We did not get back from our winter vacation until Saturday afternoon sometime after 3:00 - the day before Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. In hindsight, it probably was not the smartest thing in the world to do. I thought I had things all lined up for all the activities and worship services, and that our getting back on the eve of my busiest week of the year would be no problem.
However, on Monday morning, I realized there were three roles in the Good Friday service I had not filled! Thankfully, by Wednesday evening's rehearsal, three individuals had 'stepped up' with affirmative responses to my last minute pleas. And then, just as the rehearsal was about to begin, someone pointed out another glitch. I walked out of the sanctuary and into the front hallway ... and came face-to-face with the fourth individual who said, "No problem" as she stepped up and into filling a vital character position for Good Friday.
Additionally, during Sunday morning's announcements, I heard of the food items we still needed for Saturday's distribution of Easter dinner baskets to our community. The list was long, and I feared we would need to buy the supplies with funds that the food pantry really did not have. Then, around 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning I received a phone call. With apologies for calling so early, the individual was looking to make arrangements to bring their food donation in a little late - because their mother had just been put in the hospital. Talk about stepping up! Wednesday night came, and I was told, "We are all set for Saturday - we have received all of the food we asked for." While I know the financial resources for the Food Pantry remain low, once again people had stepped up.
In this I have not even mentioned the great administrative team - staff and lay leaders - who week-in and week-out step up and 'get things done' for the Lord at STL. This week has been no exception. And I know there are tons of "little things" getting done that go virtually unnoticed ... as individual after individual steps up to serve, donate, and pray.
Hebrews 12 starts with the words, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses." That's what all these people are - a great cloud of witnesses - as they are 'stepping up' in service to Christ and his mission on earth. They are walking, step-by-step, with Abraham, Moses, Rahab, and all the witnesses listed in Hebrews 11. And I thank God for them every day.
I will never be comfortable with my shortcomings, failures, and inadequacies. It is likely that I will continue to make mistakes and see, in hindsight, the peril of my decisions. "Woe is me! For I am lost," I say with Isaiah (Isaiah 6.5). Yet I pray that I will never stop seeing - because I know it will not stop happening - God raising up individual after individual, family after family, to 'step up' and serve in his kingdom.
My prayer is actually the continuation of the direction we receive in Hebrews 12. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." (Hebrews 12.1-3)
I will never be able to make it on my own ... but Jesus keeps coming to me ... in Word and Sacrament ... raising me up ... and through individual after individual stepping up ... picking up the loose ends ... doing their part ... recognizing the needs and responding ... walking step-by-step with that great cloud of witnesses ... saying, "Here am I! Send me." (Isaiah 6.8)
In the midst of it all, all I can say is, "My God is faithful." Time after time, without fail, he is the one who 'steps up' and provides for me, and all his people. This is true, in spite of how many times I fall so miserably short of his expectations, and mine. Now, I wonder what 'forgotten detail' will arise today?