Last week, I wrote about the invisible man and woman who make things happen for us. This week, I want us to reflect on pouring out our souls into our families, relationships, communities, church, work, and all things that are dear to us. This week, I invite you to be the shoemaker who pours himself or herself into doing the best that they can, and more.
Over the past several months, once it became clear that we will have a deluge of refugees from Afghanistan, some of our parishioners asked what we can do as a parish to help. As a result of this question and many others, we began a process of discernment of what God might be calling us to do. We knew that this was a heavy task and so we committed ourselves to a process of discernment. The process was methodical, open, and inviting. Each participant at these meetings was encouraged to ask questions, asking as many questions as possible.
During this time, I have seen parishioners pour out their souls into this new developing ministry. Surprisingly, I have read more emails from some of our parishioners who are involved in our Refugee Ministry than I have read from them in the last four years. That, in itself, tells of their deep investment in this ministry.
If, at the beginning of the year, anyone had predicted that Christ Church would be engaged in a refugee ministry, I wouldn’t have believed it. But what has been heart-warming and fulfilling is the extent to which we have poured ourselves into this ministry and worked as hard as possible to prepare ourselves to welcome a family. Many are the parishioners who have donated money and household items to help.
Pouring ourselves into this new ministry - and every other ministry - is emblematic of who we are at Christ Church. At our core, we are a compassionate and caring parish. We pour our souls into our outreach mission for those in our community, and well beyond.
As I wrote this article, there were parishioners who were dropping off items to support our Angel Tree Christmas outreach, which benefits those in our community who may not be as fortunate to find a gift under a Christmas tree this season. At every step of the way, when Christ Church invites you to walk with fellow parishioners on any particular journey, you put on your shoes and walk. Talking about putting on shoes reminds me of a story about President Lincoln.
President Abraham Lincoln was said to have delivered a speech in the United States Senate. He was being heckled as he gave this particular speech. Many were the insults that were thrown at him, but the President maintained his composure until a senator reminded the President, “Mr. Lincoln, you should not forget that your father used to make shoes for my family." This was followed by a burst of laughter; many of the President’s Republican colleagues couldn’t help themselves at this particular insult directed at him.
This reminds me of the sneering comments that were thrown at Jesus when he visited a Synagogue in his hometown (Matthew 13:55). After teaching them, hear their reaction: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?”
Who cares if he was the carpenter’s son? It was as if being a carpenter’s son or a shoemaker’s son shouldn’t be enough, that one has to be a scion of an aristocratic family in order to be listened to. Does being a carpenter’s son or a shoemaker’s son mean that you cannot pour your soul into what you do?
Everyone kept laughing until the President regained his composure. And then he spoke: “Sir," he said, “I know that my father used to make shoes for your family. And there will be many others here, as well, because he made shoes the way nobody else can. He was a creator. His shoes were not just shoes. He poured his whole soul into them.”
The President continued: “I want to ask you, have you any complaint? Because… as far as I know, nobody has ever complained about my father’s shoes. He was a genius – a great creator, and I’m proud of my father.”
One of the many things I have learned along life's path is that when you are proud of your work, there’s no one person who can denigrate that work. When you pour your soul into whatever you do, no amount of insult is ever enough to let you lose focus on who you are or what you believe in.
So this Christmas, if there’s anything that you can be, be like that shoemaker. Pour out your soul into every single thing that you do - whether you are spending time with family, visiting loved ones, wrapping gifts, buying gifts, cooking, cleaning, or worshipping (we invite you to worship with us), whatever you do - however meaningful it is - pour your soul into it.
There’s nothing more gratifying than knowing that you poured out your soul - you did more than you were supposed to do because you did your very best.
This Christmas, do your very best.