“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7
Lucas and I came to St. John’s not because we knew people here, or because we’d heard about St. John’s itself, but because I went on the internet with a set of criteria for a church and I checked off denominations until we found several that we wanted to try. St. John’s happened to be the nearest Episcopal church and the first denomination we tried. We just never felt the need to try any of the others. I believe God led us to the home He chose for us.
We started attending pretty regularly almost immediately, and continued attending in this way for a couple of years. Despite regular attendance, and despite becoming friendly with a few members of the congregation, both of us existed more at the level of “I know the face, but I can’t put a name to it” when it came to probably 90% of the people we saw once a week. We submitted pledges at pledge time, we participated in several fundraisers – the accessibility project, Hope Totes, the Christmas Giving Tree – but our contributions to the church were strictly of the “treasure” variety.
This started to change in 2010 when I worked with Amy Simons and Rev. Darren Elin to bring the St. John’s Facebook page online. Although this work was very behind the scenes, I learned a lot more about St. John’s and its people through helping to keep the page updated. I learned about activities and groups that I wasn’t totally aware of before, and saw that there was a whole lot of community that happened outside of the regular church hours.
In 2011, Janet Cosenza approached me about joining Altar Guild. This was a ministry that I had become particularly interested in, but being the introvert that I am, I hadn’t made a move toward hooking up with a current member. Janet took that burden from me and asked me to come aboard, which I did. This was a turning point for me when it came to my relationship with St. John’s and the people at St. John’s. Although I had been attending for several years and although I had formed a few relationships with the people, St. John’s was really still just my church. It was only after getting involved in service opportunities that St. John’s became my home. I became familiar and friendly with a whole new set of people. I learned new things about the church and about being Episcopalian. I helped to care for the building, and through caring for the building, I cared for the people, and that lead to a deeper caring about the people. The same thing would happen again when I volunteered to be a greeter – new friends, new jobs, new knowledge, and a deeper level of commitment to my church home.
I believe that service truly roots us into a church family. It is very easy to simply skim the surface of what it means to be a parishioner of St. John’s. It is easy, when asked to give of your “time, talent, or treasure”, to put some (very much appreciated) money in an envelope. I did it for years. I am inviting you to experience a more full and rewarding relationship with St. John’s. If you have been waiting for the right time to find a place to add your voice, now is the time. If you have been waiting to be asked, I am asking you.
If you are already involved in a service opportunity, consider asking someone to join you. I suspect there are many people like me who are too unsure to speak up or who find it difficult to put themselves forward. It’s much easier to say “yes” when someone approaches you directly to ask “Will you help?” than to approach an already formed group and ask “Can I join?”
I would love to see participation in all service fields increase this year, not just because “many hands make light work”, but because I know how rewarding it is to invest yourself into the role of caretaker for the beautiful building and amazing group of people that we have been blessed with at St. John’s. I pray that you will accept my invitation to root yourself into this family of Christ, and allow yourself to be built up in your faith.