Who is Ministering to Whom?
By: Valerie Sachs - FOUNDRY Ministry Assistant
So far, Lent has been a special time for FOUNDRY members. As happens every year, we are called to acknowledge Christ’s suffering – and indeed, journey through that suffering with him – before rushing to the day of celebration that is Easter. This year has been unique for our members however, as God seems to be blurring the lines between those who minister and those who are ministered to. Isn’t that just like God to take our human hierarchical understanding of service to others and turn it into a giant cycle where all members of the body of Christ are interconnected by God’s love? Here are a few examples:
On Ash Wednesday, I was privileged to assist Pastor Christian at an Imposition of Ashes for several residents of Westmont Retirement Community. This beautiful new facility just opened down the street from FOUNDRY. Christian has been meeting with the program directors for months in anticipation of ministering to the seniors who will be living there. As we walked in to bring ashes to the seniors, the activity director called us over. “Pastor, when you are done with our residents,” she asked, “Will you come back downstairs and give ashes to any of our staff that might want them?” It was an unexpected ministry opportunity. How humbling it was to stand in the lobby of this beautiful facility and share the love of God with four staff members this way!
That night, in a darkened sanctuary, 30 FOUNDRY members silently moved between stations and were encouraged to acknowledge their sins and shortcomings through different sensory experiences with water, sand and sackcloth. It was a somber evening that reminded us that we can break God’s heart, but it didn’t end there. Rather, it ended with the Imposition of Ashes, Communion and a challenge. All were asked, “What in your community, breaks your heart?” Answers included poverty, broken relationships, illness and injustice. All of us who had been so powerfully ministered to that evening were invited to minister to others – to help the poor and sick; heal relationships and work to end injustice and prejudice.
Another case of two-way giving and receiving of God’s love has been unfolding at FOUNDRY’s weekly Lent study. This weekly opportunity to draw closer to God through study and contemplation was scheduled at Westmont and the residents were invited to join us. The first week, several residents asked questions, but none chose to participate in the class. The second week, two ladies joined the class; and the third week this number doubled. But there is more to the story than mere numbers. As residents joined our study, it became clear that this time of personal growth for our members was also going to become a time of ministry to the residents.
One woman was eager to share stories of her twin sons, one of whom had been killed in a car accident years ago. Clearly, she wanted to know that people would listen to her and care about her joys and her pain. FOUNDRY members did both. Another woman in a wheelchair joined us and didn’t say anything during the class. Later we found out, she was deaf and couldn’t hear anything being said. However, she wanted to sit with that group of people and be surrounded by the smiles, pats on the shoulder and prayers were offered. God’s people were there and this woman wanted to be there as well.
God continues to surprise us as we continue in our Lenten journey. Our prayer is that our hearts be open to times when we should receive – times when we should give – and times when we should do a little of both!