Duty. I don’t know if I really like that word with all its implications of things you HAVE to do that must be done with a grin-and-bear-it attitude. Nevertheless, I volunteered for kitchen duty today for our church’s annual celebration/outreach/run-the-kids-until-they-drop event.
I find my blog posts in the weirdest places. I found this one in the kitchen sink while I was washing up those disposable tinfoil roasting pans. (Yes, we wash and save disposable roasters, it saves the church money AND it’s eco-friendly!) Anyhow, there I was, elbow deep in dirty water when I saw this post staring up at me from the bottom of the roaster. Have you ever used one of those roasters? Then you know what they say on the bottom. “Support the bottom.”
Have you ever filled one of those things with something heavy like a Thanksgiving turkey or twenty pounds of barbeque pork and tried lifting it WITHOUT supporting the bottom? It doesn’t work very well, does it? The bottom caves in, the sides give way and there you are with Thanksgiving turkey or pork all over the floor.
Support the bottom. It’s critical to the outcome.
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen today, so I had a lot of time to reflect on those three little words. And there are two things that they seemed to be saying to me. I tried to narrow this post down to one, but they both seemed important and yet who wants to post about roasting pans two days in a row? So today you get my two-pronged thoughts on what it means to support the bottom in the church.
First, it means to support the ‘least of these’ among us. Every church has them; the ones who drift on the edges because they are afraid to commit, afraid of rejection, afraid of something; the ones who can’t fully participate due to physical or mental ailments; the ones who come bearing so much baggage it shows all over their face. Support the bottom. It gets easy in churches to ignore those who don’t command our attention, and yet they are the ones who often need it the most. They are the hurting, the dying, the lost, the ones that the church is supposed to be a shelter and a support for and yet they often get ignored. Go long enough without supporting that bottom and it doesn’t matter what you’ve piled inside, the church will cave in, lose some of the meat that it is meant to be feeding the world with.
Second, supporting the bottom means being willing to do the menial tasks, the ones that don’t get the shining spotlight of recognition. It’s kind of amusing because I’ve been browsing around in spiritual gifts tests online this week trying to figure out what my area of gifting in the church is and not really coming up with anything definitive. But one of the questions that is often asked is “Are you willing and happy to do the menial tasks that need to be done around the church?” As I was entering my second hour this morning of stirring pork barbeque I decided maybe I needed to revisit that question and give myself higher marks than I did before. Who’d have thought stirring barbeque was a gift? But guess what would have happened if I and another member hadn’t stood there and stirred for several hours? What would have happened if people hadn’t shown up at 8:30 in the morning to set up chairs and blow up inflatables and run wires and a host of other ‘menial’ tasks? The worship team could have shown up to sing, but without a stage or sound system their voices wouldn’t have carried outside. The pastor could have stood up to preach, but would he have held the attention of people if they were standing or sitting on the ground trying to get comfortable? It doesn’t matter how much good meat went into the pan, if the bottom isn’t supported by people willing to help with the small tasks it all falls apart.
So there you have it; my musings during kitchen duty today. Like I said, I get my inspiration in the oddest places; who would have thought a tinfoil roaster had so much to say to me? I hope it says something to you as well. Think about it the next time you see a roaster in the store. What are you called to do to support the bottom?