Years ago, my parents befriended a young couple from their church named and Mark and Ann. My Dad and Mom were empty-nesters then and they were happy to have this young couple as surrogate children. My brothers and I were spread across the country at that time. When Ann gave birth to their child, a son named Thomas, my parents quickly adopted him as their own since Mark and Ann’s parents lived on the other side of the country.
My Mom loved to have Thomas over for visits. She also loved making meals for this family. Thomas was raised to give thanks before eating his meals. Soon after he learned how to talk, the boy took over the responsibility for saying grace. He would fold his chubby hands, bow his head and squeeze his eyes tight. He mumbled a prayer that included thanks for his parents, my parents and the food. With great clarity and force, Thomas ended his prayer with a firm, “Amen!” and then he always said with equal force, “Play ball!”
I like the coda to the grace Thomas offered and as you prepare for service this week as the Church Leaves the Building. I say first pray and then go serve, or as Thomas said, play ball.
Whatever work we do should begin with prayer. Go ahead; and pray to your heavenly Father before you start your work day, school day, or at home day. This is especially the case when we are on our way to serve God by serving others. As you prepare to serve this weekend, here are few things to pray for before rolling up your sleeves:
Pray for each other: You’re going to be working with other members and friends from Thompson Church. Pray for your partners and ask God bless your conversations as well as your work. You’ll have some time to go a little deeper in your friendship or start a new one. What a payoff!
Pray for those you are helping: I always hope that the ones we serve will know the God we serve. We’re trying to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ with others by making meals, working at a local mission or picking up trash along River Road. As such we’re pointing to the Lord Jesus with one hand as we serve with the other.
Pray that God gets the glory: Jesus gives us these directions for service, “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5: 16) When the Church Leaves the Building the goal is that God gets praised not us or our church. Too often, the ways Christians act or speak cause people to curse rather than bless God. Our country needs the followers of Jesus to be a reason for the praise of God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace. So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge of and love of you, for the honor of your name. Amen.