I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
– Ephesians 4
My father-in-law, Bob, is a parking lot usher at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. The congregation is large enough, and the parking lot is small enough, that the cars need to be parked in stacks. He was the first person anyone ever met at that church, in his bright orange vest and a warm and friendly smile, even when it was -20 degrees in January. When I asked him what he liked about that ministry, he said, “What do you mean, ‘ministry?’ I’m just a volunteer!” And I said, “What you do out there in that parking lot more than just helping. It IS ministry! You are the hands and feet of Christ, welcoming people to God’s house.” And he was quiet after that, thinking about what that might mean.
Most of us volunteer in different ways in our community and in this congregation. We offer our time, skills, and gifts freely to the causes we care about and the organizations that move our hearts.
But as Christian people, that movement of our hearts is more than just an urge, it’s a vocation – it’s a calling to service, put into our hearts by God’s spirit.
In our baptisms we make a covenant with God to serve all people, following the example of Jesus. In that promise we learn that being a servant is more than being a volunteer or a helper, it’s something we are called to do. What we do with our time and our gifts matters deeply to God!
The word vocation literally means calling – and like Paul writes, we are called to one hope. As we work our way through this long and winding transition, we find ourselves in a disorienting space when the past as we knew it is no longer available to us, while the future has not yet taken shape. Yet we do not lose hope, and we dig into our ministering at church and around the neighborhood.
Trusting that God will guide us into a future filled with joy is not always the easiest thing to do.
So while we wait, let’s practice our servanthood with a new way of thinking of it. Let’s level up! Instead of being a volunteer who makes coffee, you could be the “Minister of Hospitality!” You’re not handing out bulletins, you’re the “Minister of Ushering.” We could use a few new “Ministers of Food Bank Deliveries,” and “Ministers of O-Rock Classes.”
Part of our healing process with all the change and uprooting we have been through in the last three years is remembering who we are, and that God is faithful. And we can start that by re-investing in the calling to which we have been called.