The theme for my reflection focuses on the meaning of service, how we learn to be of service, the importance of it to West Point Grey United Church and how important the habit of service is for us all.
I remember a Children’s time many years ago here at WPGUC when our former minister Rev. Cheryl Black gathered a group of children at the front of the sanctuary and holding up a toothbrush, she asked , What is this? When do we use it? After getting those answers she then asked , What is it called when we do something every day? One child called out ‘ ‘a habit”.
She then announced,that we as Christians have habits as well and asked ,What do you think an important habit is for a Christian to do every day? Finally a strong little voice called out “ Floss!”
Needless to say, laughter resounded in the congregation and all the dentists were smiling.
The Habits of Christianity were being defined by several writers at the time, some considered that there were 5 habits, others 7 and one wrote about 25 habits.! At WPGUC that year we focused on 6. They were: worship, prayer, bible reading, generosity, hospitality and service.
It was this last habit that is empathized in the teachings of Jesus. “Service” is a habit we have all learned as youngsters or as adults .
In the September issue of Broadview ‘ Lives of Service” were highlighted. One story by a photojournalist focused on a group of Catholic sisters and their trip to the Ukraine to work with refugees and displaced persons,”. He saw the nuns at their best : tough, courageous roll-up- your-sleeves types who devoted their lives to service as faithful workers in a war zone”
The word Service is both a noun meaning obedience, devotion, duty, and it is a verb meaning doing work to help achieve something useful or provide something that is needed ( slide one )
“The Greek word for service in the Bible is Diakoneo . It is the verb form of diakonos which means “serve.” The most specific meaning of diakoneo is to work with food , to serve other people as Martha “served” at a dinner. Our English word Deacon is related to diakonia which is sometimes translated as ‘Ministry’. The word diakonia is used to describe the ‘Ministry of the Word (in Acts 6:4) or Ministry of the Spirit (in 2 Corinthians 3:6 )
( Reference: “ Ministry means Service” by Michael Morrison PhD Dean of Faculty and Professor at Grace Communion Seminary)”
These three words each slightly differentiate the word service . And we may ask, how do we learn about being of service ? Who are our mentors or teachers ? What are our experiences today? Why is service important?
My learning about service came from being part of CGIT. This organization was referenced this summer by Marg Berthelsen during our Hymn Sing worship . She related her CGIT camp time and the inspiration she received from singing the hymn “Morning has Broken” outside in the worship circle by the lake.
CGIT stands for Canadian Girls in Training. ( Although we called it ‘ Cutest Girls inTown” ) It was a similar concept as Girl Guides . But it was a church based group established initially by the YWCA along with Anglican, Baptists, Presbyterian and Methodist churches in 1915 for girls ages 12 to 17. According to wikipedia it was an alternative to Girl Guides which the CGIT founders felt was too British or American and too “authoritarian.”At its peak there were over 1100 CGIT chapters in Canada . In 1976 it was taken over by the United Church and today still has 150 groups across the country.
At our weekly gatherings I remember reciting our Pledge ( slide two )
As a Canadian Girl in Training, under the Leadership of Jesus,
it is my purpose to
and thus with His help, become the girl God would have me be.
Those of you who have had teaching experience know that recitation is a valuable teaching and learning skill and when repeating a pledge each week it becomes a part of your world.
I began as an Explorer at the age of 7 and then ‘ graduated ‘ to CGIT and spent 6 years of leadership training , church activities , friendships and fun. Service gave us a purpose.
This has encouraged me as an adult to be involved in church activities and understand how important it is to have a purpose in life. Your experience might be somewhat similar. Have you belonged to other organizations with a focus on service and was there a pledge made by you? (pause) . Many charitable groups provide service and proudly share their vision or mission statements. Maybe at coffee time we will have an opportunity to share those experiences.
The Community of Faith here at West Point Grey certainly demonstrates that the Habit of Service is a major value in many ways. This includes:
- your decision to vote in favour of us becoming an SME site and pledging support to our student candidate . Thank you .
- your involvement in weekly classes and special activities such as lunar new year, fall fair, decorating the church, etc,)
- your presence on committees: Garden, Congregational Life, Council Building and Maintenance , Worship , Search, Reconciliation etc.
- and your presence here on Sundays. ( slide three)
WPGUC members have definitely learned the important habit of Service
James chapter 1 verse 22 describes you all
“ Be Ye doers of the Word and not hearers only”
May it continue to be so. Amen.