From the Pastor’s Pen
“Would you like to join the Diaconate?” asked an older church member.
She was a nice person, diligent in her service to the church. Most every week, she showed up early on Sunday morning to prepare the sanctuary for worship. She put up the hymn numbers, checked the candles and arranged the flowers. On Communion Sundays, she set the table, cut the bread and poured the juice and wine.
Sounded like holy housework to me.
Instead of saying yes or no, I responded, “Why?”
“Because I’ve been doing it for thirty-five years,” she said impatiently, “and I’m really tired. It’s time for someone else to do it.”
Not exactly an appealing invitation. I turned the offer down.
I suspect the woman had a rich faith life. I always wondered what might have happened if she had answered the question this way:
You know, I’ve been serving on the Diaconate for thirty-five years. Every Sunday, I awake before dawn and come here to the church. It is so quiet. I come into the building and unlock the sacristy. I open the drawers and take out the paraments, so beautifully adorned with the colors of the liturgical season, and drape them on the pulpit and lectern. While I set the table for the Lord’s Supper, I’ve often wondered what it must have been like to set the table for Jesus and his friends. I’ve meditated on what it must have been like to be there with him. I’ve considered what it will be like when we eat it with him in heaven. And I’ve learned a thing or two about service and beauty and community. You know, I’d like to share that with you. I’d like you to experience that, too.
I know how I would have responded: “Sign me up.” (adapted from Christianity After Religion by Diana Butler Bass)
In the church, we often attempt to recruit people to serve on committees or take on projects, out of a sense of obligation and duty. No wonder it is tough to fill vacancies; or that those who agree to serve only do so grudgingly. What if we helped people instead to see service less in terms of obligation and more as a response to God’s grace in their lives? What if the expectation of inconvenience turned into unexpected experiences of sacredness and deepening one’s spirituality?
From the Pastor’s Pen