EVS Diary

Faith & Service

I met pastor Derek because I joined the choir of the Bratislava International Church (BIC). It is a small but welcoming church which you can't really spot from the outside. You have to go in, you have to get involved. Listen to the words of a Lutheran pastor.

 

“In my role as a pastor for the last 10 years, one of my goals for every congregation that I serve is that the community of faith gets involved in the community around it. One of my personal interests is to activate that service and connection in terms of impact in four distinct areas: locally; regionally; nationally; and globally. Clearly the first two are easier to accomplish in terms of actual "feet on the ground" service but there are ways to engage in support for the other two as well through financial giving, advocacy in government and raising awareness of particular issues. For those of us in the church (and I feel I should clarify that I represent a Christian perspective broadly and more specifically a Lutheran perspective as I am a Lutheran pastor), we see volunteerism in terms of "service" to the other - to those around us in need or underprivileged and we think of it in terms of loving our neighbor. This is as a result of our faith tradition that leads us to that service in response to the love we receive from our understanding of God as the creator of all.

Largely, the service that communities of faith engage in is guided by the communities in which we exist and what the local issues are, especially as it relates to poverty and social issues that impact those communities. Therefore, the types of service represented in communities of faith will vary quite a bit. However, some issues exist almost everywhere and so you will see, for example, communities of faith engaged in projects of service around issues of homelessness, support for disenfranchised communities (for example, when I served in California we engaged in projects dealing with immigrants from Central and South America), and in response to local or regional tragedies or natural disasters.

(…) In the Lutheran Church (…) our worship services (…) are designed to gather, support and encourage one another and to be sent into the world in service using the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as our guide for how to engage in that service. Our understanding of Jesus is as a servant leader. He always reached out to the disenfranchised, lived a life of humility and service to the other and always did so in love towards the other. We see this in the Bible, in the New Testament when Jesus eats and spends time with tax collectors, prostitutes and those that society has rejected and marginalized. This is the motivation for service in communities of faith - that we ourselves are loved by God as God's creation and are called to share that love with others (whom we also perceive as God's beloved creation).

One statement that I've often heard among pastors and other Christians that might illustrate the role of service in our communities of faith is this: "Sitting in a church pew makes you no more a Christian than sitting in a garage makes you a car". This statement illustrates that it is in living out our faith, in engaging in the very lives of love oriented service that is almost required of those of us who claim Christianity as our faith. We are guided by that which we worship; a God that has reached out to us in love whether we deserve it or not (and one hint here is that we understand humanity as inherently flawed by sin and therefore undeserving of the kind of love and forgiveness that we believe we receive from God our creator) and we are therefore motivated by that gift of love and new life to share that gift with others so that justice, peace and joy might exist throughout the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be "the Body of Christ" together for the sake of the world. Though we often (one could say always) fall short of our goals in that regard, we strive to live out our faith in ways that Jesus has illustrated for us so that others might know that they too are loved, they too are deserving of support and dignity, and they too might experience peace, love and joy in this life.”

 

Thank you very much pastor Derek for writing this statement, reading through it was a pleasure. Please note that there will only be one more blog entry from me. Thanks a lot for reading and have a nice day!

Luka Paul Vethake

 

 

Quote of the day:

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”

~Jean Baptiste Massieu

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