St. John’s has just come off a series of big events. Ash Wednesday arrived earlier than usual this year and brought with it the Lenten season full of guest speakers, luncheons and dinners, and special classes. We hosted Diocesan Convention the first week of Lent as hundreds of delegates and guests filled our facility. Holy Week is like the final 6 miles of a marathon with daily services. Maundy Thursday is gripping. Good Friday is grim but so honest and forthright as to be uplifting. Easter Eve and the Great Vigil is huge drama and the first peek at the resurrection. And Easter morning is sheer excitement. Mix in several very large funerals and a lot has been going on.
What strikes me after such a series of big events is how everyone involved has such an important role to play. Having clean toilets is at least as important as having a decent sermon. Making sure the light bulbs are working is right up there with making sure we have bread and wine for communion. Greeting people at the door is as important as sending them out to serve. Big events require lots of little efforts and they each matter.
When Diocesan Convention was over I really didn’t even know who all to thank. Things happened that I had no idea about. People were here helping that I never even saw. Each was adding his and her own little offering. Every Easter is that way. I have my own role but I show up to find so many other roles being filled or having been filled before I even arrived on the scene. Then there’s always the last minute little crises that various people notice and rise to solve. This parish does big stuff well. And it does so because so many are willing to pitch in. “How did that all come together?”, I am regular led to ask.
There’s another layer of involvement by people that is remarkably important, though I think often discounted or overlooked. Beyond the staff and vestry and dozens of volunteers who work together to pull off these big events, there are the people who simply come to participate. They are actually the lifeblood of the various events. What’s a dinner party, in fact, without any of the guests showing up? It’s no dinner party, that’s for sure.
Each of us has a role in the various church events and each is as important as any other. Being here to receive communion is as important as being the one to serve communion. Being here to listen to a sermon is as important as preparing and delivering a sermon, and much more difficult I might add. Kneeling to pray is as important as the work involved to needlepoint the kneelers. Singing the hymns is as important as the talent providing the music. Sitting in the pew, not doing one thing more than following the liturgy, is as important as those who provided the facility for us. Praying for the welfare of the church when life’s circumstances have made it so that we can no longer attend is as important as being here.
Participation, at whatever level we do it, is vital. Sometimes we discount that and think who we are and what we offer matters not. No doubt St. John’s will go on whether or not you or I participate. But how much better it is when we do participate, at whatever level we are able at this point in our lives.
The Church proclaims the various seasons and invites us to become part of the whole. God creates all that is and invites us to participate and become more and more a part of the whole. What is your part in all this? Whatever your part, remember how vitally important it is, not just for you but for all of us.
Thank you for being part of the one body. Without you we would be so much less. I am amazed at how it all works together and am grateful for the privilege of being in this remarkable place. It is a glimpse of the kingdom of God.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.