By the Rev. Melissa McCarthy, Canon to the Ordinary
Have you ever sat down and read the Book of Common Prayer (BCP)? When I was a new Episcopalian, I spent some good time with my BCP, and with the help of my priest, I learned some of the tips and tricks for understanding it in all of its intricacies. For example, did you know that when the BCP gives you an option, the first of the options is the preferred or normative? Whatever the BCP places first is the most regular or most important. For example, in the Catechism, under the heading Ministry, it says this:
Q. Who are the ministers of the Church?
A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.
First in that list of four different kinds of ministers is lay persons, and that’s because lay persons are the normative ministers of the church. Ministry does not happen without lay persons. This doesn’t minimize the ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, but it does make clear that the laity are the primary ministers of the church.
How do you minister as a lay person in the church? Are you a lector or a chalice bearer? Do you teach Sunday School or serve on the vestry of your church?
Whatever way you do ministry in your church, please know that your ministry is important.
Likewise, you may find yourself called to ministry outside of the church. Perhaps you are involved in ministry to the homeless or the hungry? Maybe you help out at a local Laundry Love? Or give of your time as a hospital volunteer?
Whatever you do within the church or out in the world that shares the love of God with others is ministry. Never underestimate the value of your presence and, indeed, the presence of God in you as you engage in ministry. Your ministry changes the world and the world desperately needs you. If you find yourself wanting to do more, to engage in ministry more, speak with the clergy in your congregation. Perhaps there is a ministry God is calling you to right now. You will never know unless you give it a try.
God bless you and all those who minister in God’s holy church.
Read more about the LA Diocese’s Bishop’s Office here.