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“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

May, 2019

It’s time for my twenty fifth annual post-Easter column! Wow! They say time flies when you’re having fun. In the days as Easter approached, I wondered what I’d find to write about this year. There’s a quote that has been falsely attributed to the late United States Commissioner of Patents, Charles Holland Duell, that, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Considering that he supposedly said it in 1899, and the progress since then, it hardly seems reasonable that anyone living at the time could have known what to expect. Still, I was beginning to think I’d written everything that could be written about Easter at Maplewood UMC.

As my wife, Charlotte, and I arrived at church Easter morning, I tried to have an open mind and—I hope—a heart that was open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Kim did her usual excellent job during the “sunrise service,” then there was the traditional Easter breakfast, prepared and served by a hard working group of MUMC men. After breakfast, Tom, the leader of the gang, took a moment to recognize each man for his individual contributions. Some chopped ingredients, some made pancakes, some set the tables, some cooked sausage, some made omelets, and some were seemingly everywhere, doing whatever needed to be done. Meanwhile, other folks who weren’t involved in preparing breakfast were making sure visitors were welcome.

After breakfast, some people filled and hid eggs for the children’s Easter egg hunt. Others filled “blessing bags” for people to give to homeless and disadvantaged people we might meet in the coming weeks. I have to confess that I found a quiet corner and tried to take a nap since I’d only had about three or four hours of sleep. Later, the praise band and choir practiced music for the upcoming Easter service. Once again, Pastor Kim delivered an excellent, inspiring sermon, and we were buoyed into the coming week.

Just like the breakfast crew, throughout the morning, everyone had a place to be and a job to perform. If you haven’t guessed by now, that’s my message this year. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For just as the human body is one and yet has many parts, and all its parts, many as they are, constitute but one body, so it is with the Church of Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12 Weymouth New Testament). That morning, each of us had a role to follow, a niche to fill. Some cooked, some ate, some welcomed, some prepared for the coming week, some sang or otherwise made music, at least one took a nap, and still others listened.

In our daily lives, we’re called to continue filling whatever role God has for us. The church service ends but we don’t stop being the church. Our church’s mission statement says, in part, “Go into the world to do God’s work.” Paul wrote that, “by God’s appointment there are in the Church—first Apostles, secondly Prophets, thirdly teachers. Then come miraculous powers, and then ability to cure diseases or render loving service, or powers of organization, or varieties of the gift of ‘tongues.’” (1 Cor. 12:28 WNT). There have always been roles in the church besides “Apostles” and “Prophets,” beyond pastors, roles appointed by God. There are people who can work miracles and there are others who have “powers of organization.” Other translations render it as “government” or “administration” or even “leadership” but I can’t help liking “powers of organization.” Some folks almost turn it into a superpower. In fact, sometimes keeping things organized can be a miracle in itself. Whatever we do in the church and in our daily lives can be vital to the church’s mission, and to God’s work in our world.

“Everything that can be invented” hasn’t been invented. Every soul in need hasn’t been saved. And every life in want hasn’t been touched. There is still God’s work to be done and it’s up to us to do it. As we continue to act as God’s hands and feet, as we continue to “Go into the world to do God’s work,” we can impact the world and show others that what we believe is worth a look.

“For, in fact, in one Spirit all of us—whether we are Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free men—were baptized to form but one body; and we were all nourished by that one Spirit.
“For the human body does not consist of one part, but of many. . . . But, as a matter of fact, God has arranged the parts in the body—every one of them—as He has seen fit. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But, as a matter of fact, there are many parts and but one body.” (1 Cor. 12:13-14, 18-19 WNT.)

Copyright © 2019 by David Phelps