Reflection on Discipleship Written by Rebecca Gordon The Abraham Project corps member
When I was a sophomore in college at UNCA I officially joined a college ministry. I dabbled in it a bit during my freshman year when I was sucked into a women’s small group by the sweetest RA on Earth, and by the fall of the next year I had started seriously attending worship services on Tuesdays. Then spring rolled around and friends of mine in the ministry started pushing me to apply for their leadership team. My new official title became the InterVarsity Inreach Coordinator. I oversaw everything we did as a chapter that built fellowship, and these were mostly fun events, too! I organized movie nights, a picnic, and yes, I often thought heavily about the state of discipleship in our chapter. My campus minister and I met a couple of times about it and we talked off and on about ways to encourage that in our chapter. As I look back on it now, I feel that as much as I thought I understood the concept at the time, and I do not blame my campus minister or my college ministry for this, it was
His Grace is Enough Written by Kate McPherson Grace-on-the-Hill corps member
There is no one in this world who judges me harder than me. I guarantee it.
I work as an instructional assistant at an elementary school, and every once in a while, I’ll miss my scheduled time with a class because I’m working in another area of the school. I always feel incredibly bad about this and shoot an apologetic email to the affected teacher, whose response is inevitably something like this:
Hey Kate, thanks for letting me know. No worries!
Obviously, this teacher isn’t judging me for running the front desk instead of tutoring students. I, on the other hand, spend a significant amount of time lamenting my inability to be in multiple places at once. If only I could clone myself! If only there was enough of me to accomplish everything I want to accomplish!
As humans, we spend an awful lot of time trying to be enough. We want to do enough things, get enough sleep, work out enough, eat enough vegetables. We resolve to be kinder, volunteer more, donate more, raise awareness about more issues until we are so tired.
We chase the idea that
Paradoxical Pardon Stephanie McCullough Grace-on-the-Hill corps member
Throughout college, I spent my summers working at an incredible Christian summer camp in northwest Arkansas. On the very first night every session, we would go over four tenets of God: righteousness, judgment, love, and mercy. It can be a lot to wrap one’s head around. How can the Lord perfectly balance judgment in one hand and mercy in the other? How can God be total and perfect love while being righteous and just? (My tiny human brain struggles to reconcile the Creator’s divine mystery; my thoughts and ways are so very different from His.) Yet perfectly and beautifully, our Father encompasses all.
The passage in Numbers tells a story of God’s judgment and mercy, all wrapped into a neat paragraph. Full of poisonous serpents, it can be a bit jarring to read, particularly for anyone who experiences ophidiophobia. The Psalm draws us back to those giving aspects of God — great mercy, delivered them wonders, etc. To focus on just the judgment or just the mercy severely sells the Lord short.
The Creator of the UNIVERSE is so much more than those four basic qualities; beyond that, God on the whole is
Reflection on Judgment Written by Joseph Wood ESC Maryland Alum
Some of my fondest memories from my year in the Episcopal Service Corps are from our “family dinners.” Living in intentional community can be hard, can involve a lot of rough edges and a distinct lack of personal space. Yet those nights when we were able to come together around the dining room table to share in food and fellowship helped to make it all worth it. The fact that we could laugh, commiserate, talk, and, yes, even argue over that table helped to bond us together in the common life we had committed to. It linked the service work we were doing with the small, seemingly inconsequential habits of everyday life. The connections we were making were not just about how much we helped other people; they were about sharing and shaping who we are as people—even in as simple an act as breaking bread together.
In the collect for this Fourth Sunday of Lent we pray that God “evermore give us” “the true bread which gives life to the world.” As we live into this season, I think it is important to recognize that the “true bread” that
Reflection on Judgment Anna Holleman and Weslie Detwiler Colorado ESC corps members
In the season of Lent, we remember God’s judgment against the Israelites as they wandered for 40 years in the desert. We remember God’s judgment against Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We remember that we are separated from God because our of broken humanity caused by the Fall. We engage in practices, such as fasting and confession, to remember the righteous judgment of God against our sin and pride.
