Veronica Russell, SSP Director of Volunteers & Outreach
The idea seemed simple enough – we all desire to belong in community with others. We need a space to be nourished, and share our unique gifts. We long for affirmation that we belong, are loved, and are accepted in our fullest self-expression. Over time, it became apparent the ‘A Place at the Table’ summer theme was far more nuanced a concept than we first imagined.
“We long for affirmation that we belong, are loved, and are accepted in our fullest self-expression.”
Every year, SSP assembles a team of volunteer pastors, youth workers, and young adult leaders to ask the question, “What do youth in the world need to hear?” From this act of gathering to meditate on how the Christian narrative can help us make sense of our world, the SSP spiritual program is born. This year, that message was distilled into an idea accessible to anyone who has ever needed nourishment: you have a place at the table.
For months, the 2019 team ruminated on the role of ‘the table’ throughout history, the Christian narrative, and our world. We considered the wide array of communities SSP serves alongside, the example of Jesus’ transformative love in action for those on the margins, and the nature of a world which too often fosters division or separation over loving, collaborative community.
“‘A Place at the Table’ invites us to engage with the profound power of a love which honors the inherent value of another.”
We soon realized ‘A Place at the Table’ invites us to engage with the profound power of a love which honors the inherent value of another. Its commission runs deep, challenging us to both engage holistically with hospitality to our neighbor, and accept the invitation to the table ourselves. It challenges us to evaluate the boundaries we set on our own spaces of hospitality and consider our impact on those who come after us as we seek to steward our resources.
“Marinate in the many rich and diverse expressions of God’s love through the Sierra Service Project community, and consider how this love might be evident at your own table.“
The stories in our 2019 newsletter represent the many chairs brought to SSP’s table this year. Each is inextricably interwoven with the others, through the common threads of invitation, inclusion, and nourishment. As you read each unique story, we encourage you to marinate in the many rich and diverse expressions of God’s love through the Sierra Service Project community, and consider how this love might be evident at your own table.
Editor’s Note: Every year, the SSP summer theme is selected by a volunteer team of pastors and youth leaders. If you are interested in being part of this process for 2020 or future summers, contact us! Young adults interested in spiritual life leadership should also consider serving on SSP summer staff.