Lectionary resources for worship, faith formation, and service
This week’s Gospel reading in which the disciples vie for the best seat at the table with Jesus is hitting a bit too close to home for me. It’s not that I intentionally seek out recognition or secretly long to be “the favoured one” but I do want our church to be successful at what we do and that’s where I’m feeling the pinch of Jesus’ words about being great.
We’ve been working extra hard this fall trying to meet the needs of the spiritual but not religious crowd in our neighbourhood. We’ve built a labyrinth in the parking lot. We’re offering a yoga series based on the parables. We have a new book club, a soul collaging night once a month and small group ministry that invites people to explore life’s big questions. By all outward appearances we’ve got a happening little church.
But this fall the weather has been spectacular on the west coast of Canada and many of our groups are undersubscribed. We’re blaming the weather of course because if it were something else we’d have to take a closer look at what we’re doing. In the meantime, the Thrift Shop we operate once a week is thriving. New volunteers sign up almost every day.
We’re talking about adding on to our building to give the shop a permanent home. And the kicker is more than triple the number of people show up to shop each week then show up to worship on Sunday mornings. When it comes to successful ministries in our church, the Thrift Shop is at the top of the list.
So what’s my problem? My problem is that the ministries in which I invest much of my life energy are struggling. Sunday morning worship, study groups, spiritual retreats, children and youth programs are vibrant but small. And when I read this week’s scripture I see myself in James and John, wanting to be recognized for all my hard work and effort, for being “good” at spreading the Good News. And then I hear Jesus say to be truly great is to be a servant. It has to do with being willing to walk the path he walked and to drink the cup he drank. It has nothing to do with numbers.
This week someone asked me what the spiritual practice of the Thrift Shop is. It was an excellent question. My response which included words like hospitality, inclusion, belonging, simplicity, compassionate care, purpose and alternate economy made me realize that the Thrift Shop truly is about servanthood. No wonder it is such a successful ministry. I wonder what it has to teach me about true greatness.