MLK Service Day

On Monday, January 15, 2018 Concordia University, St. Paul organized a day of service for students to participate in; attendance was not required, but encouraged. The students who participated were assigned to a volunteer site in which their interests were taken into consideration when assigning them to a site, so that they may contribute to their fullest potential. The purpose of the “day on” was to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on the Civil Rights Movement. His teachings on peace and loving one another still resonate today, for the MLK Service Day was a day for CSP students to give back to the community and potentially to inspire us to want to give back all year round. I was assigned to go to Bridging. Bridging is located in Roseville, MN and provides good quality home furnishings to individuals and families who can not afford the them, in hopes to give them dignity and a sense of self-worth. All of Bridging’s clients have been referred to them by a social service and just acquired housing but have an annual income of $15,000 or less, so they can not afford furnishings. The group assigned to Bridging was split into two small groups by the volunteer coordinator. One group, consisting of mostly guys and athletes, helped by moving large furniture items on and off moving trucks. The other group, consisting of myself and mostly girls, helped by organizing silverware sets and ripping linen into strips to be used to tie around rolled up blankets, sheets, and comforters.

Going to Bridging for the MLK service day introduced me to a location at which I can volunteer at for the Honors Service Learning Project. Starting on Thursday, January 25 I will be volunteering at Bridging at least once a week for two hours in the mornings. At Bridging I will be a shopping assistant to the clients. My job will be to walk through the warehouse with them, helping them pick out furniture and other household items, mainly making sure they get everything they need and want. I will be there make sure the clients feel like they have a say in the process, for Bridging values dignity. The founder of Bridging does not agree with the sayings “something is better than nothing” and “beggars can’t be choosers” and does not want those sayings to be associated with Bridging, because the sayings dehumanize the clients, implying that they have no opinions or preferences in the items what will be going into their home. So, my volunteer work at Bridging is vocation, for I will be the hands and feet of God for the clients by giving them hope and relief, by showing them love and compassion, and by sharing the gift of God with them.

Learning about Bridging’s mission statement made me think about how society views and treats the humanity of those in poverty and homelessness. Obviously, they have physical needs that are more or less meet by many non-profit organizations, but how many of those organizations are also meeting the non-physical needs of those experiencing poverty and homelessness? Bridging is the first one I have learned about that focuses on the humanity of the clients. Up until MLK day, I had never thought about providing for the non-physical needs or that both needs can be meet at once. I am ashamed to admit this, but I had always thought the homeless and those in poverty should be grateful for whatever help or handouts they receive because after all “beggars can’t be choosers”. In no way is what I thought true, for it was ignorant of me not to realize their humanity. Attending to the physical needs of those is homelessness and poverty is just as important as attending to their non-physical needs, for Jesus not only stopped a women who committed adultery from getting stoned but He also forgave her sins (John 8:1-11). He attended to both her physical and non-physical needs, and as a Christian I must to do the same thing to the best of my ability as it is part of vocation.

 

Martin Luther and the Called Life, chapter 2, Luther: His Road To Vocation

During Martin Luther’s time in the 1500’s monks, nuns, and priests were seen as the only people who had a vocation, for they were called to a higher life in which the purpose of a vocation is preparing the soul for the next life. And the forgiveness of sins was something that was worked for, not freely given. And Jesus was viewed as a judge. In order for people’s sins to be forgiven, they had to perform the sacrament of penance, where sins are confessed privately to a priest then a “penance” is assigned for a satisfaction of the sins to be made. The degree of the penance varied in correspondence to the severity of the sin. Because of penance, it was very difficult for anyone who was not a monk, nun, or priest to fully receive forgiveness, for no matter how hard they tried, they could never do enough good works that were good enough. And with that Martin Luther began to question the understanding of vocation in the church.

In chapter two of Martin Luther and the Called Life Luther’s reforming views on vocation are explained, as well as how Luther came to his new understanding. And it is those views that we have today, that vocation is serving God in every accept of live, no matter one’s occupation.

Martin Luther came to a new understanding of vocation during his time in the monastery. His understanding of vocation is that every Christian has a vocation, and that vocation is serving of God in every aspect of life. Luther also came to realize that every Christian has more than one calling. Luther explains that every Christian has a vocation because no matter of one’s occupation, God is still being served. And those whose occupations are outside of the church are able to have vocations because they do not have to work to earn forgiveness; rather their work is service to God because they are forgiven.

My major is Computer Science with a minor in mathematics, and I am in the Honors Program at Concordia, in which many students are church work majors. In fact the all members of the freshman Mu Honors class are not church work majors, and all most of sophomore Lambda Honors members are church work majors, which puts them at an advantage when discussing theology but that does not mean they’re closer to God than the freshman. That is not the attitude they have by any means; the sophomore class is actually extremely helpful. And chapter three of Martin Luther and the Called Life taught me that just because I am not a church work major doesn’t not mean I can’t devote my life to Christ. My understanding of being a Christian is to be the hands and feet of God, to show kindness and compassion and forgiveness to all those I encounter in life. Regardless of occupation, God can be served in every walk of life.