Love Lives, Week 5
Let’s talk about love. Why not? For this is week five of our homily-message we call “Love Lives.” If you missed any of the last five weeks, our you would like to review them, you can find them all on our website, saintmary.life
All those receiving first communion here today will experience God’s love in a new and exciting way. Jesus gives us this holy communion, communion with him, intimacy with him, so that when we receive holy communion, we can become more like him, so that we can learn to love and serve like him. The only reason we receive holy communion, his body and blood, is to learn to love as Jesus loves, and become more like him in love and service.
So let’s talk more about love, love as expressed in action and service. The purpose of this message is twofold.
First, it is to make the argument that love must be put into action. If you are going to grow in love, it requires service on other people’s behalf.
Second, one of your best opportunities for serving and putting love in action is right here in your parish. We are challenging you to not just come to church, we want you to be the church! We want you to be the body of Christ in action.
As a parish our goal is… every member is a minister, and if this is where you typically go to church, you are a member.
A minister is a type of a volunteer because they freely give up some of their time to serve without pay, on behalf of some good cause.
However, we use the word minister because it is a biblical word. In the Old Testament those who serve in the Temple, in the New Testament those who serve in the Church, are called ministers, and their service is called ministry. Interestingly, in the bible, the service of the angels in heaven is also called ministry.
Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians that God has given you gifts for the work of ministry, to equip you for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. According to the Bible, my job is not the ministry of the parish, but rather, equipping you for the work of ministry.
Saint Paul says it is my job to help every member think of themselves as a minister. If this is your church, this is where you worship and grow; serving is a form of worship and essential for spiritual growth. We are saying to you: Don’t just go to church. Be the church.
In the second reading we hear Saint John say: Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
John says that it is through service of others that we know we belong to the truth that is God. When we serve, it reinforces our status as sons and daughters of God. Does service make us sons and daughters of God? No. Do we perform acts of service to earn God’s favor? No. God already loves you, and there is nothing you can do to get God to love you anymore or any less. So. . . why serve?
John says that while God loves you, service makes you more aware of God‘s love for you. It is a way in which you can actually experience, and grow in awareness of God’s love for you.
For example, as a hospitality minister, you have the opportunity to serve by helping to create an irresistible church environment for others, an environment of God’s welcoming love. You may love brightening someone’s day with simple hospitality, that reflects God’s love.
When you do that, you may feel God’s hand guiding you to a stronger faith as you help others experience God’s welcoming love through you.
Every one of the people described in the Scriptures as having a close relationship with God, worked for him. They weren’t all perfect people, or mystics and prophets: some of them weren’t even very good at prayer. However, all the heroes of the Bible had one thing in common. They were willing to work for the Lord. It was through their service that they grew in intimacy with God, communion with God.
Did you ever notice that when you work alongside someone for the same purpose, your connection, your communion with them, grows? This is what happens with us and God.
There is another benefit of service. Service in ministry helps us become who, in our heart of hearts, we truly want to be and who Christ wants us to be.
We serve because in our heart of hearts we want to be loving people. We want to be people who add value to the lives of others.
At funerals, there are only two kinds of eulogies. One kind of eulogy talks about a person’s interest and activities: how they loved golf or football or what a great career they had. With all due respect, those eulogies always leave me disappointed.
On the other hand, at some funerals, a relative or friend will offer a eulogy which speaks eloquently of that person’s ministry as a beautiful extension of the kind of person they were, in all of their relationships, all the time.
Think about it. At the end of the day, do you want it to be about what you had, and what you got. Or do you want it to be about what you gave?
In today’s Gospel Jesus says I am the true vine. And he compares us to the branches on that vine, branches that must bear fruit. Fruit is the service he’s looking for from you. He is telling you. Don’t just go to church; be the church.
So you are invited! Yes you are invited to be a minister.
Hold up invitation cards: These cards, in your pews, are invitations to minister. When you turn in a card, it does not mean you are for sure committing to the ministry. It simply means you would like someone to contact you about being a minister in the area you check off on the card.
Specifically we are looking for ministers in eight different areas today. One ministry is to coach for three conversations. A coach helps facilitate the three conversations. Two ministries are for hospitality. You can actually extend God’s love to others by being a hospitality minister. Five areas on the card are for Youth and Children’s ministries.
Yes, we are starting up youth ministry again this September and you can meet our new youth ministers in the entryway of the church after Mass.
In all these ministries, we are not asking for a huge time commitment. In many roles, we’re looking for one or two hours, once or twice a month. Our schedulers and ministry leaders work hard to accommodate people’s busy and complicated schedules.
If you want more information before completing a card just stop by our information station in the entryway to the church, after Mass.
Ministry, as it is undertaken here, really is a joy. The ministers who serve here are not serving out of obligation or guilt. They are doing it out of love, and sometimes they find it fun because helping people out of love can be joy-filled! Yes?
We are asking you to be a minister as a member of this church. It is our member-ministers that make the biggest difference in the life of our church. Because they’re making a difference in the lives of others. I want you to have that great experience of making a difference in the lives of others.
So before you leave today, fill out the card, and then drop it off in a basket by the exits on your way out of Mass.
Don’t just go to church. Be the church. Don’t just call yourself the body of Christ. Be the body of Christ. Love and serve like him. Come on. Minister. Sign up. Don’t just go to church. Be the church.