January 19, 2017

A Love Letter for the Workers in the Vineyard 


grapes on the vine

It's 6:45 a.m. and I'm currently sitting in seat 10F, chugging coffee 30,000 feet up, headed to Idaho (where it's a high of 20 degrees...just, WHY) for the first event of the new year. This morning, I kissed the kids while they were still sleeping and started crying, as I always do whenever the first event of the new year hits and I've had three weeks of total, blissful, uninterrupted (mostly) time off with my family: baking cookies, caroling, wrapping presents, playing games, acting like dorks together, and all the general frivolity of "Christmassing". Leaving my girls and husband is always hard. It never gets easier. And post Christmastide, I admit, is the worst time...it's tough to go back to airports and reality. (BTW, I know most of you are reading this and thinking "ummm...Christmas? Reality? I get no time off...that IS my reality!" Sorry friend. You are loved and appreciated!)

Always, and I mean ALWAYS, on my way to the airport, I say these words to my husband: "is it time for me to go work at Starbucks yet?". We laugh about it, but I have to admit that it's a secret dream of mine; Starbucks employment, close to home. And maybe a tiny house in the woods. With no TV. And a pet chicken.

BUT....I digress. Though it's leading to a conversation about work, and love. And the love of work...and the work of love.

The work of the vineyard is hard work, yes? More than that even. It requires sacrifice. And great, great love. I love my family and want to be with them, but I also love God, with all my heart, and I love His beautiful, diverse, amazing church. So, I fly away, and I keep going and returning and going and returning. With love. Until God asks otherwise. Until the song is sung.

All of us in our chosen field of church work, whatever it may be, ask ourselves the question at least once, or maybe more like a bazillion times..."why am I doing this? What drives me? WHY this path? Is it time to work at Starbucks yet???"

If the answer is anything but "love", it may be time for a reboot.

Do you ever wonder how you came to be doing what you do for work? I do. Working for the church wasn't necessarily my life plan when I started out. I mean, I wanted to be a Disney princess. (Ok, ok. I still want to be a Disney princess.) The truest answer I have for that question is this: "I have no idea". I'm not kidding...I 100% mean it when I say that. At age 22, I was just a clueless girl who loved God and liked to make music. At the age I am now (insert your guess here), I'm just a clueless girl who loves God and likes to make music.  So, not much has changed there. I suspect most of us who work for the church began like that; with a heart on fire for God, and a skill set.

What has changed for me, and does change for all of us, is life. And we are often spectators, sometimes helplessly watching as life unfolds for us and before us, often - in the words of the great John Lennon - "while you're busy making other plans". Births, deaths, weddings, divorces. Home ownership, insurance, politics, finances. Accidents, illnesses, heartbreak, chaos and beauty. Adulting. And all the while, trying to work and serve and contribute to the church and the world while providing for ourselves and our families. Whew. It's messy, exhausting business.

Often before we know it, we become so weighed down by the chaos of living - and making a living - that we lose sight of the One we are living for. We forget our first love, our passion for what drew us to our calling in the first place. In 1 Corinthians, we are told that everything we do, if without love, is for naught. Our words (and music) are but a noise without love, like the clang of cymbals or the beating of gongs. I don't want to be just another noise in the world; there is enough of that. And I know you don't either.

So instead we must remember, believe, cling to this truth: that in the love of Christ alone, we have our being. Jesus is not a taskmaster. He did not say "come, work for and serve me and I will beat you down, cause you to be passionless, and watch as you lose all sense of yourself for my sake until you loathe my church and are a puddle on the floor". He says this to us: "come...run away with me! You are my beloved! I will never, not ever, forsake you. Open your hands and let go of those things you hold onto so tightly, and take the hand I offer you instead. Stop trying so hard to control all the little things; please, just be passionate about the business of being after my heart, as I am after yours, and the rest will come. I promise I will take care of you."

 

Dear friends, just love Jesus. He loves you. If you feel worn by your work and need to rekindle the passion of your calling, then be passionately after the heart of God, and follow where he leads. That rekindling of love will trickle down into the work that you do and manifest itself in ways that will leave you standing in awe.

And all the rest shall be added unto you.

 

"Now love is not what I imagined once;
It is crown and crucifix, body and blood
And a bridegroom who waits,
His heart overcome with love."

      - Sarah Hart ("Come Away", from 'Til The Song Is Sung)

 

 
Sarah Hart
Sarah Hart

Sarah Hart is one of the leading figures in contemporary Catholic music today. Her songs of faith and workshops have touched the lives of thousands.

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