When my daughter Kate was 16 she had her first taste of national politics. It happened in 2008, when she was in her junior year of high school. One of the requirements for her International Baccalaureate degree was that she had to do a certain number of community service hours. In order to meet that requirement Kate decided to volunteer with one of the presidential campaigns in Eugene.
It quickly became a very important part of her life as she threw herself into registering new voters, knocking on doors with campaign information, and even picking up ballots for delivery to the courthouse on election night.
When we both came home that night, I asked Kate if politics might have a lasting appeal for her, thinking about her future. She replied, “No, I don’t think I want to be in politics. What I really want, though, is to participate.”
She went on to tell me she thought she would always volunteer in the democratic processes which determine our collective future because, in Kate’s words, “I have discovered that volunteering is the best way to expand your voice.”
Wow. Out of the mouths of teenagers…Volunteering, participating in the community – putting ourselves where our values are – is the best way to expand any of our voices. This is a great reminder for all of us who seek to follow Jesus.
In some ways you could say that volunteering is what God is all about in Christ. By teaching and by example, God in Christ becomes involved in humanity’s process, and lives out God’s values of love, acceptance, peace and forgiveness.
I am reminded of these familiar words from the prologue to John’s Gospel, paraphrased by Eugene Peterson:
“The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one… The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood…
We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving This endless knowing and understanding – all this came through Jesus… No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Creator, has made God plain as day.”
Kin-dom of God is already among us.