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November 19, 2017: A Call to Serve

by Rick Taylor

At Coffee Hour a few years ago, Jennifer Johnston mentioned that she was going to be short of help preparing breakfast at Christ House on Wednesday mornings.  The piercing gaze of hope and expectation she gave me made it clear that this was more of a summons than a suggestion.  So "OK" I said, and joined the Wednesday morning crew of All Souls parishioners who prepare and serve at Christ House, a residential treatment facility for homeless men with acute medical issues.

For an hour or so each week, we peel and slice, ladle and pour, wash and rinse.  Nothing our little team does requires any particular skill, and the routine is familiar enough to all of us by now that it doesn't really feel like work at all.   There will be a half-dozen or so meals to send upstairs to the patients and about 30 or so to serve to the guys who come in from outside, mostly from Kairos House, a satellite housing facility for men who have made an ongoing commitment to recovery from alcohol or drug dependency.  As soon as we finish the dishes and the kitchen is back in order, we all head off to our respective jobs and back to our predictably comfortable upper middle-class lives. 

I have no illusions that my modest individual contribution to this enterprise makes an earth-shattering difference in anybody's life, nor do I think it changes me in some deep spiritual sense.  I occasionally miss a week and things truck along just fine without me, and while I have occasionally pondered spiritual matters while washing dishes,  nobody is ever going to mistake me for some latter-day Brother Lawrence.  So why do I bother?

I do take some satisfaction from the knowledge that my contribution, though small, combines with many others to do something really important and good.  But the real reason I serve is that Jennifer asked me to.  And in our tradition, whether the call is as momentous as "Come follow me" or as mundane as "come help me fix breakfast," our faith is that there is ultimately one Source for all those myriad calls, both great and small, and anything offered in faith can be transformed and transformative in ways we can't know or see.   

We are all being called to serve right now by fulfilling our 2017 pledges to the mission and ministry of this parish and making new commitments for 2018. I tend to look at my pledge as something that I “owe.”  But that way of thinking about it tends to put it in the context of  just another bill to pay and obscures the fact that it is, in fact, a call to serve just as much as any other.  And what we offer in faith can be transformed as surely as water into wine and multiplied as surely as loaves and fishes.

Last Published: November 17, 2017 9:26 AM
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