This Changes Everything!

I’m ditching this week, friends. I am headed off to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Youth Gathering in Houston to join 30,000 plus young people with their adult leaders for days of faith formation in various forms. The theme is This Changes Everything. The verse is Ephesians 2:8 -  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

So what do you think changes everything? What is "This"?

We will go on a service learning experience on Saturday. Notice how I said that… not service project, service learning. The planners for this Gathering have done a great job of stressing the difference between the two in preparing us for our day. 

In service learning we do not just do something for someone, but rather we learn about them, and from them, and work beside them. The ELCA calls this method of walking along side people in their lives and mission “accompaniment”.

In service learning, we engage with people who are different from us.  We learn the other’s story and share our own. And work together to build a better world. 

In preparing for our service day, we were directed to a TED talk video by novelist Chimadanda Ngozi Adichi from Nigeria. It is called The Danger of a Single Story. I commend it to you.

She invites us to see that cultures and the lives of people are made from many overlapping stories. Her talk describes the danger of assuming a single story for others and how easy it is to believe that you already know their story, which she calls a “single story” about them. 

To learn from the people we encounter during serving, we need to set aside our assumptions about them and really listen.

So, we will take a bus to the site where we will meet a representative from the organization. They will share the story of the work they do in Houston as we get to know each other; that’s where our careful listening comes in. Then we will work together to further the mission of the partner organization. We’ll eat lunch, work a bit more, debrief our experience, then say goodbye. 

I’m delighted that our youth are learning to listen. We could use that around our world today, couldn’t we?

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245