Friday, September 21, 2007

Garbage and Grace

Last Saturday I got to mark something else off my life list: picking up litter in northeast Washington, DC. Bright and (fairly) early, eleven of us gathered at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington DC, located at 8th and H NW, to participate in the local 11-on-11 mission project.

Note: The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Young Leaders Network (who thankfully go by the shorter name Current) decided several years ago to commemorate 9/11 by doing something constructive in local communities. The first year they did this September 11 was on a Saturday, and there were 11 projects: hence 11-on-11. It has grown to more projects across the U.S., including our area.

We proceeded to Calvary's sister neighborhood at 8th and H NE. Mary Andreolli, one of the ministers at Calvary, had us organized, handed out trashbags, gloves and water, and we all headed down the block. There is more about the nationwide 11-on-11 event in the news story below, but here are some things I observed that morning:

1. Young adults are serious about putting their faith into practice. They gave up a beautiful Saturday to pick up garbage on several blocks of DC streets. They saw it as a ministry to the community.

2. People brighten up when Christians get out of the pews and do something nice for them. I had several folks ask why we were cleaning up their street, and when we told them, they smiled and thanked us...and wanted to talk to us.

3. Sometimes being the presence of Christ can be dirty, smelly work. If fact, if you were to go back to those blocks today, they would probably look like they did when we showed up. But in that moment last Saturday, as a group of young adults humbled themselves and served, lives were touched, seeds were planted, and I believe that the Kingdom of God was advanced.

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