On Saturday February 1st St. Francis Youth Group went to the McKenna Center in Washington D.C. The McKenna Center is a homeless shelter that caters explicitly to men. Located right next to Gonzaga High School, it is in an ideal location to help some of the homeless men in Washington D.C. I can honestly say that serving at this center was one of the greatest experiences with the homeless I have ever had. Not only did we have the opportunity to serve them food that we had prepared earlier that morning, we also had the chance to sit and talk with them while everyone watched The Devil in the Blue Dress (which for the record is an absolutely excellent movie). These gentlemen were polite and easygoing, plus they wanted to talk with us and share their wisdom with us. One man I talked to was currently attending classes at a local college! This shocked me because I never expected someone in a shelter to be a college student just like I am. Although this man is only one example, he exemplifies many of the men at the McKenna Center that Saturday morning. They were not deadbeats who had no desire to improve themselves, rather, they were simply people who were down on their luck and striving to rise above their circumstances and improve their lives. These gentlemen have their problems, but do we not all have our own stumbling blocks? If you are in no way involved in any kind of service, I encourage you to look into the McKenna Center. It is a local place that does fantastic mission work. If you are nervous about entering the mission/service sphere of Christianity, go with the youth group to one of these outings. In fact, I believe that they are going to the McKenna center again sometime next month (inquire with Josh Ruiter for more details). I cannot express just how wonderful it is to serve those who need our help, particularly in these cold winter months.
Before I conclude this segment, there is one more story I want to share with you from the McKenna Center. While serving on the 1st, I had the opportunity to overhear a Gonzaga janitor’s testimony. He spoke of his sixteen years of avowed atheism, continually turning away from God and relying on himself. Addicted to cocaine and completely hopeless, he found himself standing in the middle of DuPont Circle, aimless. Above his head the clouds parted in a perfect circle, the sunlight shown down and he heard these words “This time, it’s free.” Initially he had no idea what happened, but he very quickly figured out that the Lord had spoken to him, and not soon after that he discovered that he was no longer addicted to cocaine. No desire to use, no withdrawal, nothing. Now his story does not have a fairy tale ending, a decade after being freed by God he found himself again addicted to cocaine and this time the process of overcoming his addiction was long and arduous. However, the moment that God spoke to him changed his life and today he lives a clean and productive life, honoring God by working hard and serving the homeless men at the McKenna Center whenever he can. I praise God for his work in this man’s heart and the work that the Lord does everyday, for every one of us.
Praise be to God! Tyler Maroulis
2014 - What's new?
Seabury Age-in-Place, McKenna Center, & More! First up is the Age-in Place program which will be the second saturday of each month. It is a new service/outreach opportunity for the whole parish to get involved in serving shut-ins and seniors who are trying to make it in their own home with assistance. For more on this opportunity check out the "Christ's Hands and Feet" tab at the top. The McKenna Center is our next new service opportunity, and it's an incredible chance to serve the homeless in DC. The McKenna Center offers a shelter, and food service to the homeless in DC and is currently only open Monday-Friday because of a lack of volunteers. It is a great opportunity to bless our neighbors with gifts God has given us. It will be first saturday's starting in February as well. Again, check out the "Christ's Hands and Feet" tab for more information and dates on the McKenna Center. Lastly, for now, is the Diocesan Youth and Family Ministry Day April 4/5. It will be a day of service on Saturday the 5th, preceded by a junior high/high school overnight at the National Cathedral on the 4th. It will be complete with worship, small groups, poverty awareness, and learning to serve as a lifestyle, not an extracurricular event. For more on that check out the "Upcoming Events" tab up above and sign up if you are interested in serving your neighbors that day.
St. Francis Youth Ministry 2013-2014
To Live is Christ…To Die is Gain – Philippians 1:21-22
This verse is well known, but it takes a whole lot more time and study to truly understand and grapple with then intensity with which Paul challenges us in these eight words alone. Let us look at what dying is, and what we are called to die from and then take a look at the opposite, which, if my theological math is correct, would be living…right?
So what does it truly mean for Paul to tell us that to die is to gain? For us to fully understand that we must first look at what we are told living in the world is. Let us start with the American dream, and quite possibly it will be sufficient to use that alone as the basis for dying. The American dream is one of insurmountable success and prosperity through making yourself the best you. It is the ideals that if you work hard enough, and be a good moral person and accepting of others that you will find financial success, career success, family success. Temporal things such as nice cars, big houses, bigger bank accounts, people liking you and an easy life are what the American dream tells us. It tells us beautiful women are 5’8” and 110 lbs. and argue this if you want, but that is the size of women who model the clothes and are in the ads you buy and see.
Let us look quickly then what Christ has to say about some of these same things in this life. In Matthew 19:24 he says, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." This isn’t to frighten us as we live in prosperity, but to warn us that if we use our riches as our own instead of blessing the kingdom, the poor, the oppressed, we will get back exactly what we gave. See it as an opportunity to bless others, not as a fulfillment of the American dream. Then we go on to see James give us an even harsher view of the call from Paul in chapter 4 verse four where it says, “don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” What are things that we like to be “friends” with that are outside of what Christ has called us to? It is a very intense call, and we should be quick to see it as such and very slow to ignore that call! Finally John says a few words to wrap up this part of the unpacking of Paul’s statement. In 1 John 2:15 it says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Anything in and of the world covers a whole lot of that American dream it seems, and maybe some stuff we don’t want to let go of. It is not a call to live homeless, it is not a call to quit your job and go volunteer, it is not a call to sell your car and walk everywhere, but what it is most definitely is a call to use all of those blessings not for yourself but to bless the kingdom. The question we all must ask is what are we doing with our blessings to bless God, by blessing his kingdom work?
Let us leave it here for now and ponder how we are to come to a deeper understanding of what exactly in our lives Christ is calling us to die to so that we might live for him. Are you putting your job before Christ? Do politics come before Christ in your life? Does your bank account get more attention than your Bible? Do you spend more time nourishing your physical body than your spiritual? This is just the beginning of what it means to say, “to live is Christ… to die is gain.” We are called to put into question every part of our life, even those things given by God such as family, friends, and our homes, and to answer those questions by being able to say without a doubt that Christ is above all of that. That is what we will be unpacking this year in the student ministry where students are hammered with the ideal outcome of 4.0 GPA’s, ivy league colleges, relationships built on false ideas preached by culture, getting a great job that will pay well, and being “successful”. We are going to challenge the idea of being successful this year, and instead I suggest we forget being successful and worry about being faithful. I dare bet that more joy, hope and enjoyment will be shared if being faithful becomes the goal rather than just being successful. Walk with us this year in this difficult but Christ-like challenge! AmenJ
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Student Ministry Contact Information Josh Ruiter - Youth Minister Office phone: 301-365-2055 Cell phone: 301-830-1060 email: firstname.lastname@example.org