I visited one of the members of the congregation today—a true pillar of the church. That term is often used for someone who gives enough to pay half the pastor’s salary, or single-handedly runs the annual Church Fair, or always provides the goodies for Sunday coffee. This wonderful lady does none of those things, but she is, nonetheless, a pillar of the church. Everyone knows her, she talks to people I don’t get to (and people who are too timid to talk to the pastor), and she really listens to what I say in sermons (I get some of my best feedback from her). She takes on small tasks that other people don’t even realize need to be done.
Her health has been declining lately, and she’s understandably depressed, afraid of losing touch with her friends now that she’s virtually housebound, fearing becoming a burden to her partner, and generally feeling that life is over at far too young an age.
What can you say to someone in her situation? She’s far too sophisticated and smart to be calmed by platitudes, and her fears are realistic. I can’t sit there and say, “Things will work out,” or “well, at least you’re still here.” That’s not helpful to her (or to me).
So we talked about what she can still do for the church, even at home, and how we can get her to church with her medical equipment-who has a van or station wagon we can use? Who comes from this end of town? What does the church need done that she can do from home—phone calls? Care notes written?
She wants to be a part of the church she has loved and needed for so long—and which still needs her. She wants to serve.
The congregation has also been involved recently in fundraising for a young man who was shot in an apparent hate crime (the police think so, but it’s not being prosecuted that way). For various reasons, his health insurance is not covering all of the expenses. So the community-—his friends, his co-workers, his family’s friends and co-workers—-have stepped up to fill in the gap. Word of the incident has spread far and wide (thanks to the Internet) and donations have come in from all over the region. There have been fundraising events, coverage on TV and the radio, and newspaper stories.
So how do we serve each other? Do we make phone calls? Do we send donations to a young man we've never met? What does it mean to serve one another in love?
Every one of the people at the fundraiser last night was serving that young man. Every call made by my parishioner is service to a fellow church member.
Go now, to love and serve God and your neighbour.