Scripture, Service, and Celebration

From a summer ministry to my daily life as a pastor, I began to see a pattern. As I began my doctoral work, I came to recognize my life’s work is shaped by a simple rhythm of scripture, service, and celebration. Helping people engage in ministry in the city and around the world gives me the opportunity to see faith at work. More than serving with others, though, I witness people learning to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. I also witness two essentials of Methodism, personal piety and social holiness, come together and come to life.

During the summer the pathway of scripture, service and celebration guides our life together. Below is a glimpse into how we walk this pathway together.

The day begins with scripture. While Bible Study is a place to shape engagement in the city, it is more than a cerebral exercise. The foundation for the day is set during Bible Study. The scripture passage for the day leads us to a question, or invitation, to be carried throughout the day.

The question, or invitation, emerging from scripture sends us to serve with others, guiding our day. We live with the question, work with it, turn it around, and reflect on it. The question becomes a guiding theme for the day as we serve with reckless abandon.

One day we may focus on “receiving the kingdom as a child.” The invitation is played out in the vibrant colors of a new box of crayons, the fun of playground toys, and the messy, yet refreshing, splash of water balloons on a hot summer day. Each of these elements remind us while serving with children that we, too, are children of God.

Another day, we explore “growing in the kingdom of God” and immerse ourselves in the concept of planting seeds. As we serve, we reflect on the time and natural resources seeds need to grow into a vegetable garden even as we find seeds being planted and harvested within us.

Every evening, after a full day of serving in the city, we enter a time of celebration. Music and prayer center our time together as the scripture from the day is read again. Once again, we enter a time of reflection on the question or invitation for the day. There is teaching, but the real teaching comes from the participants as they share where and/or how they encounter Jesus while serving in the city. Over and over again, they give voice to moments where they encountered the presence of God. Over and over again, I wonder why this ministry is contained to seven weeks during the summer?

Discipleship, after all, is not something only for summer. Discipleship is a daily walk with Jesus. The daily walk has elements that are routine; however, it also has elements that shake us from complacency, inviting us to draw closer to Christ. Seeking to become more like Jesus is more adventure than it is routine. We are surprised by Christ’s power, startled by the wonder of God with us, and encouraged to find a way to shape the places we live to reflect a little more of Christ’s glory.