Part of my seminary training is a congregational ministry placement. This means that I’m getting to work at a church, so that I can see how congregational ministry works from the inside. My placement is at Cornerstone Church in Snellville, GA. I’m mentoring under the pastor there, Gwen Brown.
A week ago, Sunday, I went to Cornerstone for my first Sunday. It was not a typical Sunday. One of the members had died earlier in the week, leaving family and friends to mourn, and the rest of the small church family to comfort them. Funeral arrangements were made, and church members stepped in to help however they could.On Friday after work, I drove to Cornerstone to help prepare for the funeral on Saturday. I spent the evening cleaning bathrooms and mopping floors.
It may sound strange, but cleaning is kind of cathartic for me. In college, I paid for my housing and meal plan by cleaning my dorm for 3 hours a day, every day. Scrubbing the floors was great stress relief and sometimes I would turn the bathroom floor into a slip ‘n’ slide after scrubbing with commercial-grade, awesome suds.
I would clean in the middle of the day, usually, so my singing while I scrubbed the showers wouldn’t bother as many people. I wrote my best papers, thought my best thoughts and dreamed my best dreams while I cleaned. A regular Cinderella, I tell ya.
I was thankful for my job, and maybe sometimes saw it as a ministry, but probably not really so much.
But, on Friday, everything was different. While I cleaned I kept thinking about the friends and family that would be there on Saturday, and that got me thinking about ministry:
about how, if in the simple act of scrubbing sink stains into obliteration helps a mourner feel at home and cared for, in the midst of a difficult time, then I have done one of my jobs as a minister;
how if, by scrubbing toilets, sweeping/ mopping floors, and dusting, the place became clean and comforting: a place where those mourning a loss can come face to face with the comfort of God; then I have done one of my jobs as a minister;
how if, in shining up the plant containers in the sanctuary and cleaning the plant leaves, the sanctuary became a shiny and hopeful place for remembering a life, then I have done one of my jobs as a minister.
And, if in any of these things, God was glorified, then I have done one of my jobs as a minister.