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Becoming God's New Thing: Fifth Edition

Perceiving and cooperating with the good things God "is getting up to" in and around our parish.

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you see it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

A Recipe for Community Flourishing

1. Take one plucky Girl Scout Troop

2. Add an abundant measure of Christ's generosity (Saint John's brand works best!)

3. Add a healthy measure of gratitude and friendship

4. Stir in the astonishing, creative power of the Holy Spirit

5. Add a Community Garden

6. Introduce a large helping of neighbors

7. Cooperate with and witness to the kingdom and kinship of God come near

Some of our best friendships develop as the cumulative result of seemingly insignificant acts of generosity and kindness. This is how our relationship with the Girl Scouts and their adult leaders of Troop 45431 has developed.

It began during the pandemic as a one-off request to use Marsh Hall for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and continued with other weekend events. Last year, it progressed when the Scouts asked if they could supply pet food to the neighborhood food pantry. It's been over a year since we made Marsh Hall available to them twice a month, a home base where they meet, learn, and work on projects together. They are a part of our parish community.

What made this relationship develop so easily is their extraordinary gratitude for our parish. Every month, the Vestry meeting coincides with one of their regular meetings. We end before them, giving us the pleasure of watching these girls have fun as they learn about teamwork, how to treat others and practice virtues like honesty and courage. It's a mutual fan club. The Troop's energetic presence and joyful use of the space on their meeting nights, and special Saturday events infuse the church building with a renewed sense of life and community spirit. The girls, in turn, thrive in this supportive environment, finding a place where their creativity and enthusiasm can take root and flourish.

We have created a place of belonging for them, and the proof of this was shown when two of the scouts approached us to ask if we would partner with them to create and encourage our neighbors to participate in a community garden. One that would grow vegetables to help decrease food insecurity and foster closer relationships among our neighbors and ourselves.

After some preliminary meetings with the two Scouts, Jojo Saint-Jean and Reina Chan, and their parents and troop leaders, Senior Warden Paula Copley invited them to make a presentation to the Vestry. The Vestry conceptually approved the plan and authorized Junior Warden Bruce Pitts to form a working group to find ideal locations for a handful of raised beds.

This Thursday, June 6th, the Troop will do some weeding and garden site preparation as a service project. Next Sunday, June 9th, we've invited them to make a presentation to the parish at coffee hour. I have been so impressed with the comprehensive community engagement strategy they put together.  It includes making presentations and inviting participation at meetings of neighboring HOAs, places of worship, and community groups. For our part, we have connected them to our friends at the IMAN Center to get them involved in the Community Garden. Serendipitously, JoJo and Reina will be working with Mohammad Kazmi (Abba Kazmi's teenage son), a regular member of the Community Dinner Team, to build a neighborhood food pantry at the Center.

Seeing these Girl Scouts so engaged and enjoying themselves—lost in the flow of their activities—a quote from an early church father sprang to mind: The glory of God is man fully alive!

Perhaps we can dare to say:

The glory of God is the flourishing of the community by the working of the Holy Spirit through a plucky Girl Scout troop, a neighborhood longing for connection, and a generous, growing parish!

Is nothing too good for God's children? Apparently not!

Blessings and peace always,


Postscript:  This will be the "good-enough" post. There will be times when I won't have the benefit of a good copy editor, and I am slightly dyslexic, so I won't likely catch many mistakes. You may find this off-putting. I find it mildly embarrassing. We'll get through it together. M+

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