Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pedal Faster, Gilligan, Part 2

Continued from yesterday's post...

What can we learn about ministry – our ministry as the Body of Christ – from this passage from Luke’s gospel?

First of all, look at who is called to go forth in ministry.  The Lord appointed 70 others – that’s 70 other people than the 12 disciples.  Why 70?  Is that just how many people were standing around that day, listening to Jesus preach?  I don’t think so.  In Genesis 10, there are 70 nations of the world listed – in other words, 70 is symbolic for everyone.  Luke, who was very determined that we would all know that Jesus came for everyone, uses a number to convey a universality to who is called.  We are all called to ministry.  Jesus didn’t just call the 12 disciples, or just the priests – he called everyone.

The bicyclists didn’t wait for professional Tour de France riders to come to West Virginia and ride.  They saw a need, knew their skills and went to work.

I am a lay person in the United Methodist Church.  I am not ordained – I am not clergy.  Even so, I believe I am called to what I do, and I believe God is calling each of us – clergy and lay – to be God’s church in the world.  All 70 of us.

So, and I say this metaphorically, pick up your bike, Gilligan, and pedal.

We are told in the gospel passage that the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.  There is work to be done.  Have you ever been sitting in a church meeting, maybe looking at the budget, or at the list of volunteers, and felt a sense of hopelessness?  There are times when all we see is scarcity.  God sees abundance.  God sees everything that can be accomplished, and God has set that before us as a mission.

Many years ago, my church decided that we needed to reach out to the college students down the street who attend Marshall University.  We started a Thursday evening service designed for young people.  It included a meal, free internet access and coffee as well as alternative worship.   We called it Common Grounds.

It was a failure, at least if you look at what we tried to accomplish.  We are located 10 blocks from the school, but only one block from the city mission.  Instead of college students, we reached those in our community who are homeless.  Now, every Thursday evening, at least 100 and sometimes 200 people come to our church and are fed – dinner, because they are hungry and worship, because they are hungry.

When Common Grounds started, we would never have believed we could do what is now being done.  We would have said that we didn’t have the money and we didn’t have the people to make it happen.  God knew otherwise.  The ministry has evolved to where it is supported financially in ways we didn’t anticipate.  Those who cook and serve have multiplied so that now they are transformed by this ministry – we even have college students from down the street who come in to help.   There is abundance where we saw scarcity.

Pick up your bike, Gilligan, and pedal.

Continued tomorrow...

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