Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

Celebrating Our Passions

Lois was a delightful 80-something member of the congregation. Although she was beginning to repeat herself a lot, she still had a firm grip on reality. Her golden years had become tarnished with hardship. Her husband of 60 years had passed away, and her son, who was her only devoted caretaker, had died unexpectedly of a heart attack. We were reminiscing in her living room, and she was sharing with me how she had been an active participant in the ministry of the church.

Her passion had been making pies. Each year, when the annual chicken-whatever dinner rolled around, Lois had made dozens of pies. Her specialties were my favorite: hot and cold! Her pies were the focal point of the meal, and everyone went to the dessert table first, to select a piece, before going through the cafeteria-style food line to get the main course. She was also a willing contributor to each and every funeral dinner. The morning of each dinner found Lois waiting for the fellowship hall doors to be unlocked so that she could bring in her freshly baked pies.

As Lois proudly shared how everyone made over her pies, I could see tears of sadness well-up in her eyes. The “Church Lady,” who held the deed to the kitchen, over-organized the process of planning a funeral dinner. This woman decided that, instead of relying on the impulsion of the congregation, which has filled out potluck tables over the decades, she would dictate how much of each kind of meal component should be brought to the dinner and by whom. Thus, there were times when barbeque sandwiches were complemented by only four or five salads centered neatly down the middle of two eight-foot long tables. While barbeque sandwiches are easy to make, they aren’t necessary the best fair for eating in your Sunday best. More than once I was embarrassed by the fact that the salad bowls had gone empty before everyone could be served. But what hurt Lois the most was the fact that pies were no longer welcome. The Church Lady decided that cakes would serve more people with less effort.

Lois perceived that her passion for ministry was rejected by the entire congregation since no one was willing to take on the Church Lady. I could tell that Lois was deeply hurt by this edict.

Not everyone sees ministry in the same way. Not everyone has the same passion. Each of us has a unique gift to use to build the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians addresses this issue with the infant church, concluding at one point that If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26) As I sat with Lois I felt her pain. I was embarrassed by what another member of the church had done. I couldn’t understand why Lois’ passion for ministry was not celebrated at every meal with the contribution of a couple pies.

Not everyone shares the same passion for ministry. However, if someone has an appropriate passion (focused on the right things) then why can’t we support one another’s efforts. It certainly does not diminish our own gifts or efforts if we support another person’s passion. Instead, if each of us contributes in our own way, we will reach a wider audience and bring more people with the love of Christ.

Let’s help each other identify our gifts for ministry and then celebrate our passions by putting them to use to build the kingdom of God.

Humbly yours in Christ,

 Holy Land Trip

Departing March 6 from St. Louis, the ten-day trip is only five months away. You can still go and avoid late fees if you are registered by November 21, 2017. Twelve people have signed up, and there is plenty of room for more. Touring the Holy Land will forever change your perception of the Bible and make a positive impact in your faith. Contact Pastor Terry for more information. Brochures are available on the welcome center or in the office.

9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684