But this judgment is only one part of the story. Just as God allowed the Israelites to finally enter the Promised Land, just as He allowed Moses to create a serpent of bronze to save the Israelites from the plague of snakes He sent among them, God allows us to enter back into redemption after our own falls. Easter comes after Lent. Easter redeems this time of remembering our own rebellion and separation from God. We remember that Good Friday did not have the last word. Jesus died on a Roman cross and rose from the tomb on the third day, absorbing the judgment meant for us and instead offering us mercy. He took the finality
Reflection on Judgment Caroline Noland The Road corps member
I judge you. I judge you for the money you spend on that new bracelet. I judge you for the way you over-spiritualize your morning coffee. I judge you because you never use public transportation. I judge you by your lack of awareness for anything outside your own neighborhood.
And I pass this judgment like one passes salt and pepper at the dinner table- casually, almost unconsciously, and regularly. It bellows up within me some days. It blocks any goodness in you like a cumulonimbus cloud.
Yet I’ve come to know what I judge most of all, is my own soul.
I see all the minutes I have in a day, how I fail to use each one productively and I find this detestable. I retroactively watch my words falling out of my mouth, spurting with bitterness and I recoil at my behavior. I notice all the ways you encourage and I perseverate on my selfishness. I judge you because I judge myself. This exchange of hypocrisy and raising of eyebrows and shaming, though, murders any hint of grace.
Because each moment I fail to offer you or myself forgiveness, an
Loving Darkness, Seeking Light Written by Justin Rose Life Together corps member
“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
What does it mean to love darkness? To me, it’s when we capitulate to and propagate systems of oppression, either for short-term gain or out of fear. Human darkness hangs like a tattered rag over our planet. Loving darkness looks like investing countless millions of dollars into private prisons or weapons systems with the primary goal of destroying life. Loving darkness looks like using secret drugs to execute people on death row or wielding technology to explode the tops of mountains and poison surrounding communities, all in the name of Profit. Darkness is murdering difference, strangling subversive Love and nailing it to a cross. Often those with the most power cling to darkness the
Power-Sharing, or the Story of a Control Freak in Community Written by Erica Kadel The Julian Year alum and ESC national staff member
In August 2013, mere months after graduating from Fordham University, I moved into a house with six perfect strangers in the Rogers Park neighborhood on the far north side of Chicago to begin serving with the Julian Year.
In the first weeks, I admit that I came off pretty intense. I made sure to let my new community know that I was controlling and forceful and loud and that, given the choice, I always take charge. But, to give myself some credit, I also told them that I already was beginning to feel nuggets of appreciation and loyalty beginning to grow, and that, given time, I knew I would deeply and fiercely love them.
I had done some serious soul searching in the months and years before that moment, and I felt like I knew what my strengths and weaknesses were (many of my core personality traits really fit into both categories). I saw this move to Chicago for what it could be: a chance for me to create a “new” me with some of my rougher edges
Reflection on Power Written by Winnie Verghese EUIP Alum and ESC board member
The Decalogue begins with this commandment: I am the Lord your God. I brought you out of Egypt. You shall have no other God, than the God of your liberation. Okay, slight paraphrase.
You’ve probably seen this definition: racism = prejudice + power. It works for all kinds of “isms.” This formula of words illustrates the idea that the “power over” that some institutions and individuals have over the lives of others is the making of systems that seem to lock us into perpetual injustice no matter what we do with our personal power to act ethically.
Understanding our history, the contexts of our communities, and our power to bear witness and be a part of the transformation that is the Good News of Jesus is at the heart of the Episcopal Service Corps.
The church is an institution, historically, a powerful one. The social service networks in our communities are institutions, some of them also quite powerful. The dynamics of our cities and how they are organized speak to how power works in our communities. We have choices as individuals to stand alongside those who are vulnerable
From the Inside Out Written by Johnna Dominguez EUIP alum
In the readings from this week in Lent, I think Scripture models how God really expects power to work. Let’s take a look, shall we?
John 2: 19. What credentials can you present to justify this?
I’m kind of an over-achiever. I will officially graduate in August with a MA in Anthropology. Next May, if everything goes well, I will graduate with a MBA in Nonprofit Management. And since I am in the discernment process for ordained ministry (God willing), I will also most likely be getting a M. Div. at some point in my life. Despite this, I was very surprised when an average of four people’s responses revealed that my highest competency in an Emotional Intelligence survey was Achievement Orientation. Why was I surprised? Because despite the letters I am starting to collect behind my name, enrollment in these programs has never been from a conscious decision to get some credential to wave in front of other people’s faces. I just love learning. Classwork is just something that I do to get better at something, whether that’s to broaden my cultural awareness, to learn the skills to be