“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 NRSV
Throughout the witness of Scripture, Christian service is never a matter of “if,” but “when.” The assumption is made (with a favorable response) that service is a natural part of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Just this week, I shared a cartoon on Facebook that features a man holding a stamped envelope which states “If you are waiting on God! Do what waiters do! Serve!” Service was the focus of my reflections last month and this theme continues as we move toward Advent and Christmas. According to our congregation’s mission statement, we are a place which provides people with the opportunity to serve. To be a part of the Body of Christ is not a matter of sitting back and having others wait upon us. No, we are to learn from the example of Jesus who gave himself as the supreme example of service. Please notice the words “gave himself.” Jesus’ ministry required something of him. He had to invest himself in his Father’s work which indicates it was costly to him.
Service for Christians today should be no different. To be a Christian must demand something out of us. This is not suggesting that our works enable us to earn God’s favor/salvation, but rather that we have been created to do something with the faith we profess. It is never enough to simply possess faith. Faith must be translated into daily activity in order for it to bear fruit. While this may seem intimidating for some, it need not be complicated. Service is something which can be rendered by all of us and not simply isolated to a select few within the Church. One need not have an exorbitant amount of resources, a certain charisma, or a position of status in order to offer hands and feet to his or her faith. Service simply invites us “to do something.” A few years ago, Christian artist Matthew West penned a song related to this very subject in which he poses the question to God as to why God seems to be indifferent to the troubling issues of society. In the opening verse, West expresses disgust over the condition of the world around him and how things need to change for the better. As the verse closes, he states “I shook my fist at heaven and asked: ‘God why don’t you do something?’ He said, ‘I did, I created you.’” Talk about a reality check. Talk about a moment of humility. And guess what? This is more than a song. It is the invitation extended by God to each of us who seek to have a healthy relationship with him and to be an active part of God’s work within our world.
So how does this look in practice as is related to our unique place within God’s Kingdom and our mission within Lucama and beyond? I wish to outline briefly a few of the service opportunities which we offer in order to function as blessings to others. Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but sufficient enough to stir the heart and mind.
Afterschool Program: On Wednesdays during the school year, we offer a safe space for children and youth to come for snacks, homework assistance, crafts, activities, and encouragement. Right now, we minister to around 30 young people each week. This work requires many volunteers who have a heart to share God’s love with students. These children and youth come from a variety of family backgrounds and life experiences. Sometimes the tutoring, support, and affirmation they have from our volunteers are the most positive influence they receive during the week. It may seem to be a small thing, but this small thing is making a major difference in the lives of children and youth.
Blessings Box: This relatively new ministry provided to our community has made significant impacts in just the few months of its existence. On a daily basis, a variety of families stop by the church in order to obtain nonperishable food items to assist with their nourishment needs. While we encourage the church family to bring items to keep the box properly stocked at any time, we especially do so this time of the year with the holiday season approaching. For an extended amount of time, children will be out of school for Christmas break and the resources we offer will no doubt be of great value to families within Lucama. It does not take a tremendous amount of time or money to add a couple of extra items to your weekly grocery purchase.
Angel Tree: In the coming days, you will be hearing more about opportunities to sponsor children for Christmas. These children come from homes with limited resources and, without our involvement, may not have a very Merry Christmas. The anonymous contributions will offer children a reminder that they are loved and cared for during this season of joy and celebration. Please take note of Marci’s insert for additional information on this ministry.
Many of you are currently active in a variety of ways within the Little Rock family and others of you might be looking for your niche in order to put your faith into action. Some of you serve the senior citizens within the community with meals, rides to doctors’ visits, and personal visitation. Others may assist with the many fellowship meals, fundraisers, and special services we sponsor throughout the year. Still others teach in various capacities, drive the van, perform periodic repairs, and the list goes on. For those who serve so faithfully week in and week out without a stage or spotlight…thank you! Thank you for your servant spirit and willingness to learn from the example of Christ. If you are trying to find your fit, please prayerfully discern what God might have you to do as we approach the new year. We all have a place. We all fulfill a purpose. Church requires all of us working together!
Serving Our Lord, The Rev. Kelley Smart