In the Book of Common Prayer, the Catechism answers the question, “What is ministry?” It defines ministry by orders: lay, deacon, priest, and bishop. For the laity, the Catechism says, “The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.” (BCP, 855) Sometimes, we get caught up and think ministry is only when we are serving the poor or leading worship. But, in fact, the Catechism reminds us that our ministry is to represent Christ and the Church, bearing witness to Jesus wherever we may be.
Several years ago, we welcomed a childcare center onto our property. The relationship was a beautiful one of getting to know one another, of building relationships with strangers, and bearing witness to Christ’s love. When the center moved to a neighboring town to accommodate more students, our Church knew we wanted to keep the relationship going. And so, we have sent cards, supported teachers, and once a month, we bring coffee and snacks for what we call “Joe to Go.”
For some, this may seem like an odd form of ministry. If we are going to use our resources and time, shouldn’t we be helping those hurting the most? Unfortunately, that question creates a false dichotomy. We should be helping those who are hurting most. And, as our Catechism says, we also should be bearing witness to Christ wherever we find ourselves. For this ministry, that means seeing the everyday burdens of families – the nights without sleep, the struggles to work to support the cost of childcare, the strain of raising up children to be well-adjusted, loving members of society. If we learned anything in the pandemic, it was that the struggles of parenting in today’s economy are real, and hard, and regularly unnoticed.
And so, we bear witness to Jesus’ love with every snack and cup of coffee. We represent Jesus when we offer an encouraging word to a weary parent. We are being the Church when we show lovingkindness wherever we may be. This is what ministry is. How are you bearing witness to Christ’s love today? How have you experienced Christ’s love today through someone else’s ministry? I can’t wait to hear your stories of coffees, shared stories, and encouraging words.