Sunday, May 29, 2011

To usher or not to usher -- that is the question

Several years ago our church membership dwindled such that someone had a great idea (to him or her) -- let's include women on the usher list. When the change was made, I cringed just a bit. Men had always done that job, and that worked fine by me. Maybe some women wanted to be counted as "equal" to men, but for me, that equality was not an issue. God made us -- male and female. OBVIOUSLY -- we are different, so why should I try to do everything a male does, try to think like a male (hahaha) or be like a male. No matter what I might try, God made the difference between male and female obvious at birth. The end.

Therefore, men can be ushers, and if any woman wants that role -- fine, let her do it.

However, the usher list includes my name for the first 2 Sundays in June. Over the last few years with this revised list, I have gotten quite creative in not being "available" those 2 Sundays. I could plan a trip to visit with family -- the easiest is offering to watch grandchildren on Saturday night so parents could go out. Another tactic was offering to preach at neighboring towns -- a particular minister loves when I offer Sundays I am available. One Sunday I even offered to the organist that maybe she wanted a Sunday off -- to which she gladly obliged. One year, I asked a youth in the church if she would fill in for me -- and did so gladly. (Although now that youth is gone with none to fill the gap...) Several years ago, I asked to be taken off the usher list.

The new list had my name.

So the next time I knew the list was being created, I asked (by sending my request to an elder that helped with the list, plus the clerk of session). To no avail. My name still appears on the list.

Did you notice that June starts this week?

What would I do? How do I get out of ushering?

Did you ever have something that just seems to eat away at you?

Several months ago I noticed that I was rather edgy. I thought it from negotiating. Well, negotiations were completed, but the feeling in my tummy just stuck. Then I though it was ending the school term. Term finished, and I still had that yuck in my tummy. Then we enjoyed vacation - potentially that could have me a bit edgy with people gathering together from a variety of distances, all of us pulling together for meals and living space, and just being us as a family. Guess what... the pit is still there.

And I noticed along the way I didn't want to read the Bible anymore. I would, but that eagerness to read became duty. And picking up God's Word, a light of my life, was not really taking place. I would pray, but something about reading....

Today at church the "rest of the story" fell into place. I realized that the next Sunday I was to be designated "usher". What would I do? I just wanted to be able to come to worship, enjoy worship like everyone else... but... I would be an usher.... No excuses... Usher....

Was I hiding from God? Why did I not want to usher? Why am I willing to do most anything in the church -- except usher?

Well, this morning at church I realized that I don't know WHY. I only know that for me, it is something I am not comfortable doing. My pulling away from God's word was a reaction to not understanding an unwillingness to doing something simple in the church. I felt I must be sinning in some way. I must have my priorities all wrong. I must be very selfish that I can't do something assigned.

What is wrong with me?

Where is my love of the Lord?

Am I not faithfully serving Him to the fullest that I can?

When leaving the choir loft, I asked the fellow behind me if he would be willing to substitute for me as usher. I told him I wasn't asking him to trade -- I was asking that he take my place. I told him I'd still be in church, but that I didn't want to usher. I told him a little of my story (as you see above) -- and he said he would be glad to do that for me.

And then he told his wife. And she said, "I have asked that my name be removed from X list here at church, because that is not something I am comfortable with." So... I was not alone in those feelings of not wanting to do something that seems so simple. Others have areas of discomfort also.

And where does this go? What is the spiritual message in the midst?

We are a body of Christ as the church. We each have a gift. We are not the same in purpose within the church. Each of us has SOMETHING -- but that does not mean we all must have the same offering. Romans 12:1-21 (selection) I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect... For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.... Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Also, when your burden is heavy, share with a brother or sister in Christ. Don't care that burden alone. This carrying can become heavy such that the relationship with God suffers. Instead, share -- allowing others to minister in the midst. Galatians 6:2, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ"

And so, for next Sunday, I am not usher. I will simply worship within a congregation, the body of Christ.

In all things, give thanks. (I Thess. 5:18)