One of the most amazing things about the beach is that, you don’t have to get in the ocean in order to leave refreshed, renewed, and drenched. I am not a big fan of getting in waters that aren't as crystal clear as say, the waters of Accra Beach in Barbados (I’m a big fan of Barbados…F.Y.I) A lot has to do with the uncertainty of what is beneath me (Shark Week, anyone?), and the other has to do with how powerful the ocean can be, but lastly (and the biggest deterrent of getting me in the ocean) is the lack of control I have in the ocean. The ocean currents and waves move me, like the wind moves a kite, and that my friends scares me. However, this week something amazing happened. I jumped off the Pier on 14th street into the ocean head first, and found a treasure chest. That was all figurative, and here we go.
This week the Hampton Roads crew of Holy Trinity, Holy Family, St Matthews and St John the Apostle got together for Beach Week. We met up for Mass at 8:00am and enjoyed the beach until noon. Nothing big, or to spectacular, yet the attitude of the teens and youth ministers seemed to tell a different story. Each day began with a simple scriptural theme, which we utilize throughout the day in whatever we did. This “Frisbee moment” (because the first scripture was attached to the bottom of a Frisbee) would redefine the way we looked at our whole day.
Day One: 1 Corinthians 10:31 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God."
We were going to need that scripture as we were introduced to the carrier of the very drink that Paul insinuated in his epistle; the RED COOLER. That thing stared at us like an EVIL Monkey hiding in our closet.
We shortened that scripture (1 Corinthians 10:31) into a numeric code of “1031.” All that we did we screamed out “1031”, rightfully so! Whether, we were throwing a frisbee into the wind. Or screaming “1031” while I chased my hat as the wind played “come and get it”. We screamed out the number to remind ourselves of the “GLORY” that we had to give to God in all we did. That day would come to end, but not before a foreshadowing of tomorrows theme would take place, in a seagull.
Day Two: Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things [a]through Him who strengthens me."
The “Seagull Moment”, highlighted the amazing allegorical story of a seagull’s journey against the wind. This seagull wouldn't take no for an answer, as it continued towards its destination, in spite of the wind. That seagull was going faster than a snail moving backwards, and it didn’t matter. It almost felt as if God paused and old VHS tape and the tracking made the seagull look as it was moving (I understand that is a long visual, but anyone 30+ will appreciate it.) I watched in amazement, saying to myself we can learn a lot from this seagull's tenacity. “413”, was our numeric code that day! Fitting, because like the previous day we would need it; the dreaded cooler. That cooler looked ever so menacing. We didn’t care, because that day wasn't going to bring anything in our way that we couldn’t accomplish, as we said to ourselves, “ 413..Yes, I can-can-can”, and we did. Cooler dragged about 70 yards in the sand, making a smooth pathway for all others to follow. Nothing was going to keep us from setting up shop, so we flew like the seagull against the wind, or at least against the sand.
Day Three: Deuteronomy 6:5 "therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength."
The “Cooler moment” of the COOLER was this day, only because the cooler was no where in sight. The morning walk to the beach after Mass with a cooler full of drinks wasn’t as daunting today, because the cooler just wasn’t there. Praise be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Freedom at last, let us rejoices and give thanks…wait, no food or drink today. How would we fulfill the prophesy of Paul’s epistle to the Church of Corinth? How could we give Glory to God without food or drink? The theme of the day wasn’t “therefore, you shall Love the Lord, your GOD, while you thirst and starve…” This freedom from the ominous cooler was a pricey one. I felt like the Israelites in the desert, 1/3 glad about freedom, and 2/3 upset about freedom, now I have complain (in order to stay in line with my Exodus visual) and prolong this day by at least 47 times it’s a original time (a 7 day journey that lasted 40 years, you do the math). But it dawned on me that loving God with your everything despite your weakness is were true holiness is. Furthermore, if the previous day’s theme holds any weight (which it obviously does) then I can handle this food and drink thing and still manage to love the lord. So, we did and enjoyed every bit of it, until we heard the trumpet blast of words, “I am here” and in tow was the coolness of the cooler. “Praise be the Lord, the God of Israel, who has come to his people to set them free”, said Zechariah in the Good News of Luke. Now I can finally relate to this man, because we both saw someone who would proclaim the salvation, to come.
Day four: John 6:40 "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day"
Eternal life seems hard to imagine, let alone to seriously contemplate. What does forever mean to people who only live on earth for a short while? What does infinity mean to a people who only work and breathe in the finite? Eternity for mere mortals, seem so mythological. Yet, those words stop me in tracks. On the final day this scripture draws everything together. I’m not thinking about the cooler, the bringer of substance, but in Holy Spirit the bringer of LIFE. All these scriptures have congregated to this one point; Eternal life. “640”, is the numeric code for “living the good life” All these scriptures have come together like Voltron to create this one sentence; we give glory to the Lord who strengthen us by loving him with our complete selves, in the hopes of seeing Him face to face in eternal life.
I told you earlier that you didn’t have to enter the water in order for you to get wet. I told you that I jumped off the 14th Street Pier head first and found a treasure, because that is exactly what happened. Through the allegorical stories of the Frisbee, the seagull, and the cooler, I found a treasure of knowledge and conviction that hopefully will be the key to my eternal bliss with my king. Now, this water I jumped into was as clear as the waters of Accra Beach. I didn’t need physically jump in in order to leave refreshed, renewed, and drenched. I stood at the shore at the end of our time there staring at the power, and wonder of the ocean singing
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God
Oscar "Two Ten" Rivera is all about bringing the fire. Passionate, comedic, and driven to deliver the truth, the right way.