Step Up: Service

Step Up: Service

The October tradition at Pacific Beach UMC is to explore our Stewardship commitments. Stewardship is the way we think of our faithful support of the ministries that take place as a part of this vibrant congregation. In the United Methodist tradition, we see this as: prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

When it comes to service, this congregation does remarkable work in the face of many challenges. Our Wednesday evening Project Grace feeds thousands of people throughout the year while offering access to medical care and a number of additional resources. Our participation in Interfaith Shelter Network has a long history, in addition to our participation in several other service programs. Even more opportunities for serving our communities are being considered for the coming year.

While I generally consider this kind of outward-focused service primary, this is surely not the only way we live out this stewardship commitment. Some ways we engage in service to worship participants include members of our various committees, our worship musicians, ushers and greeters, those who provide snacks and refreshments, and many more.

Matthew 14:13-21
13When Jesus heard about John, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds learned this, they followed him on foot from the cities. 14When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick. 15That evening his disciples came and said to him, “This is an isolated place and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

16But Jesus said to them, “There’s no need to send them away. You give them something to eat.”

17They replied, “We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.”

18He said, “Bring them here to me.” 19He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to his disciples. Then the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. 21About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten.

Consider these questions:

  1. In what ways have you been served by this – or any other – faith community? (Note: not by a Pastor or staff person, but by a lay member of that community.) What did this experience mean for you? How did it affect you emotionally and spiritually?
  2. In what ways have you served someone else as a member of this – or any other – faith community? What did this experience mean for you? How did it affect you emotionally and spiritually?

Post-Sermon follow up on 10/24

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found by clicking this link (will open in a new tab).

I confess that I have experienced some up-and-down emotions about our most prominent community service ministry as we have faced some public criticism.

Most recently and directly has been the petition that was circulated. Before that was the complained filed with the county health department that seems to have been prompted by similar motives as the petition. And we may recall back in 2007 the challenge presented when the City of San Diego threatened to fine and cite this church.

All this brings to mind the possibility that we have an opportunity to communicate with all our neighbors – both sheltered and unsheltered – that we are committed to being a safe and Spirit-filled place for all. In our exploration on Sunday, we tried to consider the ways our outward-focused service might reach our communities. In addition, we looked at the many ways we could serve within our faith community so that we might grow more deeply in relationship with God and with this community.

Consider these questions:

  1. Does the idea of both inward and outward service make sense to you? Do you participate in both? Why or why not?
  2. What would it take for you to “step up” your service, either inwardly or outwardly? What logistical changes would this require? What spiritual changes might take place?
  3. What avenues of service have not been explored, either in this conversation or in Sunday’s message?

One Comment

    Steve Frank

    My moment to remember came in on a cold Sunday morning in the basement of New Life United Methodist Church. The church had an unusual spot. Boardered by The Ohio State University on the north, the affluent Victorian Village on the west, and the hip Short North on the south, New Life served as a refuge for the poor bin Columbus. So out of character for the neighborhoods nearby.

    That morning about 125 to 150 souls, most of them homeless, crowded into the small space to get a seat, have breakfast and, of course to escape the chill that waited outside. Those not so lucky​ lined the walls as they waited for a seat to open. I was there to drive my church’s van and help serve food.

    At some point I became aware of just how warm the room was, and how the air became overcome by the aroma of men and women, in a space too small, wearing clothes they had worn too long. It stank. This hardly seems like a moment you would remember fondly, but for me it was perfect. I was almost driven to tears as I thought of humanity in the raw. I thought of my favorite take on WWJD. Mine was WWJB, where would Jesus be. Never have I felt closer to God than on that Sunday morning and in that crowded space. The power of that moment has not faded.

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