Reflection for Sunday – March 12, 2017

Readings: Genesis 12:1-4A; 2 Timothy 1:8B-10; Matthew 17:1-9
Preacher: Charlsey Bickett

In the early summer of 2016 I was a newlywed settling into my both my new marriage and my new (ish) government job. Although the changes in my life had made me incredibly happy, deep down I knew something was missing.

I met a cousin for coffee and he instantly could tell that something was off about me. I was venting to him about job stress and a feeling that I was not quite where I was supposed to be. My cousin looked at me said simply, “you’re not.” He went on to tell me that I have worked throughout my undergraduate and graduate career studying the plight of displaced persons, refugees, and child soldiers. He said that although I was in a job that was respectable, it wasn’t meeting my overall need to serve. He insisted that I needed to make a change and offered to put me in touch with the then executive director of Mary’s Place.

Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach is a ministry of the Cathedral Community, every year serving approximately 500 refugee families living in the city of Rochester. We provide various relief and outreach services and programs to refugees—including food and clothing distribution, English language classes, job skills classes, and casework services. We provide a safe and welcoming community center where families can come together to learn, support, and celebrate together.

When I walked into Mary’s Place for the first time, I instantly felt different. It is hard to explain but I felt a rush of comfort and calmness sweep over me, despite the happy chaos that surrounded me. I knew right then and there that I needed to be involved and just a few weeks later joined the board.

What happened next was completely unexpected. The position of executive director opened up and I thought to myself, is this the opportunity I’ve been waiting for? I was afraid. Was this a change I was willing to make? Would I be good enough? Could I really make a difference in people’s lives? I mulled it over for several days, prayed about it, and then decided to take the leap of faith and throw my hat into the ring for the opportunity of a lifetime. In two months I went from board member to executive director and my life has never been so fulfilled.

In the Gospel we learn that although the disciples wanted to follow Jesus and serve others in his name, they fell to the ground in fear as Jesus was transfigured before them, appearing with Moses and Elijah. Then Jesus reassured them: “Rise, and do not be afraid.” They were overwhelmed by the power of that moment and no doubt worried that they could not live up to what would be asked of them.

But they put their trust in Jesus, and accepted the call to discipleship. The season of Lent offers the perfect opportunity for finding the courage to face personal doubts and fears in order to find deeper meaning in our own lives by helping others with theirs.

The act of serving others is truly God’s work and this can be done in small, simple ways. Delivering a meal to a family in mourning, knitting a hat for a newborn, volunteering your time and talents at a local nonprofit. Each of these things helps to give life greater meaning and fills the gap so many of us feel in our lives.

Reach out. Be of service. Do not be afraid.

Charlsey Bickett
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