Our MHBC mission statement says that we are a church where everyone can “belong, grow, and serve.” I want to share with you a few thoughts about service in this space. First, I take note that our Lay Mobilization Team recently offered a one-hour training session for those who are interested in knowing what our MHBC ministry teams do. The LMT is constantly looking for ways that gifted people can plug into the ministries of our church.
And I further note that one of the components of the Women’s Retreat at Skycroft in May also has to do with discovering and using our God-given spiritual gifts in ministry. Also, (commercial time!) the Journey 101 course that I am currently leading on Wednesday evenings includes a unit on service this month.
Mark 10 tells us that our most important motivation for service comes from Jesus himself. He came not to be served but to serve. That is our calling as well; the expectation is not that others will serve us, but that we will serve others. If we are willing to give our time, energy, and gifts, there is always a place for us to serve. Indeed, the way of Jesus includes loving and serving others the way that Jesus loved and served them.
We don’t have to look very far to find people in need, and prayerfully, we should be moved and motivated to serve as our Lord did. We have spoken many times here of “heart-bursts.” Who does our heart burst for? What does our heart burst for? As Frederick Buechner once famously said, “The place God calls us to, is the place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
I believe in a church with no “unemployment.” I have spoken to you about the “Pareto Principal,” which says that about 20% of church members do about 80% of the ministry in a church. I don’t know about that. I suspect that the percentage is a good bit higher here at MHBC. One of the values we hold dear is working to change spectators into participants; getting people out of the bleachers and onto the playing field.
We can do this by spending time with passages of scripture that have to do with spiritual gifts, or by taking a Spiritual gift analysis. We can do this by praying for guidance. We can do this by asking others to tell us what they think our gifts are. One thing is sure. If you are willing to stretch, grow and commit your heart and life to ministry for Christ, I pledge that you will receive nothing but encouragement and help from our LMT team, and from the church staff. We will be there to help you or we will find someone who can.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us. Thank you for the gifts you have given. May we discover them and use them in service to others and for the building of your Kingdom, to the glory of your name. Amen.
In Christ, Pastor Joel
The most used word in this time of year we call the Christmas Season is the word "gift." Most of us will spend a great deal of time in coming weeks frantically searching for gifts, trying to find the right gift for the right person at the right price. God gave the first and best Christmas gift, the gift of his son Jesus.
The days leading up to Christmas are some of the most beautiful, exciting, and meaningful days of the year. A fair amount of anxiety and worry is also produced, I’m afraid. The Advent season has long been seen as a time of preparation and anticipation, but Advent too, has fallen prey to cluttered schedules, distractions, “to-do” lists, obligations, and many of us find that we miss out on the very sacred opportunities that are available to us.
During this season of Advent 2017, even as our thoughts turn to gifts, shopping lists, and our own wish lists, we as a community of faith, will be exploring the gifts God gives us in the coming of the Christ child. Reflecting on passages from Isaiah together each Sunday, we will consider what it means to receive and
open those gifts as we unpack the theme, “Christmas Gifts to Open.”
I ran across a story of a man who received a Christmas gift 49 years ago, and still hadn’t opened it. Imagine that! How would you feel if you gave someone a gift to express your love and you found out later that they had not even bothered to open it? I suspect that this is what much of the world does with God’s Christmas gifts. So often, God’s Christmas gifts will remain unopened and un-received. A gift is not a gift until it is opened.
I look forward to opening the gifts of vision, peace, song, and presence with you each Sunday during Advent worship. Christmas is not about the gifts and the gift-swapping. It is about THE gift, God’s Christmas gift to us all. I invite us all to open our hearts and minds to receive God’s greatest gift this year, to allow Jesus to be born anew into our life. I pray for each member and friend of MHBC, a very joy-filled, and meaning-full Christmas!
Grace and Peace, Joel
Rev. Dr. Doris Barron-Shell