~ On Being Needed ~
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion in the child of her womb?” ~ Isaiah 49:15
Dear Members and Friends,
It’s nice to be needed, isn’t it—to know that someone or something really depends on you to care for their needs? Being needed makes you want to do the best you can. I’m learning this anew since my younger daughter got a schnauzer puppy. It’s cuter than an Ewok but so very needy. It needs constant affection, constant instruction, constant play, and walks, and feedings. I’m not a dog person, but raising a dog from puppyhood is very endearing. Parenthood teaches you what it means to be needed, too. An innocent baby comes into the world and looks to you for absolutely everything. Your children need you to love them, cuddle them, discipline them, and teach them to eat, and talk, and use the bathroom. They need you to protect them, provide for them, and prepare them for the wonders and sorrows of the world. It’s humbling to be so needed; it’s daunting and somehow profoundly joyful.
As the church attempts to respond to the times in which we live, we need you, too. We need you now more than ever. What for? Six things. In our faith tradition, there are six “Great Ends of the Church.” These are life-purposes that never change, but the way we accomplish them can and must change. They are: “1) the proclamation of the gospel; 2) the shelter, nurture, and fellowship of the children of God; 3) the maintenance of divine worship; 4) the preservation of the truth; 5) the promotion of social righteousness [i.e., social justice]; 6) and the exhibition of the kingdom of God in the world.”
We used to provide for the “fellowship of the children of God” by having church picnics with egg-and-spoon races. At one time, we provided for the “preservation of the truth” by giving out pins for Sunday school attendance. The six “ends” have been our task in every age, but the way we accomplish them changes all the time. Which of these six duties calls out to you? Which is most suited to your interests and abilities? Is it a beautiful worship service that you love? Music? Is it engaging in issues of social justice? Or is it the relationships that keep you coming back for more? Each of these “ends” needs to be carried out in new ways in our post-pandemic world. And we need your help doing it.
What are we looking for? We’re looking for coffee hour hosts, as always, but not like before. We want hosts who keep the refreshments simple (maybe just store-bought cookies) but who try to get guests to mingle, making sure no one is left standing by themselves. We’re looking for lectors, as always, but not like before. We want lectors who believe in the power of the Scriptures to inspire and guide us, whose reading will bring life to words on a page. We’re looking for volunteer musicians, as always, but not like before. We want musicians who know that music is the best language to express the mystery, and the beauty, and the wonder of God. We’re looking for greeters, as always, but not like before. We want greeters who know how hard it is to show up at church sometimes—especially alone or as a stranger. We want greeters who will extend genuine warmth and hospitality to any and all who choose to get dressed and come to church on a Sunday morning. We’re looking for volunteers to work with the kids, as always, but not like before. We want people who love kids and understand their needs, people whose authenticity and respect for children comes through in their interactions. We’re looking for people to join the audio-visual team—like never before! We need many more people to step up and help with the urgent task of maintaining our congregation’s online presence. It’s not hard, but it takes a much bigger crew than we currently have. Me? I could use an advisor who’s under 30. Honestly! The church needs you. Anyone who has taken the vows of church membership ought to be engaged one of these six tasks. How can you use your gifts and talents to respond to the needs of Christ’s kingdom? Joy entails responsibility, but not to worry. It’s nice to be needed.
In Christ’s Peace,