“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This verse, which has sustained me through the years, is displayed in a watercolor in my home. As my spiritual journey has unfolded with many twists and turns along the way, I have reflected on these words and prayed about them often. On more than one occasion, I have asked, “Okay God, you may know the plans, but I don’t know the plans. So, what are they?”

Discovering our Spiritual Gifts and where God is calling us to use them in community is a process. It’s not something we decide once and for all and that’s it – forever and amen. The faithful Christian asks over and over again, “God, what is it that you really want me to do with my life at this time and in this place?” There is no question more vexing and perplexing.

As an active layperson in the pews for over 30 years, this was a question I struggled with and at times, stumbled over and even fell on top of. Why? Because when the Episcopal Church started teaching about lay ministry, I believed what they told me. Yet when I tried to be a lay minister in the church, I found it could be pretty difficult. And I became frustrated. What I didn’t realize was that much of what I was already doing was lay min-istry – at home, at work, and in church. I just didn’t recognize it for what it really was.

What is lay ministry? My answer does not come from one of the many books on the sub-ject, but from over 35 years of being in spiritual direction as both a lay and ordained minister and out of involvement in ministries both inside and outside the church. Here it is. Lay ministry occurs wherever and whenever you are using the gifts God has given you for the common good. Wherever and whenever – whether it’s at home, at work, at your child’s school, at church, even when you’re on vacation. That’s where lay ministry takes place.

Your Invite/Welcome/Connect Committee (formerly the Evangelism Committee) has adapted a Spiritual Gifts Assessment to help each one of you discern the particular gifts God has given to you. Last week each newcomer in our Bethesda 101 Class completed it, opening their eyes and hearts to where they might be called to become involved at Be-thesda, both to develop those gifts further and to use them for the greater good within our church family.

We would love for each and every one of you to take the Assessment as well. To access your copy on the Bethesda website, click here. Just print it and follow the instructions. Then if you have any questions, email April Lawrence at april@bbts.org or me at rankin@bbts.org. We’re here to help!

What plans does God have for you?

The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Rankin
Associate Priest