“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
John 12:24 (NRSV)
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
In the spring of 2013, I traveled to El Salvador for a mission adventure. The small group I was with engaged in a number of ministries, but the one most memorable for me was packing bags of food supplies and taking them to families who lived in the poorest neighborhoods in the area. I was shocked at the living conditions these people had to endure. Most lived in huts with dirt floors and walls made from various types of salvaged materials. An open fire in one corner was used for cooking, and the only water source was a spigot down the street. Often the toilet was a hole dug in the yard, with an old shower curtain hung for privacy.
In spite of their abject poverty, the people we visited were cheerful, friendly and hospitable, gathering old plastic chairs and stools for us to sit on while we chatted through our interpreter. I was impressed by the abundant joy they displayed, in spite of their poverty and obvious hardships.
When it was time for us to leave, we would offer to pray with them and ask if there was anything in particular we should pray for. Some would ask for prayer for a health condition or maybe that a family member would find suitable employment. But others would think a moment and say something like, “No, I just want to thank God for His many blessings.” I was both amazed and convicted that these children of God, who lived in poverty like I had never before seen, were focused not on what they lacked, but on what they had, all the time giving God thanks and praise for His blessings.
Many of us have given up something during this season of Lent, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made us give up even more. It may be tempting for us to complain about what we lack, but let us choose to focus on all of God’s blessings and rejoice, giving Him the thanks and the praise He deserves.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
The church is born
with this breath of yours,
and the mission that your church will bear to the world
for all time is that you are dead and risen.
We will proclaim the God that loves,
and we will not betray that message;
may we suffer for you,
should that be what your mission requires of us. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To educate this week:
Try to find ways to host an English as a Second Language class.
To cultivate growth this week:
Write letters to immigrants in detention.
To advocate this week:
Build a rapid response network within your congregation and community interest partners.
David Hollowell is a local pastor in the NC Conference and currently serves Wrightsboro United Methodist Church in the Harbor District.