Are you the cook in your family? Can you imagine having to stay late at work and coming home and everything is working smoothly, including dinner on the table. What if you volunteered to coach a little league team and you could not be there to coach the big game and the parents stepped in and they won without you. It would probably make you feel good. Well, that is not just an idea; it became a reality for us recently.
This past Sunday, I was on vacation. Pastor Julie and Laura were in charge of worship. Laura became ill. (Laura has never been ill on Sunday morning). One could panic especially if you were Julie. But neither Julie nor the handful music team members batted an eye. They looked around, assessed who could do what, and worship happened. Good things do happen in this world.
This is a dream come true. Early in my ministry, I dreamed of a day when my congregation could run it. It was the reasoning behind my decision in the first years of my ministry to create a position, Director of Lay Ministry. I knew that lay people had the skills and ability to carry out the functions of the church.
I am mindful of the scripture that tells the story of Jesus sending 70 people ahead of him into village to announce the news that the kingdom of God had come near, Jesus the messiah, was here. God had arrived. It you give it any thought at all, it seems a bit crazy to put this responsibility into the hands of some average folk who have little or no training. But Jesus did just that. It didn’t always run smoothly but they learned as they lived the life of discipleship.
The church is the people of God. While there is a need to have people set aside to do certain things to help organize and train people to oversee the preaching, teaching, and administration of the sacraments, the majority of the life and work of the church is in the life of its weekly attenders. God calls, gathers, equips, and sanctifies the life of the believers.
I saw a quote this week from a book, The Long Obedience in the Same Direction, by Eugene Peterson who is well known for his paraphrase of the Bible into modern day English, The Message. The idea in short is that the best thing a pastor can do for his parishioners is help them develop their own relationship with God. When people grow in their trust of God with their lives, they grow in grace and understanding of their neighbor.
All of us, whatever role we play in the life of the church, are journeying together in our relationship with God and each other. God trusts us with Her church. She walks behind, alongside, and in front of us all along the way. When we know and believe that we are called and equipped by God we feel confident to step out in faith and do whatever we can to announce the Good News that God is alive in our life and Good things can happen.
That is what happened Sunday. People stepped forward equipped and faithful. They felt confident that they could lead worship. Pastor Julie knew that God comes to her people no matter how together we think we have to have it before she will come. God comes and God sends and God knows that it will not be perfect, but it will be faith filled. Goods things do happen because God flows through us.