Risky Travel

Dear Fellow Travelers:

For those of you who missed hearing about our high schoolers’ mission trip during worship this past Youth Sunday, I’m sorry for you. Our youth provided a magnificent review of their experience encountering the grandeur of nature in Colorado, discovering the joy of selfless service and witnessing the power of faith in the lives of those who have little.

Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, Siddhartha Gautama, a prince from Nepal, lived in a palace built by his father and designed to keep him from encountering mortality and suffering. At the age of 29 he snuck out of the palace to see his kingdom. On his ride he encountered an elderly man and a corpse. His chariot driver explained how all people grow old and eventually die. Further down the road he saw someone racked with disease and another begging for bread. The prince was perplexed by their ability to smile and enjoy life despite obvious hardship and poverty. Seeing the world as it is without the protections of wealth and status changed his heart. Siddhartha snuck from his palace and embarked on a spiritual journey that explored the extremes of self-denial and hedonistic indulgence, discovering peace in a middle way that found no satisfaction in material things but enlightenment through the elimination of desire. This is the briefest possible biography of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

I mention this story because I’ve been musing about what changes people’s hearts. How do people move from boredom to enchantment, selfishness to selflessness, from a life of security to a life of faith? The story of the Buddha came to mind while our mission trippers recounted their journey from the security of La Grange to the harsher forests, farms and streets of Colorado Springs. And while I am not suggesting a new great world religion will be founded by one of our TUXIS trippers, I do believe their experience provided an opportunity to be awakened to a world greater than themselves.

I also believe dimensions of their awakening may have been superior to that of Siddhartha. Unlike the Buddha’s path, which arrived at an enlightenment through the diminishing of self by the elimination of desire, their experience was a more Christianly encounter. Unlike Buddhism which inspires earthly detachment, Christianity demands earthly engagement; selfish desire is diminished by a wakening to the needs of others in community, a profound enlightenment discovered through love of neighbor.

There was an implicit challenge in the testimony of our TUXIS trippers: When’s the last time we left the security of our protected palaces to allow the harsh realities of the world around us to change our hearts? How often do we express the power of God’s reckless love so we may discover the enlightenment known only to those who diminish their desire when they love their neighbor as themselves?

Touched by the testimonies of our tenacious TUXIS trippers, I remain, 

With Love,

Jonathan Krogh
Your Pastor