January 12, 2020 — Rev. Paula Norbert
Brief Reflections after Martha Jacques:
We’re so grateful to Martha for joining us today and sharing some stories from her important work at Alternative Pathways. I know that several people from our church have been dedicated volunteers there in recent years and that it has meant a lot to the young people there, as well as the staff. One of the things that drew me to Union Church was the wonderful support that this church offers to various programs in our local area, as well as the international support we offer to two young people in high school. I have always believed that our faith requires that we put it into practice in service to others. We hear that line that Jesus shared in several Gospels that the being a servant is so important. We also remember in John’s Gospel that on the night before he died, Jesus modeled that humble servanthood by getting down on his knees and washing the feet of his friends and disciples. It must have been very powerful for them to experience the one whom they called Rabbi and teacher, the one whom they respected to model this, that we are all called to care for one another.
In Luke’s Gospel, we hear “To whom much has been given, much is expected.” And we remember that very challenging passage from Matthew 25 where Jesus speaks about the last judgement and says, “How did you treat the least of my brothers and sisters?” For a long time, some people came to speak of charity in a condescending manner that they were so important in helping others who have less, but over time, most Christians have come to understand that social justice is very important, that there are actually structures that can make it difficult for people to break out of cycles of poverty or addictions or other challenges. We hope that we offer our service to one another in a mutual way, that we will all have times when we can use our gifts to help others and there will be times when we ourselves will be laid low and will be in need of support and help.
I recently heard a wonderful interview on Maine Public Radio as they have a series interviewing centenarians in this year of our bicentennial. They were speaking with a gentleman who shared that he felt that the volunteer work he has done over the years has truly extended his life. He feels a sense of purpose and has discovered a community of people who care about him and about whom he cares. It’s a wonderful and mutual journey. Our lives are enriched and if we offer our service and support in a loving fashion, we hope that others lives are enriched as well. I thank all of you for the many ways that you support the outreach of this church through the financial support you offer and by the ways that so many offer their support by being present to others.