What Is Our Service to Be?
Pastor’s monthly newsletter article for July, 2015
What is our service to be, our sacred ministry? What does God ask? [Delores Dufner, OSB, 1993]
Just to be clear: I don’t believe that God has a “plan” for every action you or I should take throughout the course of our lives, or that the essence of faithfulness is to discern and follow such a plan in a step-by-step fashion. (On the other hand I don’t believe God is bound by time, but transcends it, and is already present at the end of our lives, already knows the course they have run, and awaits us there – but we’ll save that for another newsletter article…) I do believe, however, that God has gifted each one of us in particular ways, and has in mind that we will use these gifts, to the best of our abilities, as we work together to do the will of God.
The Apostle Paul understood this, and dealt with it in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus. He wrote, “The gifts [God] gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” [Ephesians 4:11-12]
The essence of faithfulness has to do with discovering how God has gifted us, understanding what our unique strengths and abilities and passions are, and discovering how to put them to work in a way that builds up the body of Christ.
At Saint Peter, many people have done just that. Their abilities and passions for worship, children, music, art, service, learning, leadership or witness have led them to invest their time and energy in the work of God that takes place in and through this congregation. It is a deeply satisfying experience to know that you are making a difference in the lives of others. And it is a particularly meaningful experience to know that you are putting your gifts and abilities to work in a way that honors the God who entrusted them to you in the first place.
My hope for every believer is that he or she might discover how to do this in their families, in their chosen vocation, in their home congregation and in the world. And my expectation for every church leader (including the Pastor!) is that he or she might do everything they can to lead each participant in our ministries to discover this and live it out.
This summer I will be working on a plan, with the leaders of our congregation, to reach out to members of our congregation and explore with them how they might become more involved in ministry. I hope it will lead to a richer experience of faithfulness for each person. And I hope it will strengthen the proclamation of our congregation as we seek to reach out to the world around us. This is our sacred ministry. This is what God asks. May we be found faithful, as we seek to use our abilities and passions in a way that honors our creator.
God’s peace to you, Pastor Dave