Theme: Intentionally Volunteering Through One of Orleans United Church’s Ministry Teams Creates a Spiritual Energy that Inspires Each Other.
We read from another letter of Paul, Ephesians 2:4-10, in the Common English Bible.
4-5… God is rich in mercy and brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. God did this because of the great love that God has for us. You are saved by God’s grace! 6 And God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus 7 to show future generations the greatness of grace through the goodness shown us in Christ Jesus. 8 You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. 9 It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. 10 Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.
Over the past few years our Stewardship Conversation ministry team has explored various ways of describing the word “stewardship” in order to help us all appreciate what it means to be part of a community of faith like Orleans United Church. Recently we’re defining it as, “living faithfully as partners with God and each other.” Stewardship = Living Faithfully. But that has prompted a FAQ to our Stewardship Conversation: “So what does living faithfully actually include?”
One way we’ve imagined stewardship is as a journey that ideally includes 3 steps:
- actively PARTICIPATING in OUC’s ministry programs;
- financially SUPPORTING OUC’s overall mission and purpose; and
- intentionally VOLUNTEERING through at least one OUC ministry team.
Of course “living faithfully” is a lifelong journey, a work in progress for everyone, so we encourage your personal reflection and response, and invite everyone to consider your possible growing edges in these 3 vital steps of your stewardship journey.
Today we are focusing on the Third Step of that Journey, VOLUNTEERING. OUC’s Stewardship Conversation has a growing dictionary of stewardship-related words that currently has 22 words in it … it’s called “Words to Encourage Faithful Living.” You can check it out on our website, or ask John or Barb in the Hall after worship. One of those words is “Volunteer” and is defined as “offering yourself freely in service of a worthy cause for the benefit of others.” It goes on to suggest that, “volunteering through the ministries of Orleans United is a valuable way of expressing your Christian faith; the many good things OUC does in Christ’s name are possible because you unselfishly offer to share God’s work to help others.” And that’s where I resonate with our bible reading today and this is how I interpret it:
God loves us very much. So much, in fact, that God will not let the things we do wrong get in the way; and Christ’s life of forgiveness gives us what we need, the promise of goodness and grace to lift us beyond our weakness and worry. It’s like God shows us in Christ what life in all it fullness can be like; and if we call that heaven (being fully immersed in God’s loving presence), the truth is that welcoming it and receiving it as God’s gift is only part of the blessing. God offers heaven to us in Christ so we can live as examples today in order that future generations can also experience how God’s love works. We can’t do this on our own, but curiously neither does God – only in partnership with Christ, by God’s invitation. And when we say YES, God accomplishes with us a good thing, and that’s called MINISTRY, “doing good things for others in the love of Christ.” This appears to be part of God’s plan – blessing others by the way we choose to live our lives.
That’s what Ephesians 2 sounds like to me – God’s inspiration to volunteer our lives through Godly causes for the blessing of others. And around here, we call that MINISTRY … which by the way in another word in our Stewardship Dictionary to encourage faithful living and taken right out of Ephesians 2: “doing good things for others in the Spirit of Christ.” The definition goes on to make this application, “Ministry is your active participation in God’s work in the world. It’s not just what our paid ministers do; it’s so much more. Ministry is what we all do together as Christians.” These two words together, MINISTRY and VOLUNTEER, frame the third leg of everyone’s faith journey and help keep our church healthy, strong, and growing.
I was doing an internet search on volunteerism this week and stumbled on an interesting website called “DoSomething.net.” It challenges teens to take action in their community, and boasts that 45,000 teens get suggestions every week on how to help in their neighbourhoods. One of the docs on the website gives the “Top 11 Reasons to Volunteer.”
I’m not going to read them all to you, but I want to give you a taste.
#10 – Feel good about yourself! Know that, after volunteering, you did something really great. Be proud of yourself. Heck, treat yourself to some ice cream. #5 – It’s time to get off the couch. From the time you get home ‘til you go to bed, you park your lazy @$s in front of the TV. Honestly, you know you’re bored with it. Be productive for a change! #1 – Learn something about yourself. You may be a pied-piper in disguise … kids may adore you, but you’ll only find out after you spend some time mentoring a youngster. Experience is the key.
You get the idea.
And it got me thinking, what would be the Top 10 Reasons to Volunteer through Orleans United. So I asked a few folks for their thoughts … and I’ll ask you too. Stop by the Stewardship Conversation table in the Hall after worship and add yours to this list.
#10 To make new friends. Meet new people. Overcome loneliness. Make connections.
#9 To fulfill God’s dream for you. It’s not about earning God’s approval, but experiencing God’s possibilities. Could there be something you haven’t discovered yet?
#8 To offer what you’re passionate about through your church. Nothing says enthusiasm like offering what motivates and inspires you.
#7 To figure out what you’re passionate about. Part of your discerning process. Experiment with other ways to minister.
#6 To put your good ideas and intentions into action. Making a difference makes a difference to yourself and others.
#5 To help people experience God’s love. It makes you feel good about yourself and shares the blessing with others.
#4 To raise your awareness about other good things our church offers. Learn some new ways of ministry.
#3 To be a faithful example to future generations. Be the change. Be the inspiration. Model faithfulness to those who will grow by your example.
#2 To build community. Expands your awareness of opportunities to partner together, and partnership is how good things get done most effectively.
#1 To keep our church healthy, strong, and growing. OUC thrives on the efforts of all its people, not just Rev. Molly and me, not just the Council, but you too!
Doing the good things of God through your faith family creates an energy that is Spirit inspired. It’s what folk imagined 30 some years when OUC was just a dream … but not just a dream of the founding generation; it’s a dream that is renewed with each generation because it is God’s dream for us.