July 18, 2011

Doing the Trim Work

I hate to trim.

While the kids are away for a week at the grandparents, my husband and I are toiling through a long-delayed to-do list.

That includes painting several rooms. Since my husband is at least seven inches taller, he works on the ceiling while I kneel on the ground, painting the baseboards a crisp white.

After what seems like 15 hours of trim-painting purgatory, the first room has sparkling baseboards but little else to show for my back-breaking labor. It’s the wall paint the makes the splash - -that transforms the room from dingy to dynamite.

But we can’t get to the walls – the fun, transformative part -- until we finish the grunt work. 

Our churches are like that. There’s a lot of trim work that has to be done. 

For the priest, it’s the hospital visits and pop-ins, the thousands of conversations during coffee hour, the niggling administrative tasks. 

For lay people, it’s dragging our butts out of bed on Sunday morning, even when it’s the only day we can sleep in. It’s folding the bulletins on a sunny Wednesday afternoon and staying after the potluck dinner to scrub the pots and wipe down the tables. 

That amazing Sunday service with an inspiring sermon, breathtaking music, and poignant prayers of the people requires a lot of trim work, each and every week. And I give thanks for the many people who faithfully carry out these ministries without fanfare or applause. 

Sometimes we believe ministry is only about the people out front, the colorful ones making the biggest splash. But it’s the trim work that really makes things shine.