I’ve been thinking a lot about our mission recently. We have a desire to minister to our community through practical acts of love and service. We already have a busy food ministry that we are expanding. We want our new building to support our mission with a commercial kitchen to provide meals as well as food parcels. We want a café so we can serve low cost meals and offer training in hospitality to long term unemployed people. We want to offer education and training to help people find work and improve their lives. We want to offer a place of welcome to those who feel they don’t fit in anywhere else. We are looking to see if we could offer laundry and washing services. We minister in one of the most deprived areas of Adelaide and see our ministry in terms of responding to the needs of our neighbours.
It’s a similar type of ministry to that of Tabitha who we are reading about today. From what we can gather, Tabitha spent her life always doing good things that would help the poor in her city. She seemed to have a special gift for making clothes that she would give to people who would otherwise not have any. When we compare it to the ministry of others in Acts, like Paul’s, it seems somewhat unglamorous; somewhat forgettable. Yet she carried it out faithfully, and when she died, her loss was keenly felt by the community who felt strongly enough about it to tell Peter that she had died. Peter felt strongly enough to drop what he was doing and come to visit Tabitha’s community because he valued that ministry as an extension of Jesus’ ministry.
We may look at what other churches are engaged with and think what we are doing is very small or insignificant. We may think it is unimportant in the great scheme of things; is easily overlooked by others. Readings like today remind us that, as far as God is concerned, there is no such thing as a small ministry. Even small acts can have large effects. There is no such thing as an ordinary person. We are assured that God cares about our mission. God calls people to a faithful and humble service because there is a need for it to be done, and if we don’t do it, who will? The poor and marginalised are the most ignored by society, yet they were never ignored by God. We should take comfort that we are being faithful servants of the gospel by being the physical presence of Jesus to our communities. We are engaged in the most important mission of all, the same mission Jesus was engaged with. As we make important decisions about our future, let us never forget who we are and what we are called to do.
Photo credit Dorothea Lange “Migrant Mother”