Why do you work so hard for the church? Many faithful people provide countless hours of service that helps feed the poor, welcomes the stranger, advocates against unjust systems, equips the saints, facilitates beautiful worship, provides oversight and cares for the property. From flower arranging, table set-up to overseeing a youth hostel, it is all ministry and it involves diligent hard work.
Here are a few typical responses of why people do this:
- I like joining in with others and doing things together.
- I want to do some good in the world.
- I want to be a good person.
- I believe in the church’s goals and want to see them furthered.
- I admire our bishop, rector and lay leaders and want to support their efforts.
- I am inspired by Jesus who modelled how to serve.
- I have experienced God’s love in my life and want to share it.
Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of his public ministry. At his baptism he heard a voice from heaven saying he was God’s beloved child. Do we feel that same kind of affirmation about your service, work and ministry?
Beginning of the meeting
Read the reflection above and then read the passage of scripture below. Ask the people to pay attention to what images and impressions come to mind as they read or hear these passages?
Matthew 3:13-17 New Revised Standard Version
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ 15 But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’
Reflect on these questions for a few moments in silence, then turn to another person and discuss.
- Why do you work for the church? Do any of the typical responses above fit with your response?
- Does your ministry come from a place of love or duty? What is the difference? How are discipline, self-sacrifice and responsibility part of both love and duty?
- Do you feel like you are beloved of God and that God is well pleased with you and your ministry? Explain. Can you describe God’s love?
After a few minutes bring the small group discussion to a close and invite people to talk about their insights and reflections in the larger group.
Ignatius Imaginative Prayer
Invite people to participate in a guided Ignatius Imaginative Prayer by closing their eyes and taking a posture of prayer, relaxing their body and attending to their breathing and then becoming more aware of God’s presence.
Recall a time you have been actively engaged in church work. It could involve anything from calling a sick neighbour to organizing a meal. Big or little, routine or extraordinary, with or without significant responsibility, it does not matter. Remember yourself doing the activity of the ministry. Allow for a few moments of silence. Recall where this ministry took place? Are there others around you or are you alone? Do you feel tired, exhilaration, saddened, joyful…? Now, in the midst of this recalled memory, imagine God speaking into your heart saying, “You are my beloved child and I am well pleased with you.”
Invite people to write down their reaction or response to this message.
Then invite them to turn to another person and say, “You are God’s beloved child and God is well pleased with you.” (If you are alone, say aloud, “I am God’s child and God is well pleased with me.”)