The worth of what we are doing

The other morning, Jensen gave me a quarter—a bright, shiny quarter, I mean.

The preschoolers were on their way back to class after chapel, but he and Ms. Lizanne stopped. She opened the door to the class where I was teaching. Jensen’s three-year-old self walked right over and put the quarter in my hand.

In the glint of that quarter was the light of proof: the worth of what we are doing—and even more to the point, of what God is doing—at HLUMC.

One of the things you’ll notice about Hawthorne Lane is how active we are.

I use the word active intentionally. We are not busy, if busy means flitting, distracted, unfocused, unable to get anything done. How many times have you heard, or said, “I haven’t stopped, but I haven’t gotten anything accomplished”? That’s busy. Lots of busy churches out there doing lots of stuff, but to what end? (And, of course, more than a few churches doing nothing much at all.

Active, though, suggests your energies are focused: on a task, or part of a task. Your time is full, but with purpose. You have goals in mind and clarity about how to achieve them. You can see what you are doing and why you are doing it. And if at the end of the day you fall exhausted and aching into the bed, you rest assured in the knowledge that you have accomplished a lot, even if it’s only a little piece of the big dream.

An early morning run, when you are training for the marathon. Crafting a solid paragraph, or a good sentence, for your term paper or novel. Tilling a dry, brown acre in anticipation of fresh vegetables to enjoy and share. Hard-planing a cherry board that will be part of the heirloom hutch you are making for your daughter. And for her daughter’s daughters. A painful, regular contribution to your 401K. Teaching, or learning, fractions. Active-ities; not busy work.

Hawthorne Lane, too, is active. We don’t do busy to appear active. We are active—so active that some people might mistake it for busy. But there is always purpose and focus in what we do. We are constantly tending pieces of the work we are called to do. Investing all our energies in worship, study and mission, we teach our children, and youth, and everyone else that we are uniquely loved by Jesus, uniquely called by him into the church, uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit to go out again and make a godly difference in the ungodly world. And I believe we are getting pieces of that done.

We ask our people to invest their time, their talents, their financial resources and their service in our holy work—and many do. And if, in a given moment or season, it can seem chaotic and feel (as we often describe it) like “holy pandemonium,” we are convinced that what we are doing has both temporal significance and eternal purpose: is a work for now and forever.

Our choirs, small groups, preschool and preschool chapel, Room in the Inn, Coffee House worship, Theology on Top, W@H—all of it by design, actively reminding us of our special call and roll as disciples of Jesus.

And sometimes all the parts come together in a bright, shining quarter of a moment.

So…the other morning. I was teaching my regular mid-week Bible study to a group of mostly older women. Meanwhile, down the hall in the sanctuary, Ms. Lizanne was leading preschool chapel. Carolyn, our financial secretary, was in her office across the hall and wearing one of her other hats: volunteer coordinator for Room in the Inn (our Tuesday night, winter-months, overnight ministry to the homeless in Charlotte; this is our 21 st year).

Back in my class…well, just say the kids’ songs and energies—the holy pandemonium—were such that the ladies and I closed our door so we could concentrate on Nicodemus and the Woman at the Well. All of a sudden, the door opened. Ms. Lizanne looked at me and said, “Sorry to interrupt, but Jensen has something to give you.”

In strode a little boy with beautiful hair and big eyes, and in his hand was a new quarter—the kind I would have wanted to hold onto when I was his age. But Jensen said, “I want to give this to help the people who have no place to live.”

The ladies all but swooned. I knew of nothing other to do than to grab-up the child and give him a hug. I promised him we would use his quarter to help homeless people, and so I went across the hall and gave it to Carolyn for the RITI fund. Carolyn suggested I take a picture and write a blog. Simultaneously we remembered the verse, “And a little child shall lead them.”

In my own office I thanked our God, and his Christ, and the Holy Spirit for our children, our youth, our adults, our staff and our very active church.

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