“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (NRSV)
This week we are celebrating the ministry of the laity in our churches. The laity lead the entire worship service, and the focus is on their call to ministry, not just as people who are able to lead worship, but as those who are given gifts to share as the church in the world.
Every so often when I approach someone to lead the service, I have these terrified “deer in the headlights” looks and a lot of hesitation. However, over the last two years, the people who have been asked have readily answered, “Sure!”
This year, in one of the churches I serve, a woman who is a good writer of skits and plays, and who was a lay speaker in her previous church, told me she had a sermon in her that she wanted to share. I offered Laity Sunday, and she immediately said “yes” and recruited several other parishioners to help in leading the service.
In the other church, we have this amazing, terrific, and marvelous youth group who also make up the Senior Sunday school class. I found a skit that I thought they might like, wrote up a bulletin to fit it, and asked the teacher to approach them. Without hesitation, they said “yes” and immediately began to edit the script to fit their style and understanding. Woo hoo!
Having been a lay person for many years before I began serving churches as a pastor, I can appreciate the work that so many of them do in sharing God’s love to the world. I celebrate their ministry as “the priesthood of all believers.” They take their calling seriously. Think of the many gifts that lay people share!
Here is a list of only SOME of the gifts they share: leading worship, preaching, teaching Sunday school, serving on Finance and Trustees, serving on the Staff Parish Relations Committee, serving on the Mission Committee and Worship Committee (and many others), setting up altar decorations, baking and cooking, running fund raisers, volunteering in the church office or around the grounds, organizing women’s and men’s groups, leading Bible studies, witnessing to their faith in the workplace, at home, at school, in the marketplace, or wherever they are, and this certainly doesn’t cover all of what they do.
The Laity are in partnership with the clergy to share the love of God in the world, in their communities, and with their families and friends. It’s a calling that we all have together as we ARE the church in the world. I often tell the congregations that they go out the door of the church through the servants entrance into their mission field. Worship is where we regroup, re-energize, and find support and nurture that helps us to do what we are called to do for Christ.
Let us celebrated the laity!