Owning Our Ministry
- Sunday, June 4, 2017
- By Father Robin Ruder-Celiz
Today is a big day for us. This is Pentecost Sunday. Today we have blessed a new carpet in the Naïve and Sanctuary. We will also be blessing our new exterior stairs. We have balloons in church [and many of you are wearing red] all to help celebrate and usher in the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and us. A few moments ago we gave thanks and honored those who have shown leadership and dedication with our Sunday School program. Following the service there will also be the Sunday School BBQ where we can gather as a parish community and celebrate all we have accomplished together this past year. This is a great day with so much to celebrate.
But why Pentecost? What makes Pentecost so special that we give this feast day so much attention? We celebrate today, in part the ministry of the Church. By Church I mean all of us here today, not just our beautiful church building. The Church is all of us who come faithfully each week and who are sent out into the world to do God’s work. This is the day where we hold up parts of our ministry and give thanks for how they shape and give meaning to us.
Our ministry takes many forms and has changed over the years. Part of our ministry is being a resource, with the use of our buildings, to the community. We become the meeting point and a place of connection between ourselves and many community groups and events.
We have approximately 12 regular Community Partners including Scouts, CODA, TOPS, Special Olympics and Regional programing to name a few. To that we have on average about 3 occasional Community Partners that use our hall and meeting room as a venue, not to mention a host of one-off parties and gatherings that occur during the year. We are a busy place and almost every week we get a new application to use our facilities for one event or another.
While we may not see many of these people on a Sunday morning we none the less play an important role in their lives. We become the point of connection for people with the wider community and programing. Relationships between neighbors and friends are formed and strengthened. People are fed and stretched beyond their comfort zones as they learn and develop new skills here in this place. This is the place where people find support and strength to be more fully alive and whole. While many of these people do not come here to consciously find God and nurture their Spiritual lives, or even to talk about God; God finds them and meets them here where they are in their lives in 2017. We are, whether we realize it or not, and as frustrating as it can be at times when schedules clash between Community Partners, we are the place where God meets God’s people in the midst of their lives.
This is exciting to understand in this way and we may even get excited about the income that is generated from these groups. While that is exciting, the income and money is not the point. We don’t rent out our space to generate more income. We rent our space because we recognize that this is a valuable resource and ministry opportunity to the community. This is what God has called us to do. God does not call us to make more money for the sake of making money. We are called by God to minister to God’s people here and now when and where they need us. Any income that we do generate from our Community Partners should go into generating and funding more ministry opportunities. Imagine what we could achieve if we realize a day when we did not have to rely on Community Partners such as the ones I have just mentioned to help pay the bills. All income generated from Community Partners would be considered “extra” income or surplus. I wonder what that would feel like. I wonder what possibilities and options may open up for us.
We have a great gift in our buildings that can help us serve and minister to God’s people here in Upper Lonsdale and beyond. So yes it is important to maintain and upgrade our physical buildings regularly and when needed. But we should not lose sight of why we need to do this work.
We bless carpets and stairs to remind us of the purpose of our buildings and how we are called to serve God in this community. As we look to the future and dream our dreams; what vision do we see God providing to us in the years ahead? How are we to continue to be a point of connection between God, the community and ourselves?
Today we are reminded that just as Jesus was sent by God, Jesus sends us with the Holy Spirit into the world where God’s people are found so that they may form a connection with the Divine in a new and marvelous way. As we receive the Holy Spirit this Pentecost, my prayer for us is that we discern and admit what our true ministry and focus as a parish should be. When we identify what that is, I pray, we own it and live into it completely. This will mean that we will have to leave behind or sacrifice well established ways of being. As hard as that sacrifice will be we will also know a freedom that knows no boundaries.
Come Holy Spirit of God and fill the hearts of thy faithful people and kindle in them the fire of thy love. Amen.