I’ve been on our mission trip to Aqua Viva Lutheran Church, El Cenizo, TX all week and blogging was low on the list of things to do so for the first time since the week of All Saints 2009 I didn’t. But since I have some time while I’m in flight to Tampa, FL for former intern and soon to be Pastor Alex Hoops’ ordination I thought I’d say a few things about the texts for Pentecost 5C. The word from Isaiah 65:1-9 is not nearly as nice as other bits of the book but then Isaiah is not shy in naming the sin that separates us from God. Even so there is always a promise of return as within the shriveled cluster there is a blessing that God preserves. In the same way Psalm 22, “My God, My God” takes a dramatic turn in verse 19 as the lament turns into praise. In Galatians 3:23-29 all the barriers we have erected are brought down so that in the singularity of the Christ race and gender and social class disappear. And in the Gospel the man freed from demons is desperate to depart with Jesus only to be told that he has work to do at home. It’s been my experience that a mission trip is almost always transformative for those on the giving end. For me the blessing left in the cluster of my faith was an El Cenizo angel name Natalia. Of course she was really a charming little third grader who was captivated by my guitar and strummed the strings while I held down the chords and we sang "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart." Like a lament turned to praise or barriers broken down or demons cast out the gift of a girl whose name means Nativity birthed in my spirit a renewed sense of the Spirit’s presence. That it should happen in a poverty stricken border town should come as no surprise as the promise is “the poor shall eat and be satisfied.” The surprise is that I was the hungry one waiting to be well fed. By the way Natalia said when she grows up she's going to be a famous singer and guitar player. I asked if there was someone famous that she wanted to be like. She said, "yes." I asked, "who?" She said, "you." Imagine that.