Growing in God

By Steve Bradford of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

The summer after my senior year at Graceland University I served as a Graceland representative. My main assignment was to attend Community of Christ youth and family camps all over the USA. I promoted Graceland and supported the events and ministries at the camps.

I confess I would have done it without pay. I loved it…I loved being around the youth and young adults of the church. I loved their energy, and I loved that I didn’t have to grow up right away and get a real job.

At camp I felt safe to be the person I wanted to be. I connected to the Divine, and nothing could get in my way.

My soul was on fire, and it sustained me through the summer.

I came to understand my job wasn’t recruiting. It was about ministry and creating communities where youth and young adults could feel safe—safe to be the people they wanted to be and feel connected to the Divine so nothing could get in their way.

I am convinced fire burns within each of us. It burns hot and bright, and it’s not our own. It comes from God, and we have a responsibility to feed it and reflect it to our families and strangers alike.

That summer changed me. It solidified my connection to God and the church and helped me understand my gifts. I had to stretch and express myself in ways that were uncomfortable. It made me want to be a better person, and I go back every year. Some people shudder at the thought of spending a week with a cabin full of six to eight teenagers, but I love it. I see the impact camp has on their lives.

I’m thankful for Community of Christ, which continues to challenge me. My theological understanding has been nudged to greater understanding. But just like that summer, I feel safe here. This is my sanctuary.

Prayer for Peace:

Creator God, we thank you for sanctuaries where we feel close to you and can gather strength to share the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Embodying God’s Shalom

Find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Prayerfully listen to your longing for peace. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of the Earth’s people, nations, and creatures. What images, feelings, and words come to you? Speak or write a prayer. What small act of justice, kindness, healing, or peacemaking is God inviting you to consider this day, this week?

Peace Covenant:

With strength from you, God, I will share the good news.

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