Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
These verses came very strongly to mind last Tuesday when I sat in the midst of many of Xenia’s pastors and ministers at the Xenia Area Association of Churches’ meeting. There are so many wonderful things happening in our community – and so many different things.
The need for some ministries is so very great that more than one church is engaged in meeting the need. In other instances, churches are doing innovative ministries that fit their unique gifts and abilities. In all cases, there is universal support for the work of everyone. It’s a good thing to see. I know, from my own experience, that the shelter ministry at Christ Church has had ongoing support from the other churches in Xenia.
While Christ Church has operated the shelter for almost a decade, it’s clear that the support of the wider community is critically important to our call to serve the homeless. We’ve been especially grateful to ministries such as the Jeremiah Tree and their day shelter, and have supported their ministry there, and that of IHN and the former Red Cross Shelter, whenever possible. We are a community of churches, and each church is doing what God has gifted it to do, and what God is calling it to do. I’ve often thanked God that we are not all called to do everything! Sometimes it’s a challenge just to do the small piece God has given us to do.
The ministries of some churches can last for years and years. In other cases, God calls us into – and out of – ministry as the need arises and the Spirit moves. At our meeting on Tuesday I sensed an openness to the Spirit, to listening, and to moving forward as the Spirit guides.
The same principal that operates for churches operates for us as individuals as well. I’ve not always been called to do the things I most wanted to do; and sometimes I’ve been called to things I definitely did not want to do! But it is true – when the Spirit calls us, that same Spirit will give us whatever we need to answer the call. When I listen to that call, pay attention, and move in the right direction, God is always with me. When I don’t listen, pay attention, or move forward – well, let’s just say that it’s not been very productive! And sometimes, it’s been downright painful.
I think it all begins, continues, and ends in prayer. God is always faithful, and does not leave us. I haven’t always been right in my discernment; but our good God has honored even my least “on target” efforts.
On Tuesday I saw many spirit-filled people doing much prayerful work – and taking great joy in the prayerful work of each other. It was a blessing to see the many gifts and abilities, services and activities, of the one Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
Rev. Dr. Lynn Sinnott is the Priest-in-Charge at Christ Episcopal Church in Xenia and a guest columnist.