When we baptize someone in my tradition, we always welcome them with these words:
"We welcome you into the body of Christ and into the mission we share: join us in giving thanks and praise to God and bearing God's creative and redeeming word to all the world."
I wonder if very many people notice those two words: creative and redeeming.
At church, we spend so much time on the redeeming side. Church is about "getting right with God." Or, especially if you're Lutheran, it's about being made right with God. It's not our work, but a total gift. We all have a special responsibility to make this known in the world.
But there's that other word, "Creative." We are called to bear God's creative word to all the world too. And this is everything we do to keep the world going, to make the world more just, to heal divisions, to teach, to repair, to do our work, and raise our children, to be good neighbors. As much as preaching or praying or handing out tracts (if that is your method of testimony), this is God's work too.
A rather local well-known preacher* told his congregation that it was best if they gave their tithes only to his church, or other mission -type endeavors. In the end, he said, making sure that the name of Jesus Christ is known is the only important work. So your gifts to Bread for the World, for Habitat for Humanity, your endeavors to dig wells in Africa: that's not really God's work like (for example) preaching the gospel.
But that's not what we believe. We are called to bear God's creative and redeeming word to all the world. In fact, it is because we know that heaven is a gift freely given that we are able to entirely commit ourselves to the good of our neighbor, without worrying about our souls. Our daily work, in the fields, in the factories, in the family -- this too is God's work: God's creative work.
We welcome you into the body of Christ and into the mission we share: join us in giving thanks and praise to God and bearing God's creative and redeeming word to all the world.
*Pastor Mac Hammond