Service in a Worship Service?

In April, I visited friends and family in Abilene. I found out that our friends’ church is planning something called “You are the Sermon.”  Instead of having a regular worship service, they are doing service in the community.  And that got me to thinking…why can’t my church do something like this?  Why isn’t this what we do all the time?

First of all, I need to do a bit of language analysis.  Why do we even call what we do on Sunday mornings a worship service?  Who exactly is being served?  I sometimes feel like we are the consumers, taking in God in little cracker-sized pieces (no disrespect to the Lord’s Supper).  I know that I have frequently acted like someone in an audience, letting “worship” wash over me.  Many times I go to the church building so I can get something out of it, but I really think our idea of what we do at church should be different.

So, why don’t we do actual service to others during our worship service?  There are those who would say a Wednesday night or even a Sunday night is a more appropriate time for that kind of thing.  It is a good thing, to do service, but that’s just not what we do Sunday morning.  Sunday morning is for worship.  But can’t service be worship to God, maybe even the best kind of worship to God: obedience and loving others?  He desires obedience and practical love, not hymns (though I think praising God in song is a great, good thing).

We could start out small – not even venturing out from the building — at first.  Everyone could write a note to a kid at the Village of Hope.  It would take about 10 minutes of our worship service.  Maybe we could do something once a month, helping 12 organizations or 12 current projects of our church — during service, when all of us are gathered.  Just imagine how powerful it would be if we all committed to doing something for others, together, on the day we have set aside for worship.

It would be a big undertaking and I couldn’t do it alone, but I think we would all be blessed by service in our worship service or even instead of our worship service.

My church has recently begun the process of dreaming about what kind of church we want to be and what we want to do.  I’m encouraged that something along the lines of what I am mentioning here is also on the hearts of others in my church.

What do you think? Has anyone else ever done this in their church?

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CureSearch Walk Success

Thanks to all of you who helped me raise money for cancer research.  Team Neema raised $355!  Thanks for your support!

The walk itself was an interesting endeavor.  At first we all gathered in the parking lot adjacent to the Texas Motor Speedway (a place I had never been because I am interested in neither motors nor speed).  A magician and face painters were there to warm up the crowd (and we did need warming up — it was cold!).  Inexplicably, several Star Wars characters were also present, wandering around and taking pictures with children.  It is a little unnerving when it seems like Storm Troopers are patrolling the place.  Nevertheless, spirits were high and everyone was ready to walk in support of these kids with cancer.

Neema & I walking!

When all the speeches had been made and all the kids in treatment received medals, we started to walk.  I had the privilege of walking with Neema the ENTIRE time!  Even though she was cold, she didn’t complain at all and we had a good time trying to keep up with everyone else.  When we finished walking, we were greeted with warmer weather and pizza!

I’d never done a walk for anything before.  After this experience, I will definitely do so again.  Many people there lost children to cancer and many other families are struggling with the disease right now.  It was a time for everyone to band together and just be there.  We weren’t doing anything miraculous — we were just there, and I think that is what really matters.

Walking for Neema

So, I have this amazing friend and mother, Melissa.

About a year and a half ago, her now four-year-old daughter, Neema, was diagnosed with Leukemia.  I’m happy to report that she is in remission, and her last day of chemo (hopefully forever) will be in August.

Neema being her cute self

Melissa is a a brave mother who takes this heart-break in stride.  Not being a mother, I can’t really imagine how I would cope with the doctor appointments, my daughter suffering from the poison used to kill the cancer in her body, the extra medical bills — and the fear of her not becoming well.  I don’t think I would handle this situation all that well.  I’d probably cry and whine at my lot in life, but Melissa doesn’t do this.

She, instead, is always smiling, always seemingly trusting in God.  Like I said, she’s an amazing woman.

So, because of this amazing woman, I’m walking with her in support of her daughter Neema at the CureSearch Walk next Saturday, May 14th at the Texas Motor Speedway.  No, we won’t be driving, but walking on the actual track!

If you know a kid with cancer, if you are a mom whose ever had a sick child, or if you just want to support me in this walk, please consider donating just a few dollars to cancer research.  I’ve set my goal pretty low ($200), but I would love to go over it.  I’m amazed at how far cancer treatment has come and how much further it can go with more research.

Click here to donate to the cause (it’s my personal webpage through the CureSearch Walk site).

In honor of Mother’s Day tomorrow, support an awesome mom by supporting us in this walk (we are Team Neema).  Melissa’s husband Reggie, her daughters Neema and Aaniyah, and my husband Ted will be cheering us on in the sidelines.  If you want to donate, do it soon because the walk is a week from today.  Ooh, that also means I need to get myself in shape pretty quick.

Thanks!

Say You’re One of Them

Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan is a book of short stories all narrated by or about children in various African countries.  Akpan is a Jesuit priest and an amazing writer.  He has a great ear and a great eye, a way of describing this world that completely fits the context, but also makes it relatable to Westerners.  But I wouldn’t recommend you read this book unless you want your worldview or your heart to change.  Because it will.  And then you will feel like you need to do something about it.

This is Victoria who was my special friend while I was at VOH

This book is a hard read, and I’m a fairly hardened reader.  The language can sometimes be difficult because Akpan writes in dialect, but that is not what I mean by hard.  It is hard to see children being mistreated or learning the ways of this world sooner than they should, but I think that is Akpan’s point in writing this book.  African children endure and survive what most Americans adults could not.  He wants us to know about these children’s lives and to do something about it.

Most of these short stories end with despair, a look at a world turned upside down by violence and hatred.  The point is not to see the state of African nations and exclaim, “How sad!”  Akpan wants us to all stand up together and say, “No! The world should not be like this!”  I think Akpan is inviting us to rewrite these endings, bringing redemption and justice to children in Africa.

Ted and Francis, best buds

I’ve been blessed to meet some of these children who have been redeemed, taken away from slavery or difficult family situations.  Look into sponsoring a child at the Village of Hope in Ghana, West Africa.  Is $100 a month, less than some people’s internet bills or phone plans, too much to ask to feed, clothe, and educate a wonderful, beautiful child?  I’ve actually been to the Village of Hope, met the teachers, the house parents, the kids.  This is truly a great place with some of the most amazing, faithful people I’ve ever met.  It sounds cliché, but it’s really true.

This is our cutie, Elizabeth

Go out and read Say You’re One of Them today.  Be inspired to help a child halfway across the world.