Back in the day when I went to Barclay College…I had a job. It was one of those federally-funded work-study jobs. I worked at the library. It was a sweet job. I had an in with the librarian: my grandmother was her cousin and the librarian’s daughter used to babysit me as a kid.
I was given the lay of the land. I could be at the circulation desk: checking out books, monitoring the noise makers or the make-outers; I could stack books: not only the shelves upstairs but all the new books Barclay acquired from that defunct school in Emporia; but I chose something different: I was the acquisition guy: I took the book orders from professors and the library, placed the orders, received the orders, typed up the check-out card and sleeve, entered it into the new DOS database of the library, and placed the laminated covers (the ones done especially for libraries) on the book; and finally put them in the “to shelve” cart.
I loved that job. I loved not being out front, but I didn’t want to be in the bowels of the building lugging boxes from here to there, either. I loved the repetitive process: order, receive, archive, groom, and ship out. Hundreds of books, thousands of books. And I did it in my own quiet world and in my own system.
I truly believe I was gifted at my job. I was joyful. I was efficient. I felt accomplished.
I remember Carmela Tomp. She was the “up front” person a lot of times. She was good at that: friendly and informed. I don’t know if she would have enjoyed my job but I know I didn’t enjoy hers. We all have our different jobs.
Church is that way, you know. For some, working away in the basement of the church is paradise; others chirp away at their little projects they do off on their own; others are the out front people; some folks aren’t even out front…they’re out and about telling people about us!
The image Paul uses is a body…the Body of Christ. Everyone’s different for a reason; but all have a purpose. If Paul would have known about the appendix, he wouldn’t have let them get off the hook by saying they were the part of the body that had no purpose so don’t you try it.
As I have said in last week’s message. Things are changing here. Ministry roles are changing but ministry will still go forward. This week I am wondering what your ministry role is. I want to sing the praises of those who are already doing a pretty big job here. Thank you. I want to say thank you to everyone who pitches in and helps with ministry. That is what a church is about.
It is said that 10% of the people do 90% of the work. I want something more for us. I want a more equal distribution. That means those who do a lot will need to invite others into ministry opportunities. Others who want to be more involved will need to ask about opportunities.
If you don’t know what you might be good at: begin praying about it; take a spiritual gift inventory; talk with someone on Executive Council or me. It is important for us to enjoy our ministry roles.
But as I was meditating on this message and Sunday was approaching, I came to this. What is the work that needs to be done? That is a really good question. The first thing I would tell you to do is pray (and fast): “Open my heart, Lord. Help me to dream of what I could do for your Church.” I would also have you open your eyes and see with new eyes. What needs to be done? Again, ask the people who are doing a lot if you can help with something. Build relationships with neighbors in order to be God’s Light to them. We have a youth group, a Bible Bowl, Sunday School, small groups (which don’t have to be study-oriented), a building that needs t.l.c., and so on.
Ministry and worship and life here at First Friends will change—and we need to embrace that change. I don’t think the way we have done things is wrong. But it isn’t sustainable. I do believe God uses situations like ours to do something cool—something you hear others talk about and say, “Wow, God’s doing something there!”
Back to the library image. The one thing we shouldn’t do is simply be a patron just browsing the shelves or sitting by the fire reading a magazine. That kind of church-attender is not healthy. We are workers, givers. I hope the Spirit is speaking to us and we’re listening. No, wait. I know the Spirit is speaking to us and I hope we are listening.
We are one in Christ. Let us not shy from our calling. Let us run the race we are given. Amen.