Around this time of year, our Carol and Crusader Choirs generally begin some intense work on their spring musical: this year, it is “Oh, Jonah.” Most of you know the story of Jonah attempting to avoid the (unpleasant) assignment that God has given him. Poor Jonah! – he ran away. Let’s admit it, would any of us have jumped at the “opportunity” to obey a command to preach hell-fire and brimstone in Ninevah, that den of iniquity? The story continues with Jonah’s attempted escape from God’s presence (an impossibility), and his being swallowed by a giant sea creature – God’s not-so-gentle reminder that, when called, we must accept the responsibility of delivering God’s message to others, often to people we would prefer to avoid entirely. Aren’t we lucky that most (if not all) of us have been spared the kind of blatant encounter with God that is described in the Jonah story. Our encounters are probably very subtle, and for this reason, we have to pay even greater attention to all the messages that God sends to us. So listen carefully, watch the world around you, and try to discern what God is calling you to do with your time, your energy, your talent, and your resources.

Speaking of taking responsibility, I would like to express my admiration for all of the church’s youth who took on the responsibility of serving as leaders of our morning worship service past Sunday. They succeeded in bringing several important messages to those who attended worship: we heard about welcome; doglike friendliness and devotion; acts that result from faith; and respect for, and acceptance of, others. Unlike the adults at River Road, the youth are not in a financially secure enough position to, say, pledge to a capital campaign. They cannot drive someone to church. Those who are under a certain age are not permitted to vote in a church business meeting. Instead, though, they took on their own responsibilities: they worked assiduously, many since September (when we started to learn the anthem “Welcome”), to give their own unique gifts to River Road Church. And everyone who attended worship expressed gratitude for the inspiration that our youth provided that morning.

May we all find our unique gifts, then take “responsibility” by wrapping them up, and then offering them up to be used in God’s service.