By SSP’s 2020 Program Planning Team
Rev. Lea Booth, Rev. Katherine Doar, and Rev. Don Callison (SSP volunteers and clergy); Sarina Levin, Cseca Gazzolo, and Veronica Russell (SSP staff)
In the Sierra Service Project community, we believe each person receives God’s grace freely.
We seek to extend that grace without condition to everyone we meet, including compassion for ourselves. We aim to practice collaborative service by Jesus’ example, partnering with those on the margins to create inclusive spaces for all people. We believe every person is valued, carefully fashioned in God’s image, and worthy of love.
We recognize that connecting in community allows for the possibility of a transformational experience, and together, open ourselves to grow and be led by the Spirit.
Summer 2020 Theme: Grounded
During this unfamiliar season, nurturing communities of belonging has become more important than ever. To that end, we eagerly announce the SSP summer 2020 theme: “Grounded.”
When life happens, the depth and health of our roots impact how we react, how we thrive, and how we survive. When faced with the stresses of life, our roots may struggle to hold. Branches may wither and struggle to produce fruit. Still, no matter our age or life experience, our ability to be grounded in life, friendship, love, and community shapes both who we are and who we want to become.
“No matter our age or life experience, our ability to be grounded in life, friendship, love, and community shapes both who we are and who we want to become.”
Grounded in beloved community, expressions of service, and God’s grace, we explore how we are planted and nurtured. We observe without judgment or expectation how we grow, the fruit we bear, and how that fruit nourishes others.
As we tend to the unique ecosystems of our SSP and individual communities, the “Grounded” theme invites reflection on the metaphor of a plant’s life cycle, the conditions lending themselves to growth, and how we might spread seeds of hope in a new world.
Going Deeper: Grounded
Those from the Methodist tradition might be familiar with the question “How is it with your soul?” As the SSP community considers groundedness while gathering safely online, we will rephrase this timeless question, reflecting instead, “How is it with your soil?”
Meeting from home over the course of five days each week this summer, we will explore the life cycle of a seed and the various environments in which plants either thrive or struggle. As humans, we often need similar nutrients to plants: water, food, sunlight, and an ecosystem or community we can rely on.
From the first stage of a seed being buried in the ground, to the often laborious process of waiting for evidence of growth; from roots seeking out nourishment from the soil, to its sprouts reaching towards the sunlight; we will all explore what we need in order to survive and thrive, both as individuals and a community during this season.
“As we practice ‘creation care’ during this season, tending to ourselves, our communities, and our environments, we have an opportunity to connect more deeply with God and each other.”
The Bible is rich with land-oriented parables and stories, which we will explore as part of this “Grounded” metaphor. Perhaps this brings to mind the long, arduous process of the Hebrews journeying in the desert, in search of the promised land they can call home. Maybe the parables of Jesus addressing the patience required for reaping a harvest, or the mysterious ways a seed of ‘good news’ is sown, float to the forefront of your thoughts.
No matter the story or scripture that speaks to you, the Christian narrative is peppered with parallels between humanity and nature; fertile history and text that adds richness to our lives. As we practice “creation care” during this season, tending to ourselves, our communities, and our environments, we have an opportunity to connect more deeply with God and each other.
“May we be rooted in grace, compassion, solidarity, courage, and hope.”
If you look closely at the “Grounded” theme image, you’ll see five native plants, connecting SSP and our partner communities inextricably with one another. While we are unable to express service and love for one another in person during this time, we are invited to learn from these resilient plants which, amidst all conditions, find creative ways to thrive and support one another.
May we be rooted in grace, compassion, solidarity, courage, and hope. We invite you to become “Grounded” in community and God’s love alongside us, and can’t wait to see the unexpected ways we grow this season, together.
Editor’s Note: The SSP summer 2020 online program is available to anyone who wants to participate, between June 22 and July 17! Join us in building faith and strengthening community from the safety of your home. T-shirts with the “Grounded” theme design are now available for pre-order on the SSP online store. If you cannot participate but would like to donate to support our program and the communities we partner with, you are invited to give online.