[As you will see below, I was gone to UMARMY last week. Forgot to tell my faithful readers I would not have a blog – UMARMY is a very busy time and computers are only for program stuff. So, my apologies and here is the latest.]
First Love is the theme for UMARMY (United Methodist Action Reach-Out Mission by Youth) this year. When I first heard this was the theme I wasn’t too keen on it. I wasn’t sure how that would work with youth – even thought it would be a problematic theme. Well, God gave me a spiritual thump on the head and told me not to judge things by my own thinking and perspective. It’s not the first time that’s happened!
I love the theme now that it has been played out through the UMARMY camp I was part of in Bay City Texas. The Programs Director, Rev. Amanda Davis, explained there are two ways to think of the phrase. One is with a comma between the two words – FIRST, LOVE. Let love be your first response to someone when you meet them or when you engage them in conversation. Let love be the attitude that others first see in you. I really like that, and I expect that way of using this phrase will stay with me.
It became not only an attitude I tried to live out, but one I experienced as I worked this week. I had a great work team (shout out to Amanda, Bree, Caroline, and Matt). When we got put together as a work team we didn’t know each other at all. Our first trip together in the truck was virtually silent. It would be the last time that would be true. I was blessed by these high school youth more than they know. It’s not easy to be the adult in a small group of teenagers, but their first response to me was LOVE. We had a great time together.
The client (name for the persons we help) at whose home we spent the most time with was Mrs. Carter. We painted and painted and painted some more. All the while we were dancing with the ants and dodging the wasps. I watched these teens work on her home like she was family. They never complained about the heat or the fear they felt with the wasps flying around. They didn’t balk at the work either. And every time Mrs. Carter came out of the house they took time to say something to her. They LOVED with all their energy. Mrs. Carter felt that love. She was so grateful to these young people for their hard work.
The second way to look at the theme phrase is without the comma – FIRST LOVE. We were reminded that we are God’s first love. The Scripture for the week was 1 John 4:19 –
“We love because God first loved us.”
Now, you may ask how it could be that God could have each one of us as his “first love”, but the truth is, God can because God is God. We don’t have to know how, we just have to know Him. God loves each of us with a “first love” kind of love. That makes me feel pretty good – hope it does you too.
Holy high five to you, Mike.