People told me not to work for my church. It takes the sweetness out of it, they said. Or you’ll see all the worst of the church… the conflict, the complacency, the arrogance. Or church won’t be holy to you anymore, it will become a to-do list. And what if you quit someday… they’ll freak out! Ha.
But honestly, working for this church allowed me to know you all and appreciate you all in such a unique and valuable way. To see the interworking’s of our church, particularly of you—the church—did not discourage but inspire me. And you encouraged me endlessly, which, I hope you know, meant the world to me.
Some of the warnings I mentioned were proven true. Last Sunday I was not focused entirely on the reverence and holiness of communion. Instead I was thinking about the dead fruit fly in the grape juice (sorry) and how to avoid shaking so much while speaking that you were distracted by it. Or there have been times when we as a staff have hurt one another’s feelings, or forgotten that the other is human for a moment. Or other times when fighting with WordPress or adding up the 23 naan bread receipts on my desk or making slides at 1am on a Saturday night has dampened my mood about church momentarily.
But, far and away, working for you has given me insight into who the church is (you) and the incredible ways Christ can appear and move (ways we do not expect and often do not even see). Cassie volunteers in more ways than I can count, and has constantly swooped in to willingly fill a roll (and save me) Sunday after Sunday. Rob meets with people in the community all week (every week) and tirelessly challenges other pastors and Christian leaders to address reconciliation, to acknowledge today’s issues, to partner as if we really are one body. Lenore brings creative ideas to us all the time and then makes sure they happen (you can thank her for the apples, the marginalization workshop, the manger danger feast, etc.). Holly has made sure babies are getting held and loved on Sundays, leads a small group with Jeremy out of their home, serves on our leadership team and pursues and loves numerous families in our church. Justin and Rory come early every Sunday to set the chairs up and tidy up the building. Sara has led children’s church for about 50% of the time these last few months. Danielle preaches and leads a small group, while Bob plays and writes music for us, also leads their group, and serves on our leadership team. Debbie and Randy open their home constantly. Melissa and Phil and Jeremy bring the word to us. Kris plays the drum or runs sound like every week. Curtis marked almost every box on his volunteer card (love the enthusiasm). Scotty goes above and beyond to infuse creativity into worship. About 75 of you volunteer or work for a non-profit organization serving in the Spokane community. I could go on forever. Honestly. My point, however, is to show you just a sliver of what I see. That is, I see servants helping anonymously, humbly and generously.
We are far from perfect, of course. There are ways we do not live out our mission, ways we are ignorant, ways we get comfortable or distracted. And there are so many ways we can and need to grow. But as we ask God to use us to participate actively and justly in the Kingdom of God (that’s a pretty tall order), I hope we can also celebrate the subtle ways he is demonstrating himself in our imperfect selves all the time—leaders, volunteers, staff members, little kids alike.
Thank you to those of you who give your time so freely. Those who give financially, thank you for keeping us afloat. To those who lead, thank you. To those who fill out volunteer cards, bless you. To those who gather people together, thank you! To those who open your home, your fridge, your wisdom, your wallets, your careers, and your gifts for the benefit of others and the subsequent proclamation of Christ, thank you.
May we hold in tension who we want to be, who we want the church to be, how we dream about authentically representing Christ, which is so deeply important, with who Christ is in us already. He is here and he is working, and he will continue to shape us into himself if we ask (and maybe even if we don’t).