A few years ago, I was invited to preach at the congregation where I grew up. They were celebrating their 60th anniversary as a congregation that year. As part of that, they invited those who had graduated from high school in the past 15 years or so and are currently involved in some kind of ministry to come back and share with the congregation how our involvement with the various ministries of the congregation leads us to lives of service. There are six people that I know of who were invited back–some were pastors or in seminary, some were working in camp ministry, some had participated in Young Adults in Global Mission or Lutheran Volunteer Corps. We were all asked to give a mission moment highlighting some of the ways Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church and its ministries had shaped and supported our calls to service.
So, I preached on the lectionary texts for the day and then during the offering shared with the congregation the ways God worked through them to shape and support my call to ministry. I spoke of the children and youth programs where I was given the opportunity to ask questions and explore the Bible and faith in my daily life. I spoke of their support and encouragement to attend Bible camp and the importance that has played in my life. I spoke of being given the opportunity to learn leadership skills and share my own faith through volunteering with VBS, middle school programs and high school retreats when I aged out of each of those particular programs. I spoke of their prayer and financial assistance as I attended college and seminary. Above all, I lifted up the role that relationships with various pastors, congregational adults of all ages, and my own peers were significant in my call to ministry, and I had the opportunity to thank them for the ways they have touched my life.
I share all this because whether we are part of ministry as a profession or not, we all have stories and people who have shaped our ministry as part of the priesthood of all believers. People who talked with us and allowed us to question, people who lived lives of great faith even though they never spoke of them, congregations and other institutions that have allowed us to reach out to share the love of God with a hurting world.
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
We are all called to lives of service to God. These lives take many different forms, but we are all called to share the love of God with all we encounter. However, we do not do this alone; we are surrounded by those who have come before us and by those who walk alongside us. We have the assistance of God, the three in one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, I invite you to think about the people, places, and events that have shaped your faith up to this point. How have they done so? And how can you do the same for others?
Pastor Megan Graves, June 2021