It seems God has put service on my heart this week.…
I occasionally attend a Taize service on Tuesday during my lunch hour. (Taize service = repetitive prayer through song and silence.) On this Tuesday, we ended our short meditative time together by chanting the latin words “Ubi caritas et amore; Ubi caritas; Deus ibi est.” It is a beautiful chant – sweet lyrics and soothing tempo. But it is the translation that stuck with me: “Live in charity and steadfast love. Live in charity; God will dwell with you.”
This was the start of my shortened week. Numerous opportunities followed to ponder this word “charity” and what it means in my life as child of God. Charity: defined as “benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity” or “generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering.”
So repeat to yourself 30 times – live in charity and love and God will dwell with you. Who can say no to that?!? Ah, but sometimes intent is far easier to declare than real action.
On Thursday I had the opportunity to volunteer at my company sponsored Habitat house. This is a massive undertaking for my company, in both financial and human resources. All of our 400+ employees have the chance to take a paid day off to volunteer at the build site. It was a rewarding experience to get my hands dirty and perform a purposeful act of service with my coworkers. Our hands put up walls where a young family in need could raise their kids in a warm, safe home.
Today, Sunday, our family had the opportunity to participate with our church as part of a nationwide “God’s Work, Our Hands” initiative. As our churchwide office declares, this day celebrates that we are one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. “…Every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life – flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.”
Two fantastic, organized, large-scale examples for myself and my family this week to serve; to be generous towards others and acknowledge God dwelling with us.
Unfortunately, that is not the message of my “Ubi caritas” Taize chant earlier this week… No, I am to LIVE in charity and steadfast love. That means ALL THE TIME. Not just when it has been conveniently organized for me to do so!
How do I get past my selfish focus and see the needs of others every day, all day? How do I teach my kids to truly lead a life defined by service to others; to live in charity and love?
I ponder these questions; and then I realize – it is a trick! “I” myself can do nothing worthy. I, through God, can do great things! Yes – the “Ubi Caritas” chant said “Live in charity; God will dwell with you.” But what I forgot is that God’s presence is not a reaction to my charity. God dwells in me – in you, in each member of my family, young and old – all the time. When I acknowledge that God uses me, and when I allow myself to see God dwelling all around, then I might live in charity and abandon my selfish desires – making it all the easier to see God’s presence.
Ah, heavy, theological thinking for this accountant. Summarized message for me – do not wait for a formal, organized event to serve! Serve and love others daily!! Serve and love because you are called to; serve and love to help your kids know God; serve and love and see God at work among each of us!
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28