Today, I stop at the grocery store on my way to church to pick up the ingredients necessary to prepare a hashbrown casserole. As I place the bag of shredded cheddar cheese and the container of sour cream into my cart, I mentally review my “To Do List” for the next twelve hours.
After arriving at the church, I head to the kitchen to assemble the casserole. Tonight, volunteers from Immanuel will serve dinner at The Next Door, a transitional residential center for women seeking to reenter society from incarceration, rehabilitation, and homelessness.
With the casserole safely ensconced in the fridge, I return to my office and update the church’s website and Facebook page. My email inbox bears evidence of the work of the Missions & Ministry Committee, which is making plans for Operation Inasmuch next April. All of our project sites and leaders are already confirmed for this annual morning of ministry in our community.
I turn my attention to Fall Fest, the family-oriented annual event that will be held on the church’s front lawn next week. Thanks to the hard work of the Preschool & Children’s Committee, my primary responsibilities are choosing a book to read to the children (I settle on Room on the Broom) and creating my costume (I will be a Christmas tree).
Tonight, I will facilitate a Companions in Christ group at my house, so I finish my homework before turning my attention to worship preparation. This Sunday I will read Scripture and lead the time for children, the confession of sin, and the pastoral prayer.
While eating lunch at my desk, I compose a skit for my Second and Third Grade Sunday School Class based on the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. (I choose not to use the work “eunuch.”) As I am writing, I discover a stranger taking a photograph of my office. Representatives from the TV drama “Nashville” are scouting our church as a possible site for an upcoming scene. I hope I get to sing.
The day is flying by, and now it’s time to head downtown to The Next Door. Four women from church meet me onsite, where we efficiently serve dinner to forty residents. The residents always express gratitude for our meals, but tonight something extraordinary happens. One of the residents comes behind the counter, gathers us in a circle and prays, thanking God for the meal and for us, asking him to bless us for our service. Her prayer has already been answered, for she has blessed all of us with her sweet spirit.
I head home refreshed, still wearing my apron. As I exit the interstate, I get a glimpse of the spectacular sunset in my rear view mirror, the heavens once again declaring the glory of God.
My husband and two cats greet me at home. My husband has done the last minute vacuuming to prepare for our guests’ arrival; the cats have done nothing to assist him. Moments later, our Companions in Christ arrive. I love the mix of individuals in this discipleship group – ranging from a 20-something couple who are new members to a retiree who has been a lifelong member. Tonight we spend time reading aloud letters affirming one another’s spiritual gifts. These letters are both humbling and empowering.
As the evening draws to a close, I silently thank God for providing me with the opportunity to use all of my gifts in his service at Immanuel alongside so many others who have taken to heart the Apostle Paul’s words: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Tambi Swiney serves as associate pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.