Called to serve

Called to serve January 10, 2013

And then there are the nights when I toss and turn, worried that I’m wasting my time, passion and faith scribbling notes in cyberspace when I could just shut the hell up and earn some blisters serving a sick, poor, oppressed, imprisoned, widowed, orphaned, abused, raped, exhausted world. Every so often I am nagged by the conviction that I’m merely playing with a worn out set of theological tinker toys while others (like local folks at the Open Door in Atlanta, or down on Koinonia Farm, or in our church’s very own soup kitchen, or a constellation of saints past and present around the globe) are doing the heavy lifting of living the Gospel in radically tangible ways.

Then the morning comes and I can hardly breathe until I’ve written something.  I listen to the booming whisper of a voice inside and outside of me  that beckons to share my yearning for justice, my longing for love and my palpable prayers for peace.  I awake to the ever simmering need to connect with someone, anyone who maybe, just maybe, needs to hear what I longed to hear when I was  in my darkest days, poisoned by the persuasion of “good Christians” who convicted me of a violent, angry, hateful God.  Or the days slick with a self-loathing swallowed in a loving spoonful of cherry-picked, for-your-own-good “theology” rammed down my throat by manipulative, self-serving “leaders”. So I listen to the still, small voice.  And I write.  I serve in the way I understand I have been called to serve.

We all have our parts to play in kingdom building, my tools just happen to be monkey-barrel brimming with anxiety, a nearly balanced scale of love & anger, an almost naive sense of idealism, a generous helping of prayin’, dark coffee, light toast, a dozen or so notepads, pencils, screens and keyboards.

Eventually we have to shut up, stand up, turn off the damn computer and get our hands and hearts dirty in the world.

So this last Sunday while at church, we were bringing our gifts to share for Epiphany Sunday.  Although my first thoughts were to offer a social justice Bible study, an LGBT spiritual book club, theology on tap, or some such “thoughts and feelings” gift I decided at the last minute to not bring what I wanted to give but be open to what is needed.  After we took communion we could leave on the alter a note-card with our gift or take a slip of paper with a gift.  As I dipped my hand in the bowl with the gifts to take, for a split second I still hoped for something easy, something that I wanted to give rather than what the community needed, what God needed.  Damn ego.  But in the surrender I pulled out the slip that read “service.” And my heart knew at once the type of service…the kind that would require me to be inconvenienced, maybe be a little uncomfortable, shut up, stand up and get to work.  Thanks be to God.

How are YOU called to serve this year?

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164 responses to “Called to serve”

  1. I just want you to know that your blog made a real difference to me today. I too struggle with doubts about whether or not my service makes a difference. I am tired of “pastors” shutting their hatred of gays and lesbians from the rooftops. They do not speak for God, God does not shout. God is that still, small voice that calls us to service. The whisper in the night to be still, be still and know that he is there.

    May God shine his face upon you.

    Your in Christ,

  2. Thanx, Kimberly! I, too, wrestle with calling and service. A couple days ago in my morning quiet time, I read a devotional selection by Dorothy Day. The selection was about service and Catholic Worker movement she built with Peter Maurin. I went to their website and poked around. Within minutes tears were streaming as somehow God’s Spirit touched mine. Yeah, we are called to bring some kind of theological balance to our little corner of the world. But, we are also called to do whatever we can ‘for the least of these.’

  3. Dear Kimberly,
    Having just spent 4 days in bed full of flu and feeling very sorry for myself, I woke yesterday with a real sense of how my ego had laid me low as well. Do you know the script, “I can’t”, “I’m not good enough” etc? I had this brilliant plan for the holidays in which I intended to read loads of theology (God help me, I’d even bought a book on speed reading to help me read more of them faster!) and then, well, crap, I got really ill. This was not what i envisaged.
    I did however manage to keep reading your blog. In the midst of it all, it felt like medicine. And today’s dose, “Eventually we have to shut up, stand up, turn off the damn computer and get our hearts and hands dirty in the world”, was exactly what the doctor ordered.
    As someone preparing for priesthood the thing is though I love books, its not the books i read but my service in the world that matters. God knows what that will look like but in the meantime your blog over in Atlanta has enabled me in Derbyshire, UK to at least get out of bed!
    Happy New Year! And bless you Kimberly for your service to the world.
    Cath Hollywell xxxxx

    • Cath – you brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Don’t be hard on yourself for the downtime that illness requires and do not fret over plans gone awry. As the flight attendants will tell you – you must but the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others 🙂

      Your heart is craving balance and because of that craving, if I were a betting woman (well, I have once or twice) I would bet you are and will find the true balance you are called to live in your ministry.

      Blessings to you across the pond!