by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          July 1, 2018

I had a friend once (No, honest, I really did!) who, whenever she went on a trip, would always try to find an opportunity to serve other people. It didn’t matter if she was traveling for business or vacation. If she was out of town, she always looked for an opportunity to make a difference in the community she was visiting.

She said to me, “Everyone who travels always looks to see what they can take from the place they are visiting. They go to museums, beaches, restaurants, bars, etc. It’s always about them and their needs or desires. I want to do some of that, but I also want to make the community a better place because I’ve been there.”

So if she traveled for a day or weekend on business, she would take a homeless person out to lunch or just stop and talk with a stranger who looked lonely at the park. If she was there longer, she would schedule time at a soup kitchen, a Habitat house, or some other volunteer opportunity. I was struck by her selflessness and amazed by her generosity of time and energy. I also felt convicted, because I seldom even consider doing the same.

Now, I understand that some of the activities my friend engaged in might not be your cup of tea. They might, at the very least, make you uncomfortable. But aren’t we challenged by Christ to move out of our comfort zone a little bit? Aren’t we called to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” to “pick up [our] cross and follow [him]?” I think that Jesus would argue that wherever we are, there our ministry lies. After all, as an itinerant preacher, isn’t this what Jesus did; reach out and help people wherever he was?

So here is the challenge for you (and me too!) as you prepare for your summer vacations. When you travel this summer, no matter how close or how far you go, bring your faith with you. Bring your gifts and talents. Bring your compassion. Bring your love of God and neighbor. When you enter a new community, don’t only ask yourself what you can do to learn, grow, have fun, or satisfy your own needs. But open your eyes to the opportunities that God provides for you to be in mission. Ask yourself, “What ministry can I do here to live out my faith in a tangible way that leaves a precious mark on this community?” “What can I do today that lets others know that ‘God was here’?” For when you do this, you might be amazed at the opportunities God brings your way.