It takes a village…

I was doubly blessed this past Sunday when I heard Hunter Lee speak in worship about his experiences in Kenya last month. He did a wonderful job of conveying his experience, both of grace in the form of hospitality from both the rich and the poor he met there in Nairobi, and of the challenge he experienced from viewing firsthand the stark contrast between rich and poor who live in close proximity to each other. Hearing him describe his desire to in some way address those disparities of both opportunity and outcome made it clear to me that he has “caught” the faith that we share.

The second blessing came as a result of the realization that I have known Hunter for at least 12 years, having met when my daughter Kaia and his sister Lindsey were on a middle school summer basketball team together. I was then privileged to serve as Hunter’s mentor for several years during his confirmation experience. We have continued to connect since then, and that relationship has been a blessing to me. It also got me thinking about a couple of people who were important to my own faith development.

I first met Burt and Flossie Jarvis when my family moved to Portland, Oregon when I was going into 4th grade. Burt was chair of the council at the church we attended, and they were the parents of 3 kids who were the ages of my sisters. Our families became great friends, and I have always appreciated how they modeled for me God’s unconditional love, not only to their own family, but to us and to everyone they encountered. We still exchange Christmas cards! It was very sad to hear of Flossie’s death a year after my own dad’s death, but they modeled faith and love in death, even as they modeled life. I know that if there was something that I really needed that was Burt’s to give, I would not hesitate to go to him and he would not hesitate to help me, even now more than 40 years after moving away from Portland. Such is the potential impact of relationships for youth with adults other than their own parents.

I know that I can’t claim any particular credit for Hunter’s development into a thoughtful young man who is wrestling with major issues of life and faith. Certainly his own parents, Pastor Dave, Vikki, and others who have led the faith development ministries at God’s Grace have played more direct roles in his growth. However, I am confident, when reminded of the important models that Burt and Flossie played in my own sense of place within my faith community, that each of us plays an important role in the lives of many going far beyond our own families. Just being an engaged member of the community makes a significant contribution that goes far beyond what we may realize. It does take a village to raise a child!

Lord, thank you for the people you place in our lives, both older and younger, who share with us the reality of your unconditional love. Help us to acknowledge these people with our thanks, and to remind each other of our love and care. Give us courage to trust in the strength of their love, and to be willing to ask for their support when we need it. Thank you for placing us in community rather than in isolation. Amen.

David Erickson-Pearson

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