By The Rev. Scott Spencer
Pastor, Woodridge Congregational Church UCC, Cranston
Giving of part of their school vacation and valuable adult vacation time, 17 youth and adults from three Rhode Island Conference churches spent the first part of Holy Week on a mission trip to Worcester, MA. The three churches were: First Congregational Church of Warwick, and Edgewood Congregational and Woodridge Congregational, both of Cranston.
The Scripture used to guide our work was the Parable of the Mustard Seed from the gospel of Mark. In it, Jesus reminded us that God can take just a small bit of faith - and a small group of faithful people - and do amazing things. The "homework assignment" was then for all of us - youth and adults - to have the "eyes of faith" to see the amazing work of God in those we meet, in the difference we make, and in helping us overcome our natural biases and stereotypes.
We witnessed the awesomeness of God in the following ways:
- Through our construction work with "Matthew 25" - an organization that is building and renovating affordable housing on empty lots in low income neighborhoods,
- as we learned about the work of Hadwen Park Congregational UCC in Worcester and their welcome and ministry to LGBTQ asylum seekers from countries in which being gay is illegal and often means severe persecution and even death,
- as we helped a local environmental and community garden organization prepare for Earth Day and learn about the effects of climate change on the city of Worcester,
- and working with the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker House - assisting in preparing and serving their daily meal, doing various odd jobs, and joining them in prayer and worship.
We were graciously hosted by the Pakachoag UCC in Auburn. The Worcester Area Mission Society
did an outstanding job of putting together the entire trip, including work sites and educational speakers.
As we prepared for the hope of the resurrection this year, we experienced first-hand a message of hope. The belief that people can change, including ourselves, and that people can overcome their struggles and their suffering. We saw God do amazing things with ourselves, those we worked with, and those we served.
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.