Many years ago I served a small church that always seemed to be clean. I mean spic and span clean. And painted. I had assumed that all this good work was being done by the small group of volunteers that took care of the grounds. I recognized them for the cleanliness of the place from the pulpit. After the service a woman came up to me and said “Rev. John we appreciate your comments about the building but it wasn’t our doing. It was Glenn.” “Glenn?” I asked in amazement. “Yes” she said, “he comes in here very late every Saturday night and cleans this place spotless.” I looked around but Glenn was not in the coffee crowd. As I asked around I learned even more. Glenn turned out to be doing important ministry. Not only did he clean the church but he made sure that the few shut ins in our congregation had their homes picked up as well. It occurred to me that I had missed something very important.
That afternoon I stopped by his house. Glenn was a bachelor, living simply. “Come in Rev. John” he said, as if he had been expecting me. He offered me coffee, “Glenn I had no idea it was you who was cleaning the church each week….” He put up his hand “Now I don’t want to talk about that, that is nothing. I don’t have much money to give so it’s the least I can do.” Wow! I thought to myself, if that’s the least you can do, I’d like to see the most! I was incredibly humbled. I was about to be even more so. “John” he said, “I’m dying. I didn’t feel well this morning which is why I didn’t make it to church. I don’t want your pity, although prayers would be nice, this can’t be changed, I have the cancer. I’m 87 years old, it’s been a good life and I am ready to go. But before I go, I need you to know about the money. I am leaving the church in my will and I want the money to go to two things; a new garden and some playground equipment for those kids. Will you see to that?” I was in awe of his ministry and generosity. “Yes Glenn” I said quietly, “I will see to that”. “There is one more thing Rev. John” “What’s that Glenn?” “I don’t want any recognition of my decision until after I die.”
One year later, on a cold spring day we dedicated a new garden and play ground set to a man who understood what ministry was really about. I believe we all have a ministry, a grace to give the world. If only we will set it free.
With Grace and Grit, John