From Your Community Outreach Associate
I have the word “service” on my brain. Our well-loved sign, which as I write is advertising the garage sale, previously read “9:30 AM SUMMER SERVICE.” I just finished a week of service with Justice, Minna, Sarah and Caleb as part of a summer program called “Lutheran Youth Serve Omaha.” And in about seven weeks, my year of service with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps will be over.
I'm going to go out of order and talk about “Lutheran Youth Serve Omaha” first, because it was so much fun, and I am proud of our youth for their good work and positive attitudes. Whether it was Caleb having a ton of fun digging up rocks in Kountze Memorial Lutheran's community garden with new friends from Kountze and St. Matthew, Sarah's good people skills shown through her conversations with senior citizen residents at deFreese Manor and care for babies at Precious Memories daycare, Minna carefully bagging diapers for young moms at the building where Youth Emergency Services' street outreach program is hosted, or Justice, the one-handed shoveling queen, filling sandbags even though her right arm was in a cast – we can all be extremely proud and pleased with their enthusiasm for service and representation of St. Luke's in the community and with our partner churches.
Check out the banner next to Pastor Patti's office that the kids filled out with their reflections on service each day. (All 30 kids answered three questions on three banners, one of which was sent to each church - “What did you do today?” “How did it make you feel?” and “How will your service affect the lives of others?”) Also, ask our participants about their experience when you see them around church this summer. I am pretty sure they will tell you that they made new friends, learned some things they didn't know about ways to serve, worked pretty hard, and had a good, fun week.
So, what about that first usage of the word “service” that I mentioned? 9:30 AM SUMMER SERVICE means get to church sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 for coffee, donuts and fellowship, then go to worship, sing, hear the Bible and a sermon, pray, say some stuff, sometimes get communion, sing again, then go home. Right?
Hmmm. I love coffee, donuts, and especially fellowship time, and worship does do a body good. (Just ask Pastor Patti.) But there's something more there, I think. At Synod Assembly in Fremont, keynote speaker David Lose said that church has the potential to be like an airport. We can come to church ready to go somewhere, ready to connect to something. Where we will go? Out in our communities to serve, in whatever way we can, to show God's love to everyone. A Sunday service can help us make that connection...to travel to wonderful, exciting new places...no matter where we are on our faith and life journeys.
So, turns out “service” is not just a regular occurrence in a church building, or even one special week out of the summer, but a really exciting, life-giving word. I bet Dick Webb didn't know that, when he suggested I put “Summer Service” on the sign since we didn't have enough W's to write “Summer Worship”, he was helping me write my newsletter article.
Anyway, as for that year of service coming to an end thing – I think I'm out of space for this month, so I'll wait until August to tell you about that.