[Episcopal News Service] A friend recently shared this prayer with me, “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of work, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.”
I believe the Young Adult Service Corps embodies this. I saw it when 25 potential YASC missionaries with a wide variety of skills, gifts and passions from across the country came together to discern the best way for them to serve out God’s mission.
In our own Baptismal Covenant we are asked if we will, strive for justice and peace among all people, to see and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself and to proclaim by work and example the Good News of God in Christ.
But how do we know in which way we can best serve God? What is our next most faithful step to come and follow Christ?
This is where discernment comes in.
Even though I grew up Episcopalian and work for the church, the word discernment is not part of my everyday vocabulary. What do they mean by a discernment weekend? To all my friends who aren’t religious, they were just as stumped. I simply explained it as a long interview weekend where the staff will get to know me. For me, going into an interview is nerve-wracking enough but a whole weekend of it? Terrifying. I had the complete wrong idea, though. The word interview doesn’t even come to mind.
We built a spiritual community within 72 hours; a support system where everyone opened up and felt comfortable in guiding one another through this decision-making process.
There was time for us to ask questions, talk to former YASC missionaries, and learn about the responsibilities and expectations of being a member of YASC. I thought the most important part was when the facilitators broke us into small groups of six or seven people to meet for an hour, three different times throughout the weekend. The confidential space allowed us to reflect out loud our strengths, weaknesses, fears, doubts, hopes and joys. There were no wrong answers, no judgments and no interruptions. It was the perfect place to relax, open-up and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.
I joked throughout the weekend that all we did was talk, eat, talk a little more and then eat again. But the truth is I came into the weekend with an unfaltering certainty that this is what I wanted to do. I didn’t think I would learn much more or be changed in any way. But I came away with a deeper understanding of my own spiritual journey, 24 wonderful new friends who I yearned to be reunited with the minute we parted ways and energized to dive head first into this journey I am about to embark on.
As Jan Richardson, artist and writer of the blog, Painted Prayerbook, wrote, “And we will open our hands to the feast without shame. And we will turn toward each other without fear. And we will give up our appetite for despair. And we will taste and know delight. And we will become bread for a hungering world. And we will become drink for those who thirst. And the blessed will become the blessing. And everywhere will be the feast.”
— Ashley Cameron is an intern in the Diocese of Virginia’s Office of Mission and Outreach and a member of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Leesburg, Virginia.