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Last week we had communion at my church and I didn’t get to be a server. I’m not sure why not, although I’m pretty sure it was nothing personal. It’s highly unlikely that the person who makes the list up looked at my name and thought “We don’t like her anymore. Ha ha ha.”
Whatever the reason, I didn’t make the servers’ list for that week.
When I got the email news that I had been cut, I was shocked. After all, I’m the Saturday- night-grape-juice/bread-over-on-the-left-side-of-the-sanctuary- girl.
Harry Austin, who sits in the pew behind me, is one of my best regular customers. I’m not sure I like the idea of someone else telling him, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you” and “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.”
But, as the e-mail explained they (whoever they are) wanted to shake things up a bit. Just because this is the way we always do things doesn’t mean that’s the way we’ll always do things.
Churches sometimes get stuck that way.
The email writer then asked if I’d be willing to be an usher instead.
It was the word “willing” that tripped me up.
Would I be willing? Am I not willing not to do something I love doing, something that has become my passionate avenue of service?
I don’t do nursery, I don’t fold bulletins. Frankly, I don’t do a whole lot at the church other than take up pew space.
To be honest, I’m not all that willing. (There’s that word again.)
And I hate that about myself.
So, now I’m feeling guilty. I mean, after all Jesus has done for me, I’m wrestling with being willing/unwilling to do what? Be an usher at church? Take 10 minutes to walk up and down a church aisle?
That should be a no-brainier. Jesus died for me – point me to the aisle you want me to usherize.
Except something in me – it has to be sin; what else could it be? - shouted “No, I don’t want to be an usher. I want to be the grape juice girl and serve communion to Harry Austin and say “This is the body/blood of Christ broken/shed for you.”
I swear, sometimes I’m 7, not 57.
Yes, I realize how trivial this sounds but it speaks to deeper issues. One: who am I serving with my service? I’m in church doing a churchy thing, so it looks like I’m serving God. But I know full well that my service as a communion server gives me great delight and serving God should bring delight. There’s nothing wrong with that.
However, there’s an awful lot of “me” and “my” in my service. I like it. I want it. I will be sad if you take it away from me.
Another issue: balking at my willingness to do something else. A true servant doesn’t pick and choose her task for her master. A true servant does what she’s asked or told to do.
Is that what it means to be a Christian? Are we to do whatever the church asks, whether we like it or not?
What about guilt? Is that a good enough reason to be an usher for a day? Guilt is an excellent motivator but can it sustain me?
After all Jesus has done for me, I should just suck it up, quit whining like a little girl and be an usher. Put on my Mary Sunshine/Victory in Jesus face and “fake it ‘til I make it.”
Except God will see right through that and my service will stink like rotten fish.
As it turned out, I couldn’t make it to church Saturday night, so I wouldn’t have been able to be a communion server or an usher after all.
But that doesn’t put to rest the deeper issue of willingness and guilt and service that pleases God.
The truth is I’ll never love God the way I should and my service will always be tainted with self.
Sometimes I think the best I can offer is the willingness to be willing.
Maybe even willing to be willing to willing.
It’s not admirable but it’s a start.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria – I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.