Listen to me when I complain, God! Protect my life from the enemy’s terror! (Psalm 64:1 – CEB)
My participation in church stretches back as far as my memory. The house where I grew up is on the same block as the small UMC in which I was raised. My parents modeled church leadership for me. It was a reality for the church to survive. Someone had to do the work so they did it.
My dad’s parents were also key players in church leadership. My grandpa was the church council chair when the mortgage document was burned, and my grandma faithfully served as the board’s recording secretary and newsletter writer for decades as well as leading the adult Sunday school class.
Our tiny church was part of a two-point charge, and it remains so today. Our pastors lived in the parsonage at the bigger church. I remember weekly trips to get the bulletin done. I don’t know if my dad or mom was responsible for typing or copying or some combination. But I know every Saturday we’d have to drive to the pastor’s house and get something, come back to the church and make the copies.
The next town over was certainly bigger than ours, and it had a Dairy X, like a cafe and ice cream shop. If I reach back into my memory, I can still taste the soft serve swirled into a Styrofoam cup and hear the clink of the pool table balls on the Saturdays we got to stop there as a treat for accompanying Daddy on the errand.
As my grandparents aged, my parents took over as the board chair and recording secretary. For years my mom wrote the “Grace Notes” newsletter and brought it into the 21st century with an emailed version in addition to the print outs available during worship each Sunday. A small church requires everyone’s participation, and my parents’ roles were in leadership. They also were lay servants and leaders, occasionally preaching and always teaching.
I’ve been a member of several United Methodist Churches since I left my hometown, volunteering my communications skills in several, but I’ve never been as connected as I am at St. John’s. Part of that is longevity — other than my hometown church this is the congregation in which I’ve spent the most time. But of course St. John’s has become more than that. You are my family, helping us raise our daughters.
I want to be an instrument of God’s work, and I learned that desire and how to do that from my parents and grandparents. Using my talents at St. John’s evolved over the years. I started by inserting myself into website re-launching discussions with Pastor Juan. It was slow going with the web firm they had hired, but I had the skills to project manage (and light code) to get the finished site online. I’ve helped with two more complete redesigns of the website since, and think of myself as a “web servant.”
Pastor Juan also asked for my help doing sermon videos. I didn’t realize that his asking me to simply “push a button” would lead me to the work I’m doing now, editing worship videos during a pandemic when we can’t all worship together in person. As I work, I try to let worship flow through me — through my keyboard as I type the captions, through my mind as I ponder transitions and the best crops, through my heart as I sing again and again the songs of praise to get the lyrics aligned on screen. If I look at it like that, what a gift that I am able to be part of this work enabling others to experience the risen Savior from their homes.
In this weird, upside down time of COVID-19, my skills and availability as a part-time work-from-home mom with a supportive partner and co-parent have aligned with a church need for worship at home. Sometimes it feels like I was made for a time such as this.
Loving God, thank you for those role models and teachers who lead us to you in service and love. Make us more like Jesus in all that we do. Amen.