The Divine Mystery exists in each of us. We are Stewards of that Mystery.
When I was in seminary, a group of us went with regularity to a feeding ministry downtown in Milwaukee. It was in the basement of an Episcopal church and fed over one hundred people, six days a week. I remember enjoying that work a great deal for many reasons, not the least of which was that when I couldn’t read one more book or write one more paper, I could always hand a meal to someone who was hungry. It was tangible and offered an immediate and direct opportunity for service. I felt that a good portion of my preparation was not as concrete — reading books about ministry was different than actually doing it.
Three things about that experience have stuck with me. The first is simple: someone else had made the effort to set up that ministry. The organizers made it very easy for a person to simply show up and be useful. I always appreciated that. The second was what the director used to say every day we gathered just before we prayed and served food. He’d look at us and say, rather sternly, “We’re not here serving today because we’re do-gooders; we’re here today because this is what Christians do.” He was right, of course, and that statement is one I think of often as I try to live out the promises of my Baptism.
The third thing I remember is that I thought more highly of that type of service than my other seminary preparation. I didn’t love to study at that stage of my life. I was not far enough along yet to realize that preparing to serve is serving. I was in my twenties and wanted to get out and quickly find work worth doing — and then get on with it. I had not yet begun to understand the value of pace and patience, of thorough consideration of what I was about to do and why. I had Urgency for the sake of Gospel down cold; I couldn’t see that urgency without planning often leads to a disappointing outcome.
I also missed something much more fundamental. Performing acts of service to God and my neighbor is not something I do strictly on my own. When Jesus tells us the Kingdom is within us, part of what he means is that as His baptized followers, God is performing the work of the Kingdom through us. The work belongs to God, not us. We are the instruments of God’s work.
Because God works through us, there is a peace that comes from knowing that we are not doing things for God, we are doing them with God.
Questions for the day:
How do I let God lead me? How do I make room to listen for God’s direction?