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A Life of Being Helpful

13September2011

“We have no reason for living on earth than to be of help to others.”            (Luther’s sermon on the First Epistle of Peter)

Some people are just naturally helpful.  They are hardwired to pitch in when they see a need. But how often do we see our vocational lives as being “helpful” to others?  Is it just a paycheck that is necessary to maintain a comfortable life or can we see our day to day occupations as something more?  Something that emerges out of the waters of baptism? Something that God is using to make a difference in the world?

Some of the biggest epiphany moments I have seen in believers is the realization that God has created them for some actual purpose and that by virtue of their baptism they have been given a Christian vocation in the world.  That vocation can be any number of things which are pleasing to God but no matter what occupation they are working at, when they come to a deeper understanding that they are serving God and their neighbor by doing what they do, it’s like a light bulb comes on and illuminates just behind their eyes.  An awareness emerges about using one’s life for the sake of the neighbor, that all jobs are important and valued by God, that earning a living (no matter if it involves getting dirty and grimy, sweaty and hot) is honorable because  we are providing for the family, taking care of the needs of one’s children, and performing a task that is necessary for the community.  This eye opening experience helps disciples to articulate to the world what God is up to in their lives and therefore share Jesus with others in their day to day existence.  

The council president at Trinity, Monroeville works for the water treatment department.  His job is incredibly important but often goes beyond recognition.  If he and his co-workers didn’t get up very early every morning, test the water supply, run the filtering systems, and so on there would not be clean water running through the taps of the folks who live in Monroeville.  He is serving God and his neighbor!

There are several seamstresses in the congregation who do important work for others as they alter wedding gowns, hem pants, shirts and jackets, replace zippers, and fix a multitude of issues with clothing and other textiles.  Does this seem unimportant?  All of these women have been married to their spouses for over 40 years.  They have raised healthy, productive children and cared for numerous grandchildren.  They have much to offer a new bride as she stands on a chair while her bridal gown in being fitted for her wedding day and for the marriage she is entering into.  These women serve their God and their neighbor as they help brides-to-be and others in need of special clothing for once in a lifetime events!

There is a florist in the parish who gets the privilege of being present at all the important, nodal events of family life:  birth, baptism, confirmation, home-coming, prom, graduation, wedding, anniversaries, birthdays, and funerals.  When people walk in the door of the flower shop she greets them and patiently walks them through the process of picking out whatever flowers are needed for the occasion.  If it is a joyous occasion she congratulates them, if it is a grievous occasion she comforts them with her presence, taking charge of the situation and helping the family to make important decisions with as much ease as possible. Not only that but she is an artist who creates beautiful things!  She is serving God and her neighbor. . .  she is incredibly helpful!

Not all jobs are glamorous.  Not all occupations are respected by the community.  But when we start to think about what each job offers to the neighbor and to society, things open up for believers to see that what they do is helpful and important and necessary.  What would we do without trash collectors, the dog warden, the guy that packs your groceries up for you at the end of the check out, street department workers, supply techs at the hospital. . . these jobs are so important and yet they don’t get the recognition that other jobs receive (which are equally important and deserve recognition as well!). Even if a person doesn’t get paid for their “job” (like volunteers and stay at home mothers) they are still doing important, valuable work for the sake of their children, neighbors, community of faith and beyond!

An awareness of how our baptism calls us into a life of discipleship, service and to be of help to others can transform the Christian life as we go deeper into Christ.  It can also help us to value one another and to see one another as God sees us: valuable, beloved, important, and useful for spreading the good news of Christ!

Blessings on your day!

ACL@CCD

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