Today was the first time in over a year that I participated in a work party at a church. As you are aware, a church is no different to a house … there are always things to do. For 40 years, I have participated on many occasions, sometimes with many men and women helping, sometimes with very few helpers, and sometimes alone.
Today’s work party at Holy Trinity Church Benoni was not advertised because the council decided to restrict participants due to COVID-19 protocols. Those who came along by arrangement were one gentleman; a husband, wife and their boys; and myself. The tasks that needed to be done were leaking taps in the toilets, a leaking toilet’s discharge pipe plus the electrical fencing. One man offered to do the water leaks while another and I would do the electrical fence. On inspection, it was agreed that I cut back the trees overhanging into roads and over the fencing.
The two boys who joined us were a great help dragging the cut branches into the parking area for processing (to be cut shorter and then dumped). The one man also assisted clearing the pavements and helped the husband and wife with the fencing. I needed to leave around 12.30pm and the job was only half-done. I’m not sure whether the team completed the fencing. As one who loves to work, I feel it was a great and profitable day. I really appreciated each of them offering up a large chunk of their Saturday at a church work party. I left there with seven “take-a-ways”.
First, it was a great joy to serve the Lord Jesus. The Psalmist says:
Ps 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.
This verse ought to be read with verse 12, but for now, “serving” the Lord with fear and “rejoicing with trembling” is a great reminder that God is the only true, living God and that service must be executed with awe, humility and diligence because He is such a great King, Lord and Master. It is good to stop and consider how privileged we are to be able to serve God … to do things for God. As the Creator, He could speak and things would be done. He spoke and the sea was calmed; He touched and the ear heard and the eye saw; He broke bread and fed 5,000. Yet, He is pleased to allow us to serve Him, especially in making His House more functional and pleasing to the eye.
Second, it was a delight to see a father teaching his sons:
Dt 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
It is true this passage speaks of the Commands of God in a spiritual shape, but look at the end of verse 5. See that word “strength”? Surely that implies loving God in practical ways, and if verse 5 is a summary of the First Tablet of the Ten Commandments, then training children to serve God at work parties or at home teaches them that we are called to care for our planet and environment. It will stay with them for life.
Third, it was a great to use spiritual and natural gifts together. All Christians have spiritual gifts and all people have natural abilities. When Christians combine these, they are capable and ready to do just about anything for God. Take Romans 12:7:
Rom 12:7 If it is serving, let him serve
The word “serving” is used in Acts 6 for “serving tables”. By implication, it covers a huge variety of “mundane’ tasks that can be turned into joyful tasks because one is serving God. This act is being creative for God!
Fourth, it was wonderful fellowshipping with the Body of Christ. Fellowship is one of the most neglected–and for some, underrated–aspects of Body Life for believers. “Fellowship” could be used in two ways. The first is “The” Fellowship, referring to the Body of Believers. The second is our meeting and mixing with each other in the presence of God.
1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
Verse 6 speaks of union with God and verse 7 speaks of union with members of the Body. It is in the last way I speak. It was fun to be with these brothers and getting to know them better as we served the Lord together.
Fifth, it was a time of meeting someone new. The lady living next door to the church has been living there for seven years and has never been to the church. She has a palm tree with three branches hanging so close to the electrical fence that when the wind blows the branches will touch the fence and set off the alarm. The one man said she would not mind if I cut these branches off, but it would be a good idea to ask for permission.
When I was almost ready to leave, I saw her standing next to her vehicle in her driveway. I used this as an opportunity to ask for permission, which was freely given. Now listen to this … I said “It’s good to meet you.” Her response was “It’s good to meet you too.” I do pray something could come out of this short meeting, but being friendly with your neighbours and praying for them is Biblical!
Sixth, it was enhancing the security of God’s property.
Ps 24:1 The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
All property, but especially church property, is God’s property and needs to be protected.
Seventh, it was increasing visibility. Clearing up the overhanging branches not only helps motorist use more of the two roads, it provides a clearer sight of the church premises. People will notice God’s House better now.
O God, thank you for a body, strength, brains and hands by which to serve You with. Help all believers to use their gifts and abilities to make Your House look enticing to people passing by … and draw them in. Amen.