Listening Presence at Work
Updated: Jul 2
Welcome friends to the beautiful town of Staunton, Virginia. Today, I am having lunch with my friend and colleague, Sarah Hill at The Depot Grille.
Sarah and I serve in the same presbytery and co-chair a committee together. We have led many youth trips as well.
Sarah lives in Lexington and I live in Fishersville. Although, we do not work in the same building or in the same town, we do enjoy having lunch together.
Before her retirement, Sarah organized monthly lunch gatherings for female clergy which met at different restaurants in Staunton, including The Depot Grille. These lunch gatherings were filled with laughter and encouragement.
At work, we gather at many tables. During an average work week, numerous hours are spent around a table for meetings with colleagues. Unfortunately, limited time is spent with these same colleagues at lunch tables.
We need to gather around both tables with our co-workers. Often we find clarity and creativity after a meeting and during a meal because meals offer nourishment for the body, mind, and spirit.
Jesus ate a lot with others in his work and ministry. I believe we are called to do the same. The lunch table is a holy place where the breaking of bread reveals truth and grace.
Many years ago, at a lunch table, Sarah talked with me about her theater career. One day, she decided to take a job as an activities director at a retirement home. She incorporated a listening presence with the residents there and discovered her call in ministry.
Enjoy meeting Sarah and listening to her story of mission at work.
Sarah believes stories is at the heart of ministry. This is how Jesus led and how we should lead as well. Sarah was in theater for a long time. She decided to change professions, so she became an activities director at a retirement home. She thought the position was similar to theater, but she soon discovered the job as about making relationships.
They led activities to bring people comfort and happiness in the retirement home setting. One day, Sarah realized a simple truth. Since many people lived alone, all they needed was someone who would listen to them and hear them.
At this time in her life, Sarah was very active in her church. However, it was at work where she realized church was all about relationships. In the midst of the one-on-one conversations and activities with the residents, Sarah realized that she was also doing ministry.
The retirement home did not have a religious affiliation. On Sundays, a minister preached at a worship service, but he was not present during the week. Sarah witnessed the importance of ministry being a continual relationship. Ministry was about spending time with people in meaningful and spiritual ways on Sundays and during the week.
Sarah reminds us in our work to be attuned to what God is doing in our lives. When we are aware of God's presence, spiritually will naturally flow and connect us to one another. Sarah said,
"We do not have to be ministers, ordained ministers, to do any of that. In fact, most of church is not about the minister, rather we want to believe that or not. It is about the people who care for each other and listen to each other. You can often find that in the work situation. I certainly found it to be the case in mine."
About eight months after Sarah realized that ministry was about relationships, she attended seminary as a second career student. She is an ordained minister and encourages all of us to find ways to do ministry in every part of our life.
Take a simple step in mission this weekend by having lunch with a colleague and friend. Then see where God leads you to serve in the world.
After the recording Sarah's story, we joined the Rev. Ann Pettit for lunch at The Depot Grille, Staunton, Virginia.
Take care and blessings to you this day.