Hail to the Faithful of Your Church and Mine!
Some Christians get a lot of recognition for what they do. Some write bestselling books. Others lead impressive organizations. Some accomplish dramatic feats, while others become popular entertainers.
Within our congregations, a few people–pastors, preachers, worship leaders, and band members–get most of the attention and garner most of the plaudits.
Most Christians, however, do not get a lot of recognition for what they do. Yet they should. So let us raise a toast to the usually-unsung faithful, the Christians who do most of the work while a minority get most of the affirmation. Grab your glass of milk, your tumbler of juice, your goblet of wine, your stein of beer, your demitasse of tea, your mug of coffee, your bottle of soda pop–whatever your cup of cheer–and join with me in praising our fellow servants.
•Hail to the Sunday School teacher poring over her lesson plan after a long day’s work; cutting out materials for the class’s object lesson; learning a new song to teach them; considering yet another method for disciplining little Johnny (it’s always “little Johnny”–alas); and praying for each of the children entrusted to her instruction every week.
•Hail to the organist shopping for new music; practicing by the hour alone in the sanctuary; and on Sunday playing a splendid postlude to the glory of God that no one else really listens to in the din of after-church conversation.
•Hail to the church accountant keeping track of our finances; running down errant invoices and receipts; praying over the budget and the offerings each month; and telling us the truth about our stewardship.
•Hail to the youth worker, overwhelmed by the problems of his young charges, exhausted by another late-night event, running out of fresh ideas, and yet providing a place of safety and fun and encouragement and instruction for our needy teens.
•Hail to the scholar, alone in her study or library carrel, investing months or years to clarify the meaning of one Bible verse or the events of one historical episode, the structure of one sonnet or the nature of one chemical reaction. No one but other experts can appreciate this work, upon which all of our knowledge depends–no one else but God, who created the world and calls us to understand it, appreciate it, and steward it with the help of such expertise.
•Hail to the manager who creates pleasant and productive environments for her workers. Hail to the worker who gives a good day’s work even for less than a good day’s pay. And hail to the owner who cares more about providing useful goods and services than about maximizing profit.
•Hail to the homemaker, desperate to get out of the house, drained of energy, discouraged on every side by evidence that her family takes her for granted–hail her as she puts on a smile and sits down on the floor to sweetly help her toddler with the puzzle one more time.
•Hail to those who pray: who pray a lot, and pray well. Hail to those who have the ear of God and make the most of their privilege on behalf of others. Hail to the old people, the sick people, the quiet people, whose prayers support the rest of us, keeping us from drowning in filthy seas and enabling us to succeed in our work, whether we recognize their essential help or not.
•Hail to the altar guild member, the custodian, the snow-shoveller, the groundskeeper, whose work reminds us (if we will stop to consider it) that God loves the body as well as the soul, that God recognizes the material as well as the spiritual, and that God receives with approval and affection the offerings of each of these servants.
Yes, let us toast them all! And perhaps there are more we should recognize, and that you can recognize in the circle of your church fellowship. By doing so, let’s give thanks to the Centre of that circle, from whom all blessings flow.
(Note: This post is a lightly-reworked piece from my Church: An Insider’s Look at How We Do It [Baker, 2003].)