Spiritual Sandwich: Song in Desperate Times

Spiritual Sandwich: Song in Desperate Times

By Ryan Forletta, SSP San Diego 2020 Site Director

Despite not being on the construction site like normal, this spiritual sandwich is aimed at bridging the distance between communities that formerly were able to gather together. Here at Sierra Service Project, we hope we will be able to continue forming intentional communities, even amidst distance.

Personally, I find music has the ability to form these communities no matter the distance. This Bible passage has been a helpful reminder for me to sing and give thanks daily:

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (These are desperate times! MSG)

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV)

In these trying times, we are invited to make the most of every opportunity and live wisely. At the end of the passage, a suggestion is made for how to live life in trying times: song and praise!

Consider the following:

  • How has music played a role in your life? What is your interaction with music like today?
  • What music do you play when you are sad?
  • How does your favorite song make you feel?
  • Do you and a friend share a song you both love, listened to on repeat on a road trip, or that defined your summer? When do you play this song and how does it make you feel?

At Sierra Service Project, song and worship are an integral part of the summer. Personally, I have never felt more love in one place than on a quiet summer night singing; hearts united as one.

I’ll leave you with an inspiring excerpt from the song I am the Light of the World, by Jim Strathdee:

To bring hope to every task you do,
To dance at a baby's new birth,
To make music in an old person's heart,
And sing to the colors of the earth

As you continue your day, reflect on how music can help you during these times. Think about how you can share music and love with others despite physical distance. Whether you send a special song to a friend or give a relative a call, we can bring hope to every task we do through music and praise.


Editor’s Note: One of the most celebrated parts of SSP’s programs has always been evening song time. As one way to bring communities together from afar, we hope to launch several live song time sessions! Tune in to SSP’s Facebook to connect with others via music, coming soon.

Spiritual Sandwich Introduction

Spiritual Sandwich Introduction

By SSP Headquarters Staff

The reality of how community is formed and nurtured in the modern age has dramatically shifted with the introduction of COVID-19, and subsequent social distancing to prevent its spread. We are intimately aware of the toll this can take on individuals and faith communities endeavoring to maintain connection and encourage one another during this time.

During this season, we will offer up a “Spiritual Sandwich” every week to discuss with your loved ones and faith communities, written by SSP staff over the ages. We invite you to share in fellowship and reflection on these questions with family, friends, in person at home, or over video chat with your faith community!

For those new to Sierra Service Project, a Spiritual Sandwich is typically a lunchtime team discussion held at the SSP worksite over PB&J sandwiches, as volunteers break from a hard day’s work. Just like you would at SSP, you may delegate one discussion facilitator to be the “spiritual guru” in guiding the conversation.

Some best practices to keep in mind as you hold these Spiritual Sandwich discussions are:

  1. Mutual invitation: Create opportunities for everyone’s voice to be heard by taking turns intentionally inviting others to speak. Start with the person facilitating the conversation.
  2. Respect sharing: Honor the safe space you create in your group by avoiding “cross-talk” in the group setting. This means sharing from a place of personal reflection on your own life, rather than offering advice in response to something another person has shared.
  3. Silence can be holy: It’s okay to hold space for silence and reflection, rather than immediate responses to a question.

Spiritual Sandwich: Strengthening Community Through Service

In this time of slowing down, we ask you to prayerfully reflect on the act of strengthening community. You can do this through the lens of your experience partnering with SSP:

  • What is your favorite way to serve others?
  • What draws or motivates you to serve others?
  • How is your faith reflected in your personal acts of service?
  • How have you seen service to others done well this week?
  • In what ways can you serve others well in your local context today?

End by sharing a hope each person has for the upcoming week.


Editor’s Note: We are collecting submissions for spiritual sandwiches from current and former staff, as well as evening devotional content from youth volunteers that can be shared with the SSP network! Submit your creative ideas, so we can continue to build community together.


SSP Summer 2020 Program Update

The heart of Sierra Service Project is community, working side by side with new and old friends and our neighbors. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize both individually and organizationally the obligation we have to protect the health and safety of our volunteers, staff, and host communities.

With support from SSP’s Board of Directors and in the spirit of our mission, we currently plan to host all summer sessions as scheduled. Closer to the summer we will have more information to make further decisions in the event we need to alter summer operations. We are actively preparing for contingencies to ensure volunteers and staff could safely serve alongside the communities we work with. We will continue to monitor as the situation evolves each day.

The ongoing work of SSP is as important as ever: home repairs keep people safely in their homes as they age in place, and volunteers bring renewed hope in seasons of hardship. We have big plans to make an impact with our community partners in 2020, and offer meaningful service opportunities for youth and adult volunteers during our 45th year of service.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, SSP relies not only on volunteer participation fees to sustain our work with underserved communities, but on generous donations from individual and institutional donors. Donations currently make up 50% of our annual budget, allowing us to invest in our summer program through careful planning and preparations all year round. The services that SSP provides to youth and families in need are heavily underwritten by generous donors, so that we are able to offer lower fees for volunteers to participate.

