When I came to Calvary in 1999, I was told by the search committee that the church was looking for two things in their new pastor: a great preacher and someone who could teach them how to do mission better. We all preach the best we can, so the first one was moot. The second calling, however, was something I could sink my teeth into. I told them that a congregation’s mission should not be limited by what has been done before or how many people are on the church board. In fact, every person can have their own personal mission, or we can have large teams. Like my challenge to you every week, helping someone is part of our mission as people of faith. And it should be something we love.
So, I asked each person to consider their passion to do good. What matters to you? What happened in your life that leads you to help others? As they came to me, usually one at a time, they told me; and I nodded my head yes. Then, they went to work; some alone, some with partners in mission, some with other organizations. They made meals for homeless shelters or tutored through the United Way’s Ready.Set.Read! They gave money to Safe Berks or picked up litter on their block and ours. They joined groups working to fix the environment or supported LGBTQ rights. They gave of their time, money, love, and sweat to help others. Why? Because that’s what people of faith do – they help others with no expectation of praise or return.
What’s your passion? Is it taking care of animals – giving food to the un-homed – knitting blankets for newborns? You can drive people to appointments or train to be a volunteer chaplain or sing in the church choir; it isn’t the specific task that matters as much as the doing of that task. This is why I post a “good news story” every day; there’s so much bad news out there, so we should try to counter it with the light. One of my passions is wrestling (the real kind), so I have volunteered as a coach for almost 40 years. And you can have more than one passion; all that matters is that you find the truth that, as the wonderful Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Love is most fully known when it is shared and used and passed on, and doing for others allows that to happen. It doesn’t have to be huge; those of you who gave out a $5 bill randomly or helped someone with food know that firsthand. It is my belief that goodness grows exponentially; the hardest part is starting the ball rolling. Find your passion – do good work – then share what you did with me. I will put as many of your acts of generosity out there as I can (anonymously, of course) for others to see. Maybe you will inspire someone else to find their passion too. Maybe you will change the world for the better.
Prayer – God of generous acts, thank You for teaching us to share our love with others. May Your light overcome the growing darkness, Amen.
Today’s art is called “The Generosity” by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.