You Did It for the Least of These

June 2008 Pastor's Newsletter Article In the Great Judgment Parable of Matthew 25, Jesus says: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."

Those who did are as surprised by this pronouncement as those who didn't, revealing that the care they provided to "the least of these" was not a calculated effort to gain eternity, but a lifestyle that grows out of an experience of God's grace. When someone experiences God's grace, reaching out to the world with love and care is a natural reaction.

At Saint Peter, we are convinced that a commitment to serving the community is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship. The third of our five "Habits of Discipleship" is to be involved in an act of service to the community at least once every month. Our Vision Statement declares our hope to be an "inviting, growing and serving" community.

Examples abound. Ron has spent many hours tutoring students. Jeanne has had a passion for those who are taking refuge in Damen House. Maynard was a tireless advocate for Habitat for Humanity. Lisa has spent countless hours with senior citizens at Holly Heights Nursing Home. Walt helps with the distribution of food to needy families at the Covenant Cupboard. Every month, many members and supporters of Saint Peter find ways to thank God by making a difference in the communities that surround us. Some participate with organized groups from church. Others become involved all on their own.

The level of care that a congregation and its members provide to the community is in direct proportion to the level of gratitude they have for the grace that God has shown them.

I've always been impressed with the strength of commitment that so many at Saint Peter have to the world around them. It is an indication that God's grace has been active through these believers and through this ministry. For that we ought all give thanks.

This summer, I am hoping to strengthen and increase our efforts to be involved in the community. We currently have three Leadership Teams (Executive, Mission and Administrative) and five Ministry Teams (Discipleship, Evangelism, Youth & Families Ministries, Stewardship and Property). In the coming weeks, we will be creating a sixth Ministry Team: The Community Service Ministry Team. My hope is that this group will help us to assess our current strengths and growth areas, to coordinate the timing of various service projects that we are currently supporting, and explore how we might grow in our commitment to these kinds of ministries.

If you are interested in leading this team, or in serving on it, please let me know (I already know of three volunteers). I am hopeful that as this team gets organized and begins to make a difference, they will help us to become more and more a congregation that is, "Serving... with Christlike love and compassion."

God's peace to you all,

David J. Risendal, Pastor