Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Week Twenty - The Ministry of Showing Up

Guest Blogger today.  Enjoy!    

    Our church is a wonderful eclectic mix of people from all backgrounds and professions. In amongst the mix are a number of us who work in the NHS - four doctors, a midwife, a community psychiatric nurse, and an intensive care nurse. This is very useful in a medical emergency! In fact, one morning, one of our elderly members collapsed and we were able to attend to her. Afterwards, she remarked, “If you’re going to fall ill, then Queens Road on a Sunday morning is probably the best place for it to happen”.  
      The downside to working in a healthcare-related job is that the antisocial hours mean we often miss Sunday services, home groups or bible studies. We are not able to be as present in church as we’d like.
      One Sunday morning our ITU nurse, Nick, shuffled into church bleary-eyed with his two toddlers in tow. He’d just finished a night shift. “I may fall asleep” he smiled “but, I’m here. It’s the ministry of turning up”.
      I pondered this concept as I watched Nick’s heavy eyes close during the sermon. On the face of it, you may think that going to church when you’re half asleep is pointless. How can you possibly benefit from the message or the worship if your mind is so fatigued? However, I marvelled at Nick’s commitment and what he was really demonstrating by turning up to church despite having worked a 13-hour nightshift. I choose to be here with you all. I am sacrificing this time to be with you and with God.
      The ministry of turning up! I know what he means.
      Sometimes I work a 72-hour week. I am exhausted. My house is chaos. I need to study for upcoming exams. The fridge is nearly empty and I need to go shopping. I have deadlines looming and my mind is preoccupied with my ever-growing to-do list. I reason that I am not in the right frame of mind to take in anything from the sermon. I may not have the energy to sing along with the worship songs.
You may experience different pressures in life. The baby was awake all night. It’s the only day this week you’ll spend with your spouse. You’ve been rushing around all week and need some rest. Your toddler always needs a nap right in the middle of the service and so staying home is easier.
      We wonder how we can encourage others when we’re running on empty ourselves. What can we possibly contribute?
      The answer is - ourselves. We can give ourselves and our time. We can turn up.

Turning up is an act of worship.

      When I turn up to church despite everything else going on in my life I am showing the world, my church family and God that I have prioritised this small portion of time out of the hundreds of other hours in the week. I am saying God is important to me, and you are important to me. And surely, that’s one of the best witnesses we can give.
      Likewise, when we skip church every other Sunday for no good reason, we send the opposite message. Church needs to become a non-negotiable fixture around which we plan other things, not an optional spiritual extra to end our weekend. I don’t want to fall into a place whereby social events supersede this time set aside to worship the Lord or to be with His people - my family.

Hebrews 10:24, 25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Turning up is an act of service.

“None of the important things God has for us to do in church each week can happen if we’re not there. We can’t love people; we can’t talk to them and encourage them; we can’t gather with them to listen together to God’s Word. All of this hangs on the rather simple prerequisite of actually being there” (Kevin Halloran).

      I may not play a regular part in the service. I don’t play in the band, I don’t do the children’s talk. But I can encourage people. I can pray with people. I can minister just by simply being there.
      And conversely, on those Sundays when I feel broken and empty, I find myself surrounded by love and encouragement. God extends his arms towards me in the form of a tight hug or the squeeze of a hand from a family member. How can God love me through His people if I don’t turn up to be with them?
      Of course, God requires more from us than just attending church. But turning up is a good place to start.
      So, turn up. Even if you’re tired. Even if you’re broken or hurting. Even if you feel you can’t concentrate or you’ve no energy to sing. Turn up even though you feel no-one will miss you if you don’t, because they will.
      Show your God and your church family that you love them by turning up to be with them.

Psalm 34:3    Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!

By Dr. R. Owen

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