There was never a time where I never went to church—but there was a time when I only went to church. It was a period in my life where I needed to go and just receive. And the church I was attending was okay with that. But after a few years of just slipping in and out of the door, I realized the relationship was rather one-sided and that in order for me to just come and receive a lot of other people had to give and work. So, when I moved and found my next church, I resolved to be more involved and active. And doing so not only deepened my faith, it changed my life. To make a long story short, it’s what set me on the path to becoming a priest.
We all have times in our lives when we need to just come to church and receive. We come for those ineffable gifts of faith, hope, and love. We come for the healing of our broken spirits or troubled hearts. We come for guidance, wisdom, and purpose. We come for a glimmer of beauty and light and truth. But if that remains the sum total of our engagement with the church community for our lives, if we are only ever receiving, then we are not enjoying the fullness of relationship with God as experienced through a relationship of mutuality, of receiving and giving. And as a result, the church is less than it could be because it is not benefitting from what you, and you alone, bring to it.
From the earliest days, being a part of a Christian community has meant being an active participant. If we believe the Church is meant to embody the reign of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, that is clearly a communal endeavor. That’s the whole point of the “Body of Christ” metaphor. As members of that body and as members of this body, our contributions are not just valued, they are necessary to the flourishing of the whole. As it says in the letter to the Ephesians, we need “each part working properly to promote the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” As a church community, we need your presence, we need your perspective, and we need your participation because, being the unique and marvelous creation that you are, you have gifts no one else can contribute.
In that spirit, I invite you to our Ministry Fair this Sunday after the 10:15am service, where you will find many opportunities to engage more fully in the life of our parish. Our incredible volunteers that have kept the church running through the pandemic are spread thin and need your help. Perhaps volunteering with our Thursday Lunch ministry, joining a small-group, or greeting newcomers at the door is the right thing for you. Maybe it’s stepping up to coordinate some of the fellowship events we will be doing more and more of. Maybe it’s working with our children. I will put in a special word for our ministries around the altar—our acolytes, eucharistic ministers and altar guild rosters are all very sparse. Might one of those be a ministry you are called to? There are numerous opportunities, just waiting for you to join in and make this church what it is meant to be. I hope you will.
If this is a time in your life where you just need to come and be at church, we certainly understand and support you in that. Likewise, many of you have already given all that you can to sustain the work of this parish and need a break! That we understand as well. But we also hope that those who can, will work towards a level of participation and engagement in the ministries of the parish that will not only sustain our work together, but will enliven your souls as well. You are a gift that we need. And we are better when you are here—better when you participate. I hope you will find that you are too.
See you Sunday!