Blessed to be a Blessing
This Sunday is not only Memorial Day weekend, it is the first of many “ordinary” Sundays in the season after Pentecost. This season lasts from Pentecost to the end of the liturgical year, right before Advent-so that’s around 27 weeks. It’s always struck me as a little odd that there are so many Sundays in this season; a few years ago folks tried to make it more interesting by riffing off the liturgical color of green for this season. So instead of just “ordinary time,” they called it “growing time.”
Perhaps it can be called “growing time” or “time to work.” When I think of the story of the church in the Bible, we see:
- God’s saving intervention in Jesus Christ,
- the small band of people who were loved and led by Jesus,
- the disciples seeing his death and resurrection,
- Jesus promising the power of the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses,
- Jesus ascending to heaven, and sending the Holy Spirit on Pentecost to empower the church.
So now what? Were the disciples given the gift of language and the power of the Holy Spirit to sit back and enjoy their special status? Or were they to wait quietly until Jesus comes again?
I always loved the image of the disciples when Jesus ascends, their mouths open as they looked up to heaven-until two men in white robes arrive to tell them to stop looking to heaven and get on with things.
Of course, I am a child of my tradition, as we Presbyterians are not known for sitting around and reveling in our blessed status. We believe that God has blessed us, as God blessed Abraham, in order that we may be a blessing to others.
Perhaps that’s the connecting point between this long season in the church calendar, and Memorial Day-we look back on those who have gone before us, and we give thanks for their service that has been such a blessing for us today. Whether you focus on military service or on all whom we remember, we are inspired by the work, the sacrifice, the faithfulness, the courageous obedience to our Lord that our ancestors exemplified.
This Saturday we will be having our 2nd Annual Day of Service. We are purposely compressing our regular Presbytery business so we can get on with the Presbytery at work in the world. Because we are called to many different kinds of work, the projects are varied as well-from working in the garden of Westminster Gardens, to putting together hygiene kits for LAC+USC Medical Center patients and housewarming baskets for Door of Hope clients as they escape homelessness, to advocating for migrant people fleeing violence and poverty, to sharing sacred stories with each other, including retired church workers.
As you may remember, Rev. Lauren Evans is our chaplain for retired Presbyterian church workers, and two wonderful side benefits of her ministry are the opportunity to get to know and hear from our retirees, and “Weekend Wanderings,” Lauren’s new newsletter that speaks specifically to the retiree community. This electronic newsletter includes reflections and information that is useful for retirees, and Lauren hopes to share stories of our wonderful retirees. (You can let Twila know at email@example.com if you want to subscribe to this.) And at our Presbytery meeting this Saturday, we can hear some of these stories-stories of work, and sacrifice, and faithfulness, and courageous obedience to our Lord. I have been inspired, energized, and challenged by such stories, and I expect you have also.
So as we gather up items to bring this Saturday (see shopping lists below), as we help our service project leaders by registering ahead of time for your service project preference here, as we get ready to connect with each other with love, prayer, and work, let me leave you with a little story that always makes me pause:
A man, distraught by all the pain and suffering he saw all around him, broke down and banged his fists into the dirt. His head turned upward and he cried out to God, “Look at this mess. Look at all this pain and suffering. Look at all this killing and hate. God, O God! WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING!!”
And God answered him and said, “I did. I sent you.”
As we enter this season of growth and service, may we enjoy exercising the power of the Holy Spirit moving through us, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the people God has called us to serve. See you Saturday.
In love and service,