One of the things that leads many people to claim a spiritual home as their own is feeling deeply heard, seen, and understood by that community. This week in worship we will hear from our Lay Ministers about the ministry of deep listening that they offer to our congregation, how this service has deepened their spiritual journeys, and how all of us can minister to one another by offering a listening presence.
Wherever our lostness is found, our fragments are united, our wounds begin healing, our spines stiffen, and our muscles grow strong for the task, there is ministry.
I’m grateful to Jim for leading us into the sharing of our joys and sorrows, to Jane for offering today’s reading, and to Marcia and Gretchen for sharing about how their service as Lay Ministers deepens their spiritual journeys, why this work in our congregation is important to them. As Lay Minister Beverly Schnetzler wrote to me, “the rewards of lay ministry happen when a person feels heard, when our ability to listen can make a difference in the connection the person feels to our community.”
This is a congregation so very rich in dedication and commitment. I know many of you get so much out of the ways you serve with this community, whether it’s as an RE teacher, a member of the Board, a member of a committee or task force. That’s one of the great blessings of church community – the chance not only to serve together, but to learn and grow and be changed while doing it.
But the ministry that the Lay Ministers lead in our congregation doesn’t begin and end with them or with me. The work of caring for one another, learning to deeply understand one another and make space to share joy and pain, that’s ministry that belongs to every person who considers this congregation their own. As I say nearly every Sunday, you don’t have to be a Lay Minister to reach out to others in the congregation. You don’t need an official role or title to send someone a card, or give them a call, or even just light a candle of hope for them on your altar at home.
And many of you have done the work of pastoral ministry already, even if you don’t think of it that way. Ever since I got here I’ve heard about the telephone tree so many of you made happen during the beginning of the pandemic. 20 or 30 of you, Lay Ministers and others, made sure every person or family received a phone call to check in and see how people were doing.
When people in the congregation have been very sick, every one of you who has shown up for a healing circle, every choir member who has sung for members at the end of their lives, every person who has contributed refreshments after memorial services or dropped off a meal for someone who needed it, all of you have served the pastoral ministry of this church.
Just last Sunday I shared with a small group of you something my mom used to tell me as a teenager when I didn’t want to get up early and go to church. She said “Well church isn’t all about you, Kristin. There might be someone there today who needs you to be there. And you need to go so you’ll be there for them.” As we each change and the world around us changes, may UUCSS continue to be a congregation where we are here when people need us. Amen.