Robin Murray is the pastor of Castlegar United Church.

Robin Murray is the pastor of Castlegar United Church.

FAITH: Greatness in service

Castlegar pastor Robin Murray talks about serving others

Submitted by Robin Murray, Castlegar United Church

What does it mean to be a great person? The followers of Jesus in ancient Roman Palestine assumed it meant being rich and powerful. But Jesus challenged their assumptions.

The Bible recalls many instances of Jesus teaching his followers that to be truly great, they should act as servants, rather than kings. Once, when he caught them arguing over which of them was the greatest, Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43-44)

Christians today take these words very seriously, and most try to live into this call to serve in some capacity in their lives. Service as a mark of greatness is not unique to Christianity, of course. Service is foundational to many other world religions and Indigenous cultures, such as the Sinixt, but it is definitely a common feature among people in most churches.

The United Church of Canada declares in our “New Creed” (adopted in 1968) that “We are called to be the church … to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil …” To serve others, be it through community food and garden programs, or volunteering in the Thrift Store, visiting in care homes, or marching in rallies for racial or environmental justice, folks at church generally have well-developed networks for connecting volunteers in the church with the needs of our community.

Often those networks extend across the country and around the world. “Organized religion” often gets frowned on in popular culture, but sometimes organization can be the key to getting work done. Our large, organized network in the United Church helps find opportunities and funding for people to follow their passions in service, while also vetting international charities, making sure they aren’t scams. Together we can do so much more than any of us could on our own.

If you are looking to make a positive difference in the world, churches are a great place for getting “plugged in” to ways you can help others. As a minister, I go to more funerals than most people do, and I have to agree with Jesus, the things people remember as “great” about someone, seldom have anything to do with power or money, and have everything to do with how they loved and cared for others, and how they helped make the world a better place.

Robin Murray is the pastor of Castlegar United Church.