Yesterday was the kickoff for our “Vacation to L.A.” week with Pasadena Covenant Church. We started our day together with morning worship, and we were privileged to have Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and his family with us. Dr. Rah is a professor at North Park Seminary, and was a pastor of a multi-ethnic congregation in Cambridge, Massachusetts before that. He came to the seminary many years after I was a student there, and this was my first occasion to meet him and hear him preach. At Irvington Covenant, Pastor Henry would use this phrase during his sermons: “If you can’t say ‘Amen’, say ‘Ouch!'” Listening to Dr. Rah speak to us from the scriptures on the ways that our Christianity is more formed by our culture than by biblical texts, there were plenty of moments where Pastor Henry’s admonition rang true for us as a congregation.
Our guest family for the week arrived in our home around 3:00pm, and while my kids slept, our two middle-school guests busied themselves with toddler toys giving Doug and I a fair amount of amusement while we perused the latest vans listed on Craigslist. This family has stayed with us every year that we have done V2LA, and it is always so wonderful to have them move in for the week. They are at home in our apartment: they know that it’s okay to wrestle on the couch and help themselves to whatever in the fridge. And we are at home having them here.
This morning, Aaron wanted to do nothing else but follow their son around the apartment. Wherever Matt went, Aaron was never more than a few steps behind (I think Matt drew the line at using the bathroom). Aaron would come to him with his blanket, his favorite bunny, his stool, balls, whatever was precious in his mind, and he would hand them to Matt or drop them at his feet. It was like he was trying to show respect, or affection or something. Matt, the youngest in his family, is a GREAT big brother to have around, and Aaron is just soaking it up.
Right now, the group is out and about in the community, beginning work on painting one of our church members’ houses and cleaning and prepping the tutoring center for our summer program. Another smaller group of Pasadena Covenant members has also come in for half a day to run a little program for our babies and toddlers which they will do today, Wednesday and Friday. When I left, Mercy was sitting with the organizer who had told the story of the Good Samaritan who was patiently telling the story over and over again at Mercy’s request.
I have written about this before, but I probably can’t say it enough, that there is something profound that happens for me during weeks like this when people come alongside us to serve and share in our life here. We have a great community here, but there is a level of fatigue that comes with church-planting and ministering in an urban community like ours, as well as a sense of isolation. And to have partners and friends come and lift some of our common burdens for a week, and find creative ways to care for us while doing it, I fail with words to convey how much that blesses me.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want…”