So we work diligently, hoping and praying that God will use our efforts for more than we can accomplish on our own. As a church, we are workers in the mission field that God has made, carrying out the work that God has called us to – confidently and courageously sharing the Gospel with those around us and working to serve the poor and outcast in our communities. Yet, when have we done enough? How do we know that our efforts will be received by God with those sweet words from scripture, “Well done my good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21)?
The truth is that the work of the ministry is never completed in this life, but there are little encouragements that we receive along the way. For instance, at Faith Lutheran Church we have welcomed many middle school and high school students from outside of our congregation into our confirmation group and worked hard to make sure that they feel included. Though not every student’s parents and family members have gotten involved in other aspects of our congregational life as we might hope for, the work we do is worth it when students in our group express, for the first time, that they did not realize how much God loves them. The work we do at Shepherd’s Table has been full of headaches this fall as regulations on how we serve those in need have become tighter and churches have pulled out their support of this ministry, as a result. Yet, our efforts to fulfill our Gospel command to serve those in need are rewarded when we hear laughter erupting from the conversations of those sharing the meals we offer. Aging can be a difficult process and working to support older members of our families and communities can be trying. Yet, when we pray and share our faith across generations, we are reassured that the ministry of the church reaches beyond our lifetimes and redeems us through time itself.
The work of God does not end at five o’clock but carries on throughout our lives. This can be a tiresome prospect for those of us who are active in carrying out the tasks of ministry, but it should also be reassuring that the work of God does not stop when we do and that God accomplishes more through our feeble efforts than we can ever know.