The Rev. Gina Brewster-Jenkins
Mtr. Gina is the chaplain for St. Paul's Episcopal School, and leads the church's youth and children's ministries.
Are you walking the walk?
Every few years Fr. Rob plans and organizes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land as an extraordinary opportunity to deepen your connection with the roots of our faith. Participants will walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the patriarchs and matriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs. This is an outward and visible demonstration of walking with Christ, but what about our inward and spiritual walk with Christ. Are we walking the walk?
I am not suggesting that we walk around praying and announcing the good that we do like the hypocrites who want to be seen and rewarded publicly (Matthew 6:5). It's not about seeking recognition or public reward for one's actions but about genuinely living out the teachings of Christ. The recent Sunday gospel readings emphasize the importance of love and respect for all people over rigid adherence to laws.
Jesus teaches by word and example, and he expects no less from us. When we tell a child to "do as I say not as I do" it is confusing to that child, and we can call ourselves hypocrites. Likewise, as a church we need to exemplify the love of Christ to all who enter our doors. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, “every parent is pleased with their child’s first attempts to walk. But every parent hopes and expects their child to grow into a healthy, fully walking adult.” As Christians, we are continually growing and learning to walk with Christ. It's a journey that we don't undertake alone; we walk with Christ and the support of our faith community. Becoming disciples means not only hearing God's voice but also gladly doing his will as we embody the teachings of Christ in our daily lives.
The St. Paul's Youth, Children, and Families Ministries Renovation Team, along with our consultants at Ministry Architects, has made great strides in the past two years. You may have noticed that our vision has come to life. St. Paul’s is walking the walk. We set goals for programing for our children and youth. We developed job descriptions and identified the needs of volunteers and materials, and we found many volunteers. The work of the church is never done so programing will continue to be a work in progress. The church is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive space for all children and youth, reflecting and embodying our values. It's a testament to the church's commitment to walking the walk and to living out its mission.
When visitors and members come into our church, they will notice that children are important to us by seeing the bags hanging in the narthex filled with activities to help our young children attend to church; a space in the small chapel that is welcoming and ready for our children to learn and grow in their faith; adults who are ready to greet each person with the love of Christ; and donuts in the courtyard! Programs for our middle and high school children are developing and growing, too!
It is an exciting time at St. Paul’s, and we are so thankful for all the hands and feet that contributed to the work. It is a message of inclusivity, growth, and a living faith that serves as an inspiration for the congregation and newcomers alike.
Walk the walk with us. Your pilgrimage can be as simple as discovering Jesus and the prophets through the eyes of a child.
Dr. Jeanne Robertson, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT
Dr. Jeanne is the Director of St. Paul's Center for Counseling & Education
There is a Native American story of a Cherokee elder who was teaching his grandchildren about life.
He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me. it is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents terrible, negative thoughts and feelings: fear, hate, anger, regret, envy, jealousy, lies, greed, self-pity, resentment, and arrogance. The other wolf stands for thoughts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, benevolence, generosity, truth, gentleness, self-control, empathy, and humility.”
And he said to his grandchildren, “This same fight is going on inside you and inside everyone.”
They thought about that for a while, then one child asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
And the wise old Cherokee replied quietly, “The one you feed.”
Perhaps it’s hard to admit that we all feed that negative wolf, but we do. Sometimes we do it more than at other times. Sometimes what we feed it changes. BUT whenever we feed it, the other wolf goes hungry.
Are there ways to starve the negative wolf, (we will never eliminate it) so it is less able to win the continuous fight? Are there ways to feed the positive wolf to give it strength? The more we feed the positive wolf, the more joy we have in our lives.
Common ways to feed the negative wolf includes too much time spent watching the news. Most local and national news is bad news. It is not a true representative of what has actually occurred for the 300 and something million people in America today. There were thousands and thousands of positive events that occurred, but they just don’t sell. One terrible storm strikes and we see days of devastation, yet only one or two clips of people helping. What’s really happening? Thousands of people are helping. They come from all around the country for months and months, but are never seen on the news. Can we deliberately search for the positive? Can we moderate the amount of bad news we take in, how much we feed the wolf? For every act of evil or disaster, there are tens of thousands of positive events each and every day.
Sometimes I watch 10 segments of On the Road with Steve Hartman on YouTube, or CBS Friday Night to get a positive slice of the reality of much of what’s going on in America. It’s just one way to find the positive.
What do you watch on TV or at the movies? Are your selections all violent? Do the bad guys win? What about books? What are we taking in? Are we allowing the external world to feed our negative wolf for us?
Social media can be a boost. It can help people stay connected with family and friends near and far. It can also be an emotional disaster. How much is too much? What’s being said? Which wolf is it feeding?
It’s important to be aware of what areas of our lives feed which wolf. We need to be intentional about what we feed the wolves inside. I come to St. Paul’s every Sunday to feed my positive wolf. It can always use more strength!
Blessings and eat well,
Jeanne Robertson, Ph. D., LMFT, LPC Director, Center for Counseling and Education email@example.com 504-330-2549