“God Bless You in Your Ministry.”
These were the closing words of an email sent to me by our Director of Liturgy in response to my request that I be taken off the lector schedule for the month of September. I was flying back East to help my sisters support our parents because our father was having major surgery. It had never occurred to me that what I was about to do was a ministry. I had always thought of ministry as volunteering for the parish, a cause, or even my work here on the blog.
Needless to say supporting our mother, who at 81 had an understandably hard time dealing with my father’s surgery and recovery, was more difficult than volunteering at a parish. I developed a greater appreciation for what my sisters, one of which was trying to keep a job and raise a teen, were doing on a regular basis. All in all being there was an experience that deeply changed me though I wasn’t aware of it at the time.
Too busy to continue my habit of actively reflecting on scripture, I was forced to immerse myself in each moment. Complete focus was required when listening to a nurse’s instructions or doing dishes exactly as my mother liked them done in order to keep her routine intact while her world was being rattled. Sometimes these details were annoying and I admit I lost my temper twice and whined frequently in my head.
Occasionally scripture passages about caring for your parents floated in and out of consciousness, as did the words of our liturgy director. It was only on the plane returning home that I realized how those floating thoughts connected with what I had been doing. Ministry is more than volunteerism. It is a means of internal change and growth as a Christian. What you do is not important. How you approach it is what counts.
Being changed or transformed is a passive experience that comes solely from God. We simply need to bring our whole selves into our ministries no matter what they are, banish distracting thoughts, and focus on what we are doing.
So regardless of what is the content of your ministry, may God bless you in it. Trust that God will transform you through your engagement even though you might not be aware until later.
Picture is from my bedroom window at my parents’ house, 2014