It’s about who you meet.

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae… Greet Prisca and Aquila,…greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus,…Mary, …greet Andronicus and Junia,… Ampliatus, …Urbanus, …Stachys, …Apelles. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus, …Herodion, … the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa, …Persis, …Rufus, … his mother, …greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, …Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them… .All the churches of Christ greet you.” (From Romans 16)

A wise friend was talking with me about church trips, and he said, “It’s not about what you do; it’s about who you meet.” This advice seems consistent with what Paul might have said about his journeys. All of his letters conclude with greetings to the many people who have supported and worked with him on his travels to share the gospel. He gives recognition to the heads of households who hosted him on his way, to the community leaders who continued the work of the gospel in his absence, and to the ordinary people who made his journeys memorable.

It’s also simply true of life that the things we do are made meaningful by the people we share them with. At work or at play, we do our best to surround ourselves with people we enjoy, who impact us, whose very presence makes a difference.

On the youth trip I’m currently leading, we have met and spent time with many different people, some for a few minutes; others for many hours. Each one has shared a part of their story with us, and our trip has been enriched by it. Here are a few of the people our group remembers from the journey:

“Uncle Will because he taught us that it’s okay to feel what we feel and share our emotions with someone we trust”

“Kevin Poor Bear because he saw the power of prayer and faith and how important it was to share that while respecting other people’s differences.”

“Johanne because she taught me some language and things she does in Norway.”

“Uncle Will because how passionate he was that everyone was your family and how… yeah he just had a really good vibe.”

“Will, because of his story and how he sees youth and women as sacred, and how he was able to overcome hate and share the story of Wounded Knee with us..”

“Darrin because he was such a good storyteller.”

We remember and give thanks for the motorcyclist in the Thrivent t-shirt at the gas station, for Pastor Eric, Miranda, John, John, Kevin, and Mirna in Sioux Falls, for Pastor Kay, Nick, Lindsay, Josie, Will Peters, Marcella, Liz, Rose, Henry Red Cloud, Misty, Valery Brown Eyes, Kevin Poor Bear, the kids who played with us, and many other saints at Pine Ridge Reservation.

God, we thank you for all the people who touched our lives this week, this year, and throughout our lives. May we always notice and be grateful for their presence in our lives. Amen.

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