Picking Pencils, or Pinpointing People to Do the Job?: Old First E-pistle 09.28.18
I used to stop into choir practice quite often; I am not sure why I don’t anymore? It’s a great time to visit a catch up with people, sort of a second weekly, small group fellowship hour. And, about 7 on Thursdays, I am still at the office almost always. Also, Lord knows, with the choir being perhaps the most time-committed group in the church, they deserve support.
Anyway, I don’t remember the reason, but I ended up in the Sanctuary last week right before the choir began their rehearsal. I was eating a tomato from Beth’s garden at church. Holly was getting settled, and maybe about half the choir that would be there that Thursday night was assembled.
One member took a pencil out of the pew racks and — commenting how the tips are always broken so the pencils are unusable — offered, “We should get mechanical pencils so the whole sharpening question isn’t an issue.”
My first response — though I’m not sure if I spoke it out loud or just thought this — was that “I believe the two volunteers from our church, cleaning up the Sanctuary every Monday and picking up the slips from the visitors’ pads, sharpen the pencils.” I thought to myself, “Maybe the sharpened pencils break when they are put back in the pew racks?”
But the conversation sprinted forward. I said, somewhat jokingly, “We’d have to figure out where to come up with the money.” The choir member with the original idea for mechanical pencils added, “I even have an idea about how we can come up with the money.” I laughed, “Imagine the difficulty when the pencils run out of lead, and we need to replace it.” The mechanical pencil advocate said, “We could get disposable mechanical pencils.” Someone else jumped in, “There is also this really great design, mechanical pencils you can get from Staples. I’d like to show them to you all.”
About this time, I bit into the tomato, and a squirt of tomato juice landed on the piano. And someone laughed and made some crack about “karma.” I’m not sure if it was bad karma I’d earned for getting tomato juice on the piano or that the squirting tomato was itself the symptom of already earned bad karma?
I recount all this, because eventually, I made some crack like “Here we are in church where we are supposed to be about what matters most and we’re discussing broken tipped pencils vs. mechanical pencils.” I fear that some of involved in or listening to the conversation thought I was dismissing the topic as unimportant. But that wasn’t really my intention.
I was just noting that “here we are at church where we talk about things like life and death, salvation and peace, love and respect — the weighty things! But still sometimes we end up talking about little details.”
Church, you might have to be a pastor to realize how many little details need to be in place in order to make church work! 30 years into ministry, it continues to amaze me.
And many of those little details are not, cannot be covered by the church staff alone. It takes a congregation to do the variety of tasks from welcoming to accounting to visiting to decision-making to teaching to getting people to sign up, to setting up and tearing down, to making sure the bills are paid, and to crafting some plans and a vision. Oh, yeah, someone also needs to make sure that there are pencils to be used in the pews too.
Kristyn, Holly, Alesha, John, Marisol, the nursery workers and I, we have a lot — our own work — to do too. But without your helping hands and responsibility, without your loving hearts and creativity, without your energy and follow through, we quite literally couldn’t be the church. The things that our membership is responsible for — it’s not just window dressing or icing. Often, it’s the heart of what the church is about.
If you would like to be more involved with church, please let us know. It’s not some secret club of those who do the work! I promise, if you have help to offer, we can use it. You could speak with Beth Walker who is the leader of our Discernment Team. Or you can speak with me. Or just message Kristyn in the office. If all of those seem too much — just tell someone around here that you might be able to help. I trust the Holy Spirit to pass the message along!
In Ecclesiastes we read, “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Translating that a bit to my topic today, I choose to believe that “for every task under heaven, there is a person, and a person with the right gifts and talents for everything that needs to be done.”
Of course, there is much discernment and some matching up to be done. And often in order to do something, we have to rearrange other things in our lives. That’s the part that is like choosing the pencils that will serve best in our pews. It will involve a lot of discussions and different possibilities, none of which are above disagreement. But it is said that God is in the details. Too often church shies away from making choices or asking people to serve and support them in their service. Isn’t that about our failing to trust God to watch over us all?
By the way, I’m all for trying the mechanical pencils in the pews. Maybe we could get ones printed with the church’s name and contact info!!!
See you in church,