But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.
1 Samuel 12:24
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ”
There are many verses in the Bible about serving the Lord. Through service to others, we are doing God’s will, and it is through these acts of service that we can fully experience God’s presence. In the late ‘70’s, when I started attending St. Thomas, there was a banner in the sanctuary that read “Non-Christians don’t read the Bible, they read other Christians.” By serving others, our actions are a witness of our faith that can be seen by non-believers. St. Thomas is known in our community for our service, as we are a missional church. Through this service we offer love, hope and encouragement to others. We should pray every day for the people we serve, and we should always demonstrate joy when helping others. Our service is a testament to our love of God.
Sixteen years ago, St. Thomas opened the doors of our Food Pantry. Before that time, most of my service to the church had been with the children’s programs. Serving with the Food Pantry was something very different for me, but it was soon evident that it was a ministry that was very much needed in our community. Once I retired from my job with the PWC schools, I was at the Pantry most weekdays and helped run the Saturday distribution. Now that I was “unemployed”, the Pantry allowed me to still serve others. I enjoyed talking to people, listening to their concerns, praying with them when asked, and just “being there”. I felt I was answering God’s calling and that all the Food Pantry volunteers were acting as the “hands and feet” of Christ.
A year after I retired, my husband, while on a trip to the Bahamas with the Boy Scouts, died very suddenly. My children and I were devastated. Now I was the one needing help. The people in this church surrounded me with love and got me through those first terrible weeks. I returned to the Food Pantry, eventually spending some time there most days of the week. But now it was not me serving others, it was others “serving” me. I not only had somewhere to go where I could temporarily get my mind off my loss, but I also felt wrapped in the arms of Jesus through the caring of my fellow volunteers and the people who came to the Pantry. Now when I think back to that time, I realize that God’s grace got me through that loss by putting in my path others who were once again acting as His “hands and feet” through their service to me. I learned to never underestimate the power of love demonstrated by caring for and about others.
Help us never to forget that every act of kindness and service that we do for others not only demonstrates love for you but also enriches the lives of everyone involved, including the ones serving. In Christ’s precious name, Amen
About Janie Russell
Janie currently serves as chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, as well as secretary for the Finance Committee. She has been at St. Thomas for over 40 years. Helping start the Food Pantry has been especially rewarding to her.