Pastoral Reflections Rev. Barb Muhs, Pastor, Salem Church of Lincoln Lincoln, Iowa
January 25, 2013
Henri Nouwen is an author who writes in simple ways with deep understanding and meaning beneath teh simplicity of his words. Ministering in a home in Canada for people who are mentally handicapped. Nouwen writes of his experiences among people who teach him in a new way how to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ in and of the world. Nouwen writes of one resident by the name of Bill. Bill often is a good friend and over the years Nouwen has invited Bill to travel with him as he speaks to groups of people around the world. Bill has the ability to “read” the group and share his thoughts on a unique level with Nouwen as they minister to others. Ministry is something that Bill would never consider and yet, in many ways Bill’s commitment and words are a way of profound ministry. Isn’t that so like God? To look for the least of these and provide gifts of greater ministry than thought? Recently I have been reading and rereading books that I have recieved throughout my ministry. I have been asked to rethink what ministry has provided and how does one look at God’s people in the world in which we live? Through prayer and reading the answer(s) were finally revealed, you guessed it in scripture. I Corinthians has reminded me that all people of God are given gifts and it is through those gifts that we reveal God in our world. So what gifts do you have ? What gifts do you share and what gifts do you hide from others? One year I asked for people that liked to sew to make school bags for Church World Services. Much to my surprise there was a woman in the congregation who came and got directions from me. Two weeks later she arrived back with neat, maticulous bags that weren’t only sewn with precision, she had appliqued or stitched designs on each one. Her comment was, each child should have their own unique bag and I enjoy the designing as much as I do the sewing. In many new ways her talent and “gift” became useful in new ways. An older gentleman decided that when the new minister arrived in town he would go in each Monday morning with fresh baked goods, say good morning and be on his way. Word got out, baked goods disappeared but church fellowship increased. Jack is long gone but his “doughnut ministry” continues on. By reading scripture, I have come to understand that ministry occurs between people in different, unique ways as we discover our gifts that God has given us. What amazes me is how many different gifts are among so many people and as we work together for the common good of ALL people how blesses we all are when you share YOU! So as Paul wrote:”To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”...”All these are activated by the one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” Look for your gifts, try to find s way to use them for the common good and remember there is no gift too small or too large that God will not use to make this world, a better place for all. Bill and Henri took a challange and God has used their story for years. Imagine how God can and will use YOUR story for years to come.
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