At a faith-based retreat in a time long, long ago, these words came to me: “and you are to serve my people”. It was the end of the retreat and we were sharing what we had gotten from our time praying, studying and chatting. As one gentleman had just spoken his truth to us, those words came directly to me, unbidden, unexpected, unapologetic: “and you are to serve my people”.
It was a life changing moment that caused me to (eventually) quit my job as a Computer Service Technician so that I could pursue God’s call to me.
The statement of that call, “and you are to serve my people”, was very specific. “My people”. I assumed that I was being invited to serve other Christians like myself within the context of an organized church. So, I became a Minister of Word and Sacrament within the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Simple, no? Upon Ordination, or upon taking the steps to becoming Ordained, I had fulfilled the terms of God calling me “…to serve my people”.
Not so simple, however.
Not the serving part. The “my people” part. At least, the “my people” as I had thought it meant. I thought that it meant faithful, if imperfect, people like myself. Not just Presbyterian folks, but Christians in general, but here’s the thing. All my life, even as a “Computer SERVICE Technician, I have been serving people. As far back as High School I was chatting with folks and helping them figure things out. Which means that, as I grew more and more comfortable in my Call to serve God’s people, I grew more and more broadminded in who those people were. Yes, I continue to actively serve a congregation within the Presbyterian Church in Canada as an Ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament within that denomination, but those aren’t the only folks I serve.
In answering God’s call “…to serve my people” I have come to realize that, faithful or not, we are all God’s people and that is who I am called to serve. What’s more, I have learned that it doesn’t matter who or what a person is; we are all children of our Creator God, each reflecting the characteristics and qualities of our Creator in our own unique way. Gender identity, Race, Creed, political status, wealth, power, poverty, saintliness or sinfulness, wholeness or brokenness might identify and divide us, but none of that matters in who God has called me to serve. God’s people are all of humanity, and it is humanity I serve, however imperfectly that might be.
One final thought. God’s call to me used the word “serve”. Over time, I have come to realize that the core of that service is to love God’s people. As such, it’s not the easiest call. Serving is detached and uninvolved. Love is not. Yet reframing my call in terms of love makes it all the more worthwhile and helps me to see all God’s people through the eyes of our Creator and to understand just how privileged I am to have been able to answer God’s call.