We are the church…the Body of Christ…a people who are continually called anew. We model to the world a way of being in which through us, God creates anew out of dust and ashes. We are resurrection people.
We transform destruction into new life. We bring hope from what others discard.
More fighting has been taking place between Israel and Gaza. More bombing. More rubble. More ash.
In hearing the recent news of the bombings, I recalled hearing a Ted Talk given by Maja Mashharawi from Gaza. She tells the story of one day when she was walking through her war-torn neighborhood in Gaza, an idea flashed in her mind: What if she could take the rubble and transform it into building materials?
Maja designed a brick made out of ashes that’s helping people rebuild their homes. A resurrection.
On a mission with the Covering Orphanage in Freetown of Sierra Leone, our team visited their hoped-for new site in Bauya. We traveled several hours over unimproved roads and arrived at a clearing near the village. The chief of Bauya is the father of the United Methodist missionary, Beatrice Gbanga. I met Ms Gbanga in Sierra Leone. Beatrice managed the Nothing But Nets and No More Malaria projects.
The strength of our global United Methodist connection is amazing. UMCOR shows up in places where we seek hope and work to rebuild anew.
In the clearing in this dense jungle, hours from the city, many Bauya men were hard at work creating bricks out of mud. Our UMC provided funds to dig a well on this property for the location of a school and home for children orphaned and on the streets of Freetown. The water would provide for the children at this site, but first it would be used to make mud bricks. The men were hard at work operating a brick making machine…they fed it the mud under our feet.
The machine compacted the mud and put out brick after brick, which were stacked for drying. They were then used to build the school house, dormitories, bathhouse, and cafeteria for the homeless children.
This is who we are — the Body of Christ — the United Methodist people — the Resurrection people, who are continually called anew to bring hope and new life. We build anew from ashes and mud.
I am confident that the Spirit, even now in this time of brokenness in our UMC, calls us to be the church. Perhaps in a very new form, but always the church, the Body of Christ. Let us pray to have the creative inspiration to take ash and mud and re-make our church anew.