Bless Us to Thy Service

By Sandra Seaborn, Associate Priest

Posted on March 9, 2016

Heads bowed, looking at the steaming vegetables on the table, I would hear my grandfather speak the familiar refrain. “Lord bless this food to our use and us to Thy service”. I grew up thinking that saying grace was thanking God for the food. It wasn’t until I was older, that I even heard the second part of the prayer, the part about service.

Like most children, I had my share of chores around the house. I put out the garbage, helped bring in groceries and tidied my room. I saw these acts as my duty, sometimes even as necessary, for allowance. Looking back, I can’t pinpoint the exact turning point. The transition from duty to service came slowly, built on varied experiences of living with roommates. Sharing space as a young adult came as a sobering surprise. Once you’ve lived with someone who doesn’t do their dishes regularly, you begin to see the dirty mug you were about to put in the sink in a different light.

In many ways, church functions like an extended family. Sunday morning worship times are when we gather around the table for a special meal. Preparing the space, the music, the program, the feast – takes many hands. Some people come during the week to arrange flowers and sort the silver. Others help by coming early to the gathering to greet and guide newcomers. Still more sing, read, and pray. There are roles that are public, like carrying the cross and serving communion. There are roles that happen behind the scenes, like counting the offering and offering confidential prayer. Some tasks need special training and clearance, like Children’s Ministry. Other tasks are open to all, like bringing treats (store bought or home baked) for coffee hour. Can you imagine, every Sunday at St. Paul’s morning more than 150 people serve in some way?

The first time I heard an ask for volunteers I discounted myself – too young, too inexperienced, too busy. Over time I was nudged gently by my pew neighbours and the Holy Spirit. In time, I said yes. Still, I remember how afraid I was the first time I held the cup for others to drink, sure I would trip or spill. I remember too, after the nervousness dissipated, being nourished and strengthen by serving; a quiet realization that my faith was growing by giving back.

Heads bowed, looking at the steaming vegetables on the table, I now hear myself speak the familiar refrain, “Lord bless this food to our use and us to Thy service”.

Are you interested in serving at St. Paul's? Contact me and let me know.