Over the past few weeks, I’ve been utilizing the Pastors’ Blog to share updated versions of a series of articles I have published in previous ministry settings. It has been a nice crash course for me as I consider my own covenant to faithfully participate in the ministries of the church through my Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service, and Witness. As a matter of fact, I will be working today on my virtual pledge card—my “I Promise” sign to share in worship on Sunday.
Being part of the ministries of a United Methodist Church begins with a commitment to be active. In fact, the defining characteristic of a Methodist from the very beginning of the Wesleyan movement in 18th Century England has always been an active and vital practice of faith. Life as a Methodist has always been more about living the gospel than understanding it.
This year’s Stewardship Campaign, I Promise, is all about making a commitment—a promise—to actively cultivate and nurture the resources God has entrusted to us. So far, the list of Vows and corresponding resources looks like this:
- “Prayers” means actively cultivating our Spiritual Life
- “Presence” means actively cultivating our Time
- “Gifts” means actively cultivating our Material Possessions and financial resources.
And that brings us to “Service,” our theme for Worship on October 25. When we promise to participate in the ministries of the church with our Service, we are making a commitment to cultivate our Talents & Abilities, including our Spiritual Gifts, according to God’s purposes.
Right about now, you might be thinking that you’d love nothing more than to be able to get out of your home and go serve! In some ways, this is the membership vow that is the most difficult to practice in a times of quarantine and separation. We LOVE to get together and serve the community. We LOVE to bake casseroles or run errands for neighbors who are homebound. We LOVE to prepare and serve food to hungry people who don’t have enough at home. We might be so desperate to serve, that we’d even be happy to attend a committee meeting at this point! 😊 And none of these things is working the way we’re used to.
There are many ways to serve, however, and we may need servants more now than ever before.
- The work of committees that guide and care for our administrative tasks continues.
- Reaching out to our friends and neighbors who are suffering from isolation and loneliness is more important than ever.
- Community agencies that provide help are in desperate need of support.
- Our food banks at Trinity UMC, West Salem, and Las Naciones/Jason Lee are stretched thin.
- We need help sending care cards and calling church members who have trouble accessing online activities to help them know they are not forgotten.
There are countless ways we can serve the Lord by serving others, even in these pandemic times. If you need help finding a place to serve, contact one of our Open Door Churches or one of the Pastors.
The choices are many for those who take the vow of Service. The only real requirement is that we take seriously the call to make service a regular part of our lives. When we take this vow, it means that we actively seek a place of service, rather than just serving when someone asks.
As a pastor, I can tell you that sometimes Service is difficult. Where does someone “Serve” when service is what you do for a living? But that doesn’t let me off the hook. I took the vows of membership once and I feel like it was a lifetime covenant that I made with God. How about we all serve together?
Grace and peace,
Pastor John Fleming