Good morning, my name is Emma Wood and I am with YAV or Young Adult Volunteers through P.C. USA. I am serving a year of mission in New Orleans, Louisiana. There I will be working for Chinese Presbyterian Church in Kenner, Louisiana.
Thomas Merton, author of Life and Holiness spoke about mission and charity in the context that, "In some cases this can and should go to the extent of leaving all that we have in order to share the lot of the unfortunate."
When I left North Carolina, I left all that was comforting, familiar, and really important to me.
I am transitioning, like many young adults, from college to what we like to call "the real world." But I took a call from God that some of us call intuition, a gut feeling, or even instinct, that now was the time to leave my comfort zone and make my life about someone else besides myself.
Merton, goes on to state that "true charity is love, and love implies deep concern for the needs of another. It is not a matter of self indulgence, but of strict obligation."
It is with that sentiment that I felt compelled to answer the call to the community of New Orleans. That is what New Orleans is, a community. It's not just a city or a place where there is amazing music, and outstanding food. Although there are those things. It is a place where neighbors know each other, and churches do everything they can to help those around them. But, it also a place where that community is struggling to come back and many have lost their neighbors or even entire neighborhoods. And on this day, the fifth year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, there is till so much left to be done for this community.
That is what my year of mission work means to me. To step outside of my comfort zone, to take the focus off myself, and to follow the words of Christ in Matthew 25:40,
"The king will reply, I tell you truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Thank you all so much for your time and patience today, I hope you will keep me and my new New Orleans family in your prayers. May you all enjoy this beautiful Sunday.
END OF THE YEAR SERMON:
Good Morning. I am pretty sure everyone here today knows me, but for those of you who don’t, my name is Emma Wood and I am a Young Adult Volunteer with the Presbytery of Southern Louisiana and I work here at Chinese Presbyterian Church.
This morning I would like to address two parts of the story of the little boy who brought the fish to Jesus. Before Jesus took the bread the from the little boy to feed the crowd he said to Phillip, “where can we find bread to feed all these people?” He said this to stretch Phillip’s faith. (This reading is from The Message). I can really relate to Phillip. The hesitance he must have felt, colliding with an intense desire to perform well in front of his teacher, and his messiah. This year was a huge stretch of my faith.
When I first decided to join the YAV program, I had a lot of apprehension about whether I would be “Christian enough.” While, I had recently become apart of my home church again through a prayer shawl group I was not feeling really attached to the church as a whole. I was not feeling God’s presence in my life, and while at the time I was not aware of it, I was really longing to feel the way your heart feels when Christ makes you whole.
So I set on out on this journey to spend a year focusing on others, and taking myself out of the equation of my life. What I learned pretty quickly was just how much this year was going to teach me about myself. I have learned what my strengths are, what I am not so great at doing, and what I generally just do and do not enjoy doing. How I function with five total strangers as roommates.
I feel that the call I felt to serve was Jesus way of asking me “where will you find yourself when you truly begin to follow me?” That is where the part of taking something small like a leap of faith and turning into something huge, like a mission for life.
Where I have found the most joy in this year with Chinese Presbyterian is in my work with the children. I really feel that they have brought to me isn’t something I can exactly put into words, but I know that it has changed me for the better. . Getting a chance to get know Martin, Joseph, Jen, Jacob, and all the children.
I have also, had the gift of getting a chance to assist in teaching English to Chinese immigrants. Getting know these people and helping them along in their learning process has taught me so much about the value of different cultures, and about the value of education.
That is what the children and adults of this church and of New Orleans has brought me this year, the call to follow my passion for education. I am excited about staying involved in education after my time as a YAV. The laughter and lessons I have shared with everyone is invaluable.
Most of I all I learned that having great mentors is what you really need. Phillip had the ultimate mentor, Jesus. While, I too have the spirit this year has also brought me some incredible women to guide me. Kathy Lee is not just a coordinator for the YAV program, she is a motivator, an inspirer, a strength, and a friend. I am so thankful for her everyday. Also, I have my mentor Ms. Jeanette Hew. She is the most amazingly positive person I have ever met. When I first came to CPC she welcomed me with open arms and constantly offered me help. Her energy and devotion to her family, gives me hope to carry that out in my own life.
Lastly, but most importantly is Pastor Claire. Pastor Claire has been so many things to me this year. She has been my spiritual guide, my personal hero on several occasions, and she has really helped me see the Spirit in action. She strives tirelessly to help me rise to me personal best, and to serve not only CPC but the greater community she sees around this church. I am so happy to be spending another year with Pastor Claire, and with this community.
My hope is that with all the Lord has given me through the children, my mentors, my community, and my faith that I can use all these things to multiply my skills and continue to serve and live out those gifts. Thank you so much to everyone, and thanks be to God.