Dear First Pres Family,
When approached by someone in need, I try to engage them. This is true whether it’s a person on the sidewalk, asking for help in a traffic exit lane, or knocking at the door of a ministry that I have worked at. I look them in the eye, try to listen, and aim to treat them respectfully and directly, the way I would want to be treated. I respond as I deem appropriate, though rarely to the asker’s satisfaction.
At that point I sometimes hear that a Christian or Christian ministry must help them. They assure me, in so many words, that Jesus would help them, for that is always what Jesus did. I shared some of these thoughts on Sunday. If you missed it, you can listen to it here. I do find these words echoed by our broader culture, inside and outside the church: Jesus helped everyone. He never overlooked anyone. He poured himself into every person.
This may sound right, but such sentiment is not reflective of reality. Jesus came to earth fully human. He could only be one place at a time. He experienced hunger, thirst and tiredness. Jesus walked by far more people than he healed. He left far more people hungry than he fed. He made difficult choices of where to put his time and energy; who to pour himself into and who to walk away from.
In the story from Sunday in John 15, Jesus picked out just one man to heal: one man to show compassion to; one man who would be part of his broader mission of heading to that cross. That mission was to save everyone. His ultimate healing for all would come only through relinquishing his life; his death and resurrection, and the promise of life to come. That was his big mission. But on this one day there was one man he showed compassion and mercy to and healed.
Each of us too is human. We are limited. We cannot engage with everyone, or every good cause or purpose. We have limited time, energy and resources. Yet our calling is to serve and love others. If we confess Christ as Lord, rejoicing in the work that he did for us on that cross and achieved through his resurrection, then we choose to engage with others, reflective of the thankfulness we have in our hearts. Our serving others is an expression of our gratitude. Our loving others recognizes that we do so because Christ did so and calls us to.
You may feel tired and overworked, or you may have a lot to give. You can’t do everything today or serve everyone this week. But you can do something that makes a difference in a person’s life and that expresses your thankfulness to God.
Here is an idea for you. Vacation Bible School is just around the corner. VBS is a monstrous success every year at FPGE because the Spirit of God is at work in it and this body of Christ is behind it. VBS needs you: whether for one day or all week; helping with set up and snacks; or being a teacher or small group leader or helper. VBS takes a village my friends. You cannot do everything, but you can do something. Consider helping a bit or a lot with VBS this year. If you have questions or interest, please reach out to Liz Merrell: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expressing gratitude to Christ with you,
Associate Pastor for Congregational Care