.
The thought is that this will bring happiness.
Spirit invites us to a different way:
be the love that you want in the world.
If everyone did this one, simple thing,
our world would shift dramatically.
Love is what inspires change,
Love is the force for human upliftment,
Love always inspires people to live their best selves.
"Give yourselves to love," in the words of the Kate Wolf song,
"If love is what your after."
Love works.  Always.
Just not how we normally think.
Receive love.  Be love.  Give love away.
We tend to make faith a lot more complicated!
That's why I like Jesus- he made things very simple.
Love God, love your neighbor, love yourself-
in that simple invitation is all of the law,
and all of the prophets.

Friends, this week Agape is partnering with the church I grew up at, the First Congregational Church UCC of Natick, to make a difference through the Cabell-Lincoln work camp.  Our group of 14 has been in WV (along with over 100 others) since last Saturday.  We get back to Massachusetts late Saturday evening, right before our Sunday service!

The single biggest influence that the Natick church had on me during high school and college was this annual week-long service trip to West Virginia.  Our church’s work camp trips exposed me- for the first time in my life- to “poverty” in the hills of Appalachia.  These annual trips to West Virginia included direct service, lively worship services, community building, and Bible study groups, and planted seeds in me of faith, prayer, service, and spirituality.  

Though my first trip to West Virginia was to fulfill my high school’s requirement of thirty community service hours, during work camp, I met and connected with young people from all around the country.  I was touched by levels of devotion, service, and love that I had never seen before in community.  Feeling inspired by my work camp experience, I traveled down to Appalachia every summer in high school and college to make homes warm, safe, and dry.

Now, after going to work camp about 20 times since high school, I understand why the West Virginia work camp touched my life so deeply.   Work camp is an embodiment of all that I saw as good, true, and beautiful in Christianity.  The people at work camp “embodied” a faith that was lived out, a faith that modeled in so many ways the essential teachings of Jesus.  As a community, the West Virginia work camp embodied love to a degree that I had never experienced before.

Today, I get to participate in the WV work camp as an adult.  I am a co-crew leader (though I'm not all that handy; thankfully, there are others to guide us :), and lead singing, worship, and spiritual formation experiences in the evenings.  I feel doubly blessed!

You are invited to join at the service this Sunday June 24th in Natick at 10:30am focused on this work camp experience.  In place of a sermon, work campers will share about their experiences at the camp.  It has always been a powerful experience for me, and many others.

On another note, it looks like the top voted choice for our September "Initiating Inspiration" book discussion is "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Order your copy soon!  Also, the Waltham library is ordering extra copies for our September discussion that you can reserve or pick up anytime!

Thanks for those who came to last Wednesday's Racial Justice Training led by TJ Harper.  More details to come about a more extensive fall training in racial justice.  Thanks to you all for your commitment to creating a truly multicultural, multiracial community in Waltham and beyond.

Next week will be my last note to you all before I take a "mini-Sabbatical" during the month of July.  Our wonderful Dawn Sorensen and Hazel Johnson will be taking point for our two July events, so please connect with them for any questions you may have.

The work camp motto is "love works".  I'm so grateful to be with you in co-creating a community where we seek to put love at the center of everything we do. 

With you today in awakening to a love that always works,

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