We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. (1 John 3:16)
These two verses were the passages around which the devotional time for Morning 3 of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church's local mission "trip" was built today.
These verses remind us of several important truths:
- First: Love isn't about affection. (Though only those who truly love show true affection for others.) Love is self-sacrificing commitment to the good of others.
- Second: Love isn't something we can generate on our own. It doesn't come from inside of us. It comes from God, the author of love, Whose greatest expression of love was the gift of the Son, Jesus. His death is the "atoning sacrifice for our sins." (The word atoning is a form of the word atone, a compound of "at" and "one." Jesus' death on the cross makes it possible for those who repent and believe in Jesus to be "at one," or reconciled, to God, a free gift from the author of love!)
- Third: When, by faith in the grace of God given in Jesus, we're "at one" with God, God's love lives inside of us. It empowers us and motivates us to live like real human beings--the way God intended human beings to live--in relationships of love for God and others. We don't always feel love, but when Jesus is living inside of us, we can always live God's love...and be given forgiveness and renewal when we fail to love God or others.
Today was, by far, the best day of the local mission "trip," so far. Pouring rains last night once more cast a shadow over our plans. But, we learned that when you can't serve in one way, there are still opportunities to serve in other ways.
AND...by the end of the day, we ended up getting a lot of what we had wanted to accomplish done anyway!
After devotions, prayer, and a delicious breakfast, we decided to get to work giving the Saint Matthew building facilities a major cleaning. Here's some of what got done:
- The Luther Room dusted and Pine-Sol cleaned. The curtains were laundered, pressed, and re-hung. Two beautiful pieces of handmade furniture--bookcases--that were originally in the room were put back in there, making a great home for the new Bibles recently purchased by the Saint Matthew women's group.
- The nursery was similarly scrubbed and dusted from top to bottom. All toys, books, and furniture were cleaned and anesthetized. Carpeting got a thorough sweeping.
- Walls, windows, and ledges in the Fellowship Hall were thoroughly scrubbed. More of this will be done tomorrow.
- The enormous east stairwell in the educational unit was meticulously cleaned, as was the hallway on that side of the building.
- Office equipment and old curriculum materials were taken from the "library" to be recycled.
- The altar rail in the sanctuary and every pew was scrubbed with Murphy's Oil Soap. One of our mission trippers even set to work to remove gum from the underside of the pews. At last report, every pew but one on the lectern side had at least one glob of gum stuck to it. That was less the case on the pulpit side. (Hmmm, maybe potential offenders have been concerned that Saint Matthew pastors over the past fifty years could spot them from the pulpit.) The whole sanctuary was then thoroughly swept, both with brooms and the vacuum cleaner.
- The sewing supply closet was cleaned.
But, after all that productivity, with the reduced humidity and nice breezes we've had today, we were able to complete the treatment of two decks that several of our crews had power washed on Monday.
The first one, that of Tony, a Logan neighbor, was the largest of the decks we tackled this week. One of our adult supervisors told me today that he'd expected it to take all afternoon to get Tony's deck treated. But we took all of our youth to Tony's house. Two of our young people used sprayers; everybody else wielded rollers and paintbrushes. The job was beautifully done in about a half-hour!
Michele's smaller deck was done with a smaller crew in about the same amount of time.
Tomorrow, we hope to:
- Go back to Michele's to place her potted plants back on the finished deck.
- Stain Betty's two decks.
- Take the siding off of Cyndy's tractor barn.
- Do some additional cleaning at the church building.
Our adult help has been great!
The breakfasts and lunches have been wonderful!
And hopefully, in it all, the God of love we know in Jesus has been glorified!
Go here and here to see information about the first two days of our "trip."
By the way: The best thing about doing a local mission trip? Being able to get a shower every day! (Posts 1 and 2 about our Nashville mission trip of 2009, will explain what I'm talking about.)