An unexpected sermon on Service Sunday

Yesterday (Sunday, April 21), the congregation of which I am part stepped out of the sanctuary and into worship via acts of service. I’ll admit, I wasn’t wild about the idea, but as a member of the church board I went along to get along. God had more in mind for me, as God usually does.

recycle please

The wide-ranging opportunities for service – from packing health and school kits for Mennonite Central Committee, to pitching in with yard work for shut-ins, to picking up trash along the scenic Yellow Breeches – provided something for everyone. Thanks to thoughtful planning by the coordinating team, age and physical limitations weren’t an issue. Children, youth, and adults, including the most senior among us, served side-by-side in Jesus’ name.

I signed up to cut plastic shopping bags into strips that can be crocheted into water-proof sleeping mats for people who are homeless. The project seemed a nice fit with my commitment earlier this year to direct more time and funds to projects that benefit the poor. And I liked the idea of less plastic in the local landfill.

Two goods from one morning’s efforts. Not bad.

The eight of us who gathered in the church parlor, scissors in hand, received our instructions from Laura, one of the older members of our congregation. She and her friends at nearby Messiah Village, our denomination’s retirement community, each turn out 14 or more of the 8 x 3 foot mats over the course of a year. They give the mats to Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg, PA.

It’s their ministry. But not just the mat making. As the women cut, tie, and crochet, they pray for the ones who will receive their handiwork.

By the world’s standard, these dear sisters in Christ aren’t doing much. In God’s economy, however, cast-off plastic bags, crochet hooks, and good hearts can accomplish a lot.

For a few hours on Sunday morning, I was a partner with Laura and her friends in their ministry to the poor. And I was blessed by a sermon not of words, but of gentle action.

Two goods from one morning of service. Not bad.

If you don’t have a Laura in your church but would like to learn how to make sleeping mats from plastic shopping bags, watch this video.


  1. harrietbicksler says:

    Thanks, Rebekah, for this reflection on a great day! I remember that you weren’t wild about the idea in the beginning. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how ideas that seem unworkable at first can turn out really well when committed people put their minds to something?

  2. You’re right, Harriet. Hard things are easier to handle when everyone pitches in. The joy reflected on people’s faces was a blessing.

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