When I first came to my church I was told that I wouldn't have to preach on 5th Sundays when they popped up as the Youth always did the worship service that week. Unfortunately, by the end of my second year all the Youth had graduated from high school and gone off to college. We tried hymn sings for a while, and then the Elders came up with a Fantastic Idea! "Let's celebrate the ones who hide their lights under a basket!"
So that's what we have been doing for the last year. At the time when the sermon would normally happen members of the congregation take the microphone and speak about the person being celebrated, then present the honoree with a small gift in appreciation of her/his ministry. And we always sing "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!"
First we celebrated the woman who writes all the cards. She started out just sending birthday, anniversary and get well cards. Then she expanded her writing to include notes for any reason she could think of - we missed you on Sunday, you did a great job singing the solo, how nice it is to have you in the congregation, loved your sermon (my personal favorites!), we sure appreciate all your help with the food ministry, and on and on. At last count she had mailed some 800 cards and notes in just over 2 years! She doesn't think of her work as a ministry, or even important, but everyone who rose to celebrate her shared that her notes had brightened many an otherwise not so bright day!
Then we celebrated the ladies who are responsible for hospitality, making sure the pantry is stocked with plates, cups, etc, and rounding up everything needed for pot lucks, funeral repasts, and other celebratory meals. They decorate the hall, make sure everyone knows what to bring and where to bring it, invite people who only show up for special occasions, even put together the Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for the poor of our neighborhood. I hate to think what life would be like without them!
This month - well, I shouldn't say. You never know who might be reading this and it is a surprise, after all. Suffice it to say that we are celebrating some of the men of the congregation who do the kinds of things that people just take for granted. Of course there will be new light bulbs, and a working sound system, and freshly painted bookshelves in the preschool . . . no one really seems to notice except when these things don't happen. So, Sunday we will notice and give them thanks for all the little, "invisible" ways they serve the congregation.
I love these celebrations! It gives me one more opportunity to remind the congregation that we are all ministers of the Gospel, each in our own way, using our individual gifts and talents for God's glory and honor.