May 6, 2019—An Episcopal priest played golf regularly with the local Baptist minister and two of his members. The priest kept inviting the Baptists to visit one of his services until they were embarrassed at not having gone. So they committed to being good neighbors and picked a date to visit, but arrived late to the service.
Unfortunately, being liturgically-challenged, they did not know that it was a special Sunday and the church was filled completely. Therefore they stood behind the back pew. When the priest looked around and spotted them, he whispered to his attendant, ‘Get three chairs for the Baptists.’ Later, when he turned around and saw that his Baptist golf buddies were still standing he said much more forcefully, ‘Get three chairs for the Baptists!’
The acolyte stepped to the front of the chancel and said: “I don’t understand it, but if the good Father says to do it: All together now, ‘Three Cheers for the Baptists!’”
Every once in a while we should remember to give “three cheers” to those unsung but deserving persons who stand and wait, serve in the background, or perform the mundane and routine ministries of enabling and support that keep a community running in good order. You know, the ones we don’t notice or appreciate until the occasion when they do not do their good service for one reason or another. Then, our embarrassing response usually is impatience and complaint.
Resolve to find an occasion or two to offer a very public “Three Cheers!” to the army of the faithful who make our lives and ministries so much easier, through ways too numerous to count. They deserve it above most, for they carry their work and calling out of faithfulness, with little demand for recognition or appreciation. Where would we be without them?
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.