Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

doing the work of the church

I've been reading Shaping Sanctuary (Tiffany recommended it during Reconciling lunch at this year's New England Annual Conference), and on page 134 there are two prayers from the Reconciling Congregation Program.

From Luke 9:28-36:
Radiant God, source of light,
as you surrounded Jesus with your glory,
so you come to us in a penetrating brightness.

You catch us off guard and expose our weakness.

We choose the limelight while you call us to explore the shadows
and brighten the darkness.

We seek the spectacular while you bind up the broken in
countless acts of mercy.

We seek to stay on the mountain or in a comfortable pew while
you walk to the valleys of need.

Radiant God,
fill us with light and courage to carry good news into all the
corners of the world and to bring back the joy of your presence.

From Matthew 15:21-28:
O God, you are Hospitality. You are Welcome. You are the Invitation, the Table, the Feast. By your spirit may we learn to receive and offer grace, to share from the sustenance of our lives and not simply the crumbs. Embolden us as we serve as the voice of those who continue to ask the church for justice and bread. In Christ we pray, amen.

My best friend and I have recently been discussing how to embody welcoming, inclusive, accessible church, and reading the second of these prayers in particular I was thinking about the demands that places on us the members who make up the Body of Christ that is the Church. And not only am I lazy, but I also mostly don't like people, so I am doubly disinclined to help do the actual do the work of welcoming people.

The line "to share from the sustenance of our lives and not simply the crumbs" from the second prayer really struck me. My best friend loves her church and wants to give her best to her church. I am, rather less devoted to CWM. It surprises no one, I expect, that I'm much more inclined to critique worship services etc. than I am to put in real work to help fix things. I think it's also tied to my unwillingness to claim group identity labels (like church/denominational membership).

CWM is my church home. Were I to pursue ordained ministry (WHICH I AM NOT DOING -- despite various people telling me I should), I would do it within the context of that community. It's the church I am most glad to return to when I have been out of town. I say it's my home church. But I'm really uncomfortable fundraising, for example -- uncomfortable with telling people this is a wonderful thing they should give their money to.

Though maybe I'm selling myself short.

I show up at Rest and Bread service and help set up chairs and put the inserts in the bulletins and photocopy more bulletins if we're running low. I've helped lead worship in any capacity as asked, and have sometimes volunteered when I know one of the usual leaders will be absent. I've bought firesticks [like this, only different] 'cause the ones in the chapel kept vanishing.

I help set up because I'm there early anyway and it's easy, and everything else is because I Want Things Done Right (well except for helping with the service itself, which is more because I'm capable and comfortable and willing when asked).

I think basically it's that I don't want to do anything that feels like work -- in the sense of not wanting to do anything that doesn't come naturally/easily to me. Which isn't necessarily inherently a bad thing. We're all given different gifts and graces (the Body needs many different parts) and yes we are called to grow, but...

I volunteer to lay read at any church I attend regularly -- because it's something I enjoy doing, and very selfishly it means there are bad lay readers less often.

Providing food for fellowship, for example, is one thing I really don't want to do -- though I'll sometimes help wash dishes at CWM (usually helping dry, because given the setup we have I'm not a huge fan of washing dishes there, even though in general it's a household "chore" I don't mind).

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