10.27.2009

"Church service" of a different sort

When I think "church service," I think of the hour on Sunday morning where a bunch of people dress up and gather together to sing, pray, and listen to a sermon before going out to eat for lunch. Church service.

Really, though, what service is being done? Who is being served?

Last weekend, at my church, there were no services, as we think of them, anyway. No sermon, no congregating in a sanctuary, no dressing up.

But service? There was plenty of that.

This weekend was the second annual Weekend of Service, when the church closes its doors and, instead of sitting and singing and doing the typical church-service thing, thousands of church members went out and did service. You know, actually served.

What did they do?

Ran a half-marathon to raise money to battle AIDS

Put together meals for hungry families

Beautified a downtown school's garden

Collected food in local neighborhoods

Sorted clothes to be given to needy families

Painted. Built. Sorted. Organized. Fed. Clothed. Healed. Helped.

What did I do?

Last year, we went with an organization called Rebuilding the Wall and helped demolish parts of a house so it could be rebuilt for a needy family. I discovered that, although Josh does love swinging a sledgehammer, demolition isn't one of my spiritual gifts. This year I wanted to work on something I felt I could use what I'm good at a little more.

We ended up at Third Phase- a women's shelter, food pantry and thrift store. It's the biggest food pantry in our county, and the only emergency shelter. There were lots of volunteers there on Saturday- some to do yardwork, some to sort donations, some to organize the food pantry, some to revamp the thrift store- all sorts of things. We were there to do a very specific task- test electronics that had been donated to the thrift store, to see if they worked and if they could be sold. There were 4 of us testing electronics, and a couple others cleaning the dust and grime off of them. Third Phase has an entire basement room stacked floor-to-ceiling with these donations, so I felt what we were doing was definitely helping out. I chose to start testing microwaves and household electronics, knowing that if I was short on money, these were things that would be necessities. Josh worked on testing computers, mice, keyboards, and TVs.

All through the day, I was being reminded, Do not despise the small things. What we were doing was small, but it mattered. Because we tested, cleaned, and priced the microwaves, a mom working two jobs can still get dinner cooked for her family. Because the computers were evaluated, a father out of work will be able to get his resume put together and printed. A heater I found that DIDN'T work won't be sold and set someone's house on fire. Little things, but they matter. I tend to focus on the big, systemic issues like global poverty, affordable health insurance, clean drinking water... and I forget that the little things that are easier to accomplish do make a difference.

Best news of the week so far? All those small things added up. Everyone who participated in the Weekend of Service brought food for the food pantry, and many projects went to nearby neighborhoods to collect food. All in all, 257,000 pounds of food were collected by the projects for Indianapolis-area food pantries. The hungry will be fed, because lots of people gave a little.
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Part of the crowd, before we left for all the projects:


Gathering at Third Phase:


Newly-organized thrift store:


All my Weekend of Service pictures:

Weekend of Service 09

2 pennies for thoughts:

Stuff Parents Need said...

This is a fantastic concept, to go out and serve...to walk the walk! Thanks for sharing.



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