Volunteers are charged a fee of between $365-$455 for our week-long summer program, but the program costs us $727 per participant to carry out! Consider making a donation to Sierra Service Project during this season, to ensure we are set up to carry out strong programs for decades to come.

We thank you for your patience as we navigate a constantly evolving situation. We will make another announcement in the next few weeks with updated information.

Thank you,
Megan Walsh
Executive Director

SSP Handwashing Songs

SSP Handwashing Songs

At Sierra Service Project, one of our core values is to foster healthy bodies and healthy souls in all areas of our lives! This, of course, includes effective hygiene.

In light of the potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout regions where SSP serves and is based, we encourage ample safety measures be taken in your day-to-day life to avoid the spread of preventable illness. One of these measures includes appropriate handwashing practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)!

The CDC strongly recommends scrubbing your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with hot, soapy water. The Happy Birthday song is about this length.

However, if you are tired of singing the same old Happy Birthday refrain over and over, you can try these SSP song choruses instead to practice superior hygiene, which all clock in at a minimum of 20 seconds:

Build Me Up Buttercup:

Why do you build me up /  
Buttercup baby, just to let me down /
And mess me around, and then worst of all /
You never call baby, when you say you will /
But I love you still /
I need you, more than anyone darlin’ /
You know that I have from the start /
So build me up /
Buttercup, but don’t break my heart

Lean On Me:

 Lean on me /   
When you’re not strong /
And I’ll be your friend /
I’ll help you carry on /
For it won’t be long /
‘Til I’m gonna need /
Somebody to lean on

If I Had a Hammer:

If I had a hammer /   
I’d hammer in the morning /
I’d hammer in the evening /
All over this land /
I’d hammer out danger /
I’d hammer out warning /
I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters /
All over this land /

Turning Over Tables:

Love is turning over tables /   
Breaking off chains /
When I see you in the stranger /
I’m no longer a slave /
Turning over tables /
Tearing down walls /
Building up the bridges /
Between us all


Lord, prepare me /   
To be a sanctuary /
Pure and holy /
Tried and true /
With thanksgiving /
I’ll be a living /
Sanctuary /
For you

Garden Song

Inch by inch, row by row /   
Gonna make this garden grow /
Gonna mulch it deep and low /
Gonna make it fertile ground /
Inch by inch, row by row /
Please bless these seeds I sow /
Please keep them safe below /
‘Til the rain comes tumblin’ down

Blessed Be Your Name

Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise /   
When the darkness closes in, Lord /
Still I will say /
Blessed be the name of the Lord /
Blessed be your name /
Blessed be the name of the Lord /
Blessed be your glorious name

Last, but certainly not least, the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father/Mother/God/Creator  
Who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us of our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Anyone participating in or leading SSP programs is asked to take hygiene practices seriously! This starts with washing our hands, but also includes:

  • Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available
  • Cleaning all dishes, cookware, and surfaces from mealtimes with both soap and bleach solutions
  • Cleaning restrooms with both soap and bleach solutions
  • Regularly wiping down surfaces with disinfectant
  • Any coughing or sneezing should be done into a tissue, not open-air, into the hand, or into the elbow
  • Refraining from sharing utensils, drinks, or food
  • Staying home if sick or symptomatic
  • Engaging with regular practices that foster a healthy immune system, like getting sufficient rest, nutrition, hydration, and exercise

Let’s build beloved community by remaining attentive to our hygiene practices, so we may all thrive with healthy bodies and healthy souls!

Editor’s Note: Please take extra precaution when interacting with vulnerable populations or anyone who may have a compromised immune symptom, and educate yourself on the symptoms and spread of COVID-19 using CDC resources and information.If you have reason to believe you may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19, contact your healthcare professional and follow their detailed recommendations.

In addition, please note the choruses of the following SSP songs are NOT long enough to be recommended as handwashing refrains:Yellow Submarine, Rubber Blubber Whale, Draw the Circle Wide, I Am the Resurrection, and Leaving on a Jet Plane.


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SSP Content Submission Form

We are asking SSPers of all backgrounds to submit creative content so we can share a library of resources for community building in this season!


SSP Content Submission Form


  • Chalk Challenge update! Inspired by the theme of music in this week's spiritual sandwich, Sarah chose to share some lyrics with her community. This song always remind her to reach out and connect with friends, family, and neighbors. What songs have you been reflecting on?
  • SSP Challenge: see a chalk, send a chalk! To start your day with a Spiritual Awakening, go on a prayer walk in your neighborhood and write inspiring messages of hope for your community. Megan chose the 2012 theme, Love > Fear, to write outside the SSP office. Tag @SierraServiceProject, 3 SSP friends, and use #SSPchalk and #SendAChalk
  • We are excited to announce our 2020 Summer Staff teams! Join us in welcoming these leaders.

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