Tag Archives: Faith in action

Faith in Action

Yesterday was Resurrection Lutheran Church’s annual Faith In Action Day. Over 200 volunteers worked on a wide variety of service projects. From making snack kits for children-in-need and kitchen packs for families in transitions to serving meals at local food shelters, we honored and celebrated one part of our mission statement: To Serve the world God loves. I wrote about my first experience with Faith In Action day here.

Preparing Sandwiches at Dorothy Day Center

Preparing Sandwiches at Dorothy Day Center

It was a day that both encouraged and humbled me as a pastor. I was extremely proud to see children, youth, and adults using their gifts, talents and dependable strengths to help their neighbor. I felt like a cheerleader, supporting all the good works. I was also humbled because I realized that so much of the good that members do does not require a pastor, but rather the power of the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful for the team of lay members, led by Terri Dokken, who coordinated the fifteen projects we worked on.

Earlier in the morning I preached on Ephesians 2, especially verse 10,

For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Faith in A 2013 bIn my sermon, I talked about two kinds of good works. The first is the kind we experienced on Sunday, volunteer good works. As volunteers we do something directly to help our neighbor in need. We pack food at Feed our Starving Children or pound nails at Habitat for Humanity. These are valuable experiences where we learn about the needs of others and actually practice service in a tangible way. Plus it builds a sense of community and identity as old and new member work side-by-side.

Faith in A 2013But there is the second kind of good work, the daily good work, where we love our neighbor in our daily activity. A mom or dad who taxis the children to their daily activities, a nurse or doctor who treats patients, a social worker who aids families in caring for an aging parent: all of these can be considered good work. Some good works become our vocation or career. Hopefully as Christians we see our career as a way to serve others, either directly or indirectly. I have written regarding daily work on other posts: here and here.

Both volunteer and daily good works are valuable and productive. One of the values of volunteer work for youth and families is that it helps youth begin to discern their vocational callings, so that it can become “our way of life.”

Lord Jesus, help us to walk in the good works you have prepared for us.

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Trust Live Serve

Yesterday was Resurrection’s annual Faith-in-Action day, where over 200 members of the congregation served in a dozen different venues. It is a great tradition that reflects our congregation’s mission to Trust, Live and SERVE.  Last year I was inspired to write about it here.

Yesterday was full of Holy Spirit energy.  Children assembled Birthday Bags for the local food shelf, the puppet team preformed at a homeless shelter, and adults worked on a home damaged by last summer’s tornado.  Families were encouraged to work together so that the children could learn from their parents the value of service.

Several of us went to Woodbury Health Care Center to entertain and interact with the residents. I chose the Care Center because my mom recently became a resident there and I wanted her to meet some of the congregation.  Several of our talented youth and adults played piano or lead singing as together we worked to bring the joy of Jesus Christ into their lives.  Naturally many of them brought joy to our hearts as they affirmed our ministry together.

Service is not restricted to one day of the year.  We serve in our daily life.  When my mother was living in a nearby assisted living facility she was visited by one of our high school student who brought her dog along on Sunday afternoon visits.  The two were a big hit with the residents.

Volunteer service is a vital part of our community life together.  Most assisted living facilities and care centers have well-trained and committed staff who invest their lives in caring for our growing senior population.  The staff often works long hours with frail people who are often forgotten by society.  Serving alongside these professional evoked a sense of gratitude and awe at their daily ministry of caring for our aging parents and grandparents.

Community service helps us connect with segments of society that many of us ignore or forget: the 3M manager who helps stock the local foodshelf, the medical device sales representative who sings for a senior center, or the bank executive who pounds nails at a Habitat for Humanity work site.  Jesus calls us to move outside our “normal” areas of influence and control so that we can discover a different slice of the American life.  Service is not simply a band-aid on society’s ills; it can be an opportunity for education and inspiration for real transformative change.  We are changed as we serve.  Our smiles can grow into the deeper conviction for justice and righteousness.

Lord Jesus, teach me to serve as you have served me.

Making Space for Service

Jim, Carol Ann and the Bookcase

Yesterday was Faith in Action day at Resurrection .  More than 210 people participated in various service projects.   The text for worship was from John 13, Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and instructing his followers to be servant leaders.  I was impressed with how the Faith in Action Team had organized our service into teams.  Along with others, Jim Popkens and I were sent to a subsidized senior-housing complex to assist with any spring clean-up chores. 

We knocked on the door of our first assigned apartment and no one answered.  At our second apartment, we were greeted by a friendly, small woman whose apartment was immaculate.   She needed help with only one thing: to clean behind her refrigerator.   Jim and I did find some dirt, but we were finished in less than five minutes.  We had a brief chat with the resident and then moved on to our final apartment.   I was thinking, “We may be done in less than twenty minutes.”  

My thoughts quickly changed once we entered Carol Ann’s apartment.  It was overflowing with craft projects, magazines and books.  She had a bookshelf from Target that needed assembly to help with her storage.  Fortunately, Jim had some experience with these project.  We cleared some space in her small living room and pulled out all the wooden pieces, connectors, brads, screws and instructions out.  It was warm in her apartment, so she offered us a glass of water.  Under Jim’s guidance, the bookcase slowly  took shape. Once, as we tried to fit the lower and upper halves together, nothing seemed to work.  Nothing that is until Jim discovered how the special internal latches had to be turned just so.  I think I would still be there if I had been doing the project alone.  

As we left Carol Ann’s apartment, she asked us about why we did this.  We briefly explained that it was part of our church mission to serve, to give back to the community.  She thanked us and we started our journey home.  Our service was nothing profound, yet I reflected my own love of books and how vital a bookshelf can be.   Service can often be simple: washing feet, cleaning behind refrigerators or assembling a bookcase.    Yet simple acts are at the heart of Christian love.

How has your faith been active of late?