Hands holding Plant

Friends, I want to share with you an encouraging note I got the other day. Here it is:

We were talking about this the other night - how the church has become one of our most important communities. We are just at that stage of life where we can lean into it as a family, and it's a real joy. We haven't even gone to our place in the County once this fall, because we just feel we ought to be around on the weekends at the church. It's our turn, I suppose. Like countless other families before us, it's our time to do some of the heavy lifting. It's a source of comfort and joy for us, and it's definitely our turn to give back.

I’m moved by this, partly because my family didn’t go to church growing up. I’m moved anytime I see three or more generations of y’all sitting together out there. I never had that. I wonder if you realize how beautiful it is?

I’m also moved because this family is finding freedom in service. So often we clergy turn to guilt to induce folks to come and lead. It might have short-term “results,” but it ends up souring relationships and turning folks off from leadership. We clergy also have no basis from which to use guilt at all—y’all pay us to show up! 

What strikes me is that these folks get it: we need to volunteer to be fully alive, human, and happy. We have to work for money, of course, nothing wrong with that. Other parts of our lives are important too: family, if God wills, spouse, children, aging parents, chosen family. All good things to which God calls. But volunteering in church and community are just as important. Working for no return other than gladness and service of others. Giving away something more precious even than money or adherence: giving time. Wisdom. Buy-in. Membership in the deepest sense.

To be a member of a church isn’t like being a member of a club. Clubs are fine things, get involved with them. But to be a member of a church is more like being a member of a body. When someone joins us, it is like grafting fresh and healthy skin on an old wound. It gives health and life to the rest of the body. 

Thank you for sharing this story of service with me. It speaks well of God. As the Anglican prayer book says of God, his “service is perfect freedom.”


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