Remember when you were a kid, and you looked forward to summer as the time when things slowed down and you got to play and relax and watch TV and sleep late and go to the beach? That early training sticks with me as an adult. I still imagine summer is going to be slow and relaxed.
Of course, the truth was I spent a whole lot of the summer pretty bored, wishing there was something to do.
And there’s plenty to do here at SSPC! Summer is prime time for ministry. Whether it’s celebrations, summer camps, reaching out to the needy struggling through this hot Texas summer, or preparing for the upcoming year, one thing I can say with authority is that summers are NOT slow at St. Stephen.
With kids out of school and itching for something to do, you can keep children’s and youth activities going all summer–which our amazing Christian Educator, Beth Fultz, is doing. Right now, Beth is down the hall with youth and several adult volunteers setting up the youth’s “yard sale in the Parish Hall” to pay for their annual mission trip. This year, they’re going to the South side of Chicago (Sorry, now I have Jim Croce singing in my head! “…the baddest part of town…”) to assist with VBS and oddjobs at an African-American PCUSA church with a vibrant ministry.
Beth just got done running our hugely successful Vacation Church School, and she’s getting ready for–let’s see here–Grace Presbytery’s “Camp Gilmont at St. Stephen” July 11-15, the Chicago Mission Trip (July 16-24), and our annual Music & Drama Camp (August 1-5).
This weekend our dear friend Michael Britt will join us, as he does each year, to play for our “Poppin’ Fourth on the Hill” celebration. Michael is a wonderful musician and a wonderful human being. He’s played here for 10 years, combining patriotic hymns and anthems with his brilliant and funny commentary. It’s moving to see all the veterans who stand as their branch’s anthem gets played.
Then, on Tuesday, we begin our fourth summer as a host to homeless folks through the Room in the Inn program. Summer is a terrible time for the homeless, and while shelter and resources are available to them through our community’s excellent homeless providers, RITI offers something different–a chance for church folks to serve the homeless, to be their hosts, to invite them into our house of worship and treat them as honored guests, a chance for us to get to know one another as human beings. I can’t help but think this is exactly what Jesus expects of us, with his countless stories of inviting “the least of these” to banquets and feasts and visiting them in time of need, and his constant reminder that “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”
So, slow summer? I don’t think so. But it sure isn’t boring!