Widows Ministry 2011

This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to begin Spring Break by participating in Widows Ministry. Each spring, Erskine students who are part of the Barn join Bill May in his constant efforts to care for widows and widowers who live in the areas near Erskine. Years ago, Bill’s grandfather modeled true religion for his grandson when he took Bill with him to work on various projects for the numerous widows who called on him when they needed help. After the death of his father and grandfather, Bill took up the work that they had begun, and in recent years he has even begun to invite college students to join him in caring for these wonderful friends.
Enjoying some of Mr. Jackson's delicious pound cake
During the week, we Erskine students were blessed to get to know numerous different widows and widowers, visiting with them and hearing their stories. As young people, we so often forget to take the time to learn from and spend time with the elderly; and in doing so, we both neglect what James calls “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless” and forfeit a wonderful opportunity to learn Gardening for Mr. Winkler from those older and wiser than we are. Friends and I were incredibly blessed, for example, by the bubbling cheerfulness and sweet spirit of Mrs. Sadie, who enjoyed watching a couple of us play the Joseph and Maggie playing for Mrs. Sadie piano and thanked us heartily for taking the time to come see her. We also enjoyed a pound cake made by one ninety-two year old widower while we listened to fascinating stories about his life and experiences as a black man living through the Civil Rights Movement.

We were also able to undertake various tasks, such as clear-coating a ramp and pruning bushes. And in between our visits, of course, we enjoyed what Bill wisely said everyone loves—food and fellowship! One of the greatest things about Widows Ministry is that the relationships we established over the past few days are ones which we can continue to cultivate during the school year as we seek to live out James 1:27. This video might give you an idea of some of what the week was like.

Made to…Work?

Whew! It’s been one of those weeks here at Erskine. No, exams have not yet arrived…but, yes, if you were to have observed the daily doings of an Erskine student this week, you would likely have seen some sleep-wearied eyes and have heard an incoherent mumble or two regarding a deluge of tests and papers. Not that tests and papers are a bad thing…they are, of course, tools vital to the andragogical learning experience that is college. But when these glimmering opportunities to demonstrate how much knowledge we students have eagerly soaked up during the previous weeks arrive all at once…well, let’s just say that that all-too-necessary necessity, sleep, is greatly missed.

When one looks back upon such a week, however, the leisure time which one often takes for granted becomes a gratefully-welcomed blessing; and the opportunity to simply clean, rest, and hang out with friends is extraordinarily satisfying. Incidentally, the subjects of calling and work have come to mind often this week.

You see, in the midst of my writing of papers and preparing for tests, I listened to a podcast titled “What Are People For?” (which is free on iTunes, by the way) in which Briton Wood, the RUF leader at USC, examines our calling as human beings in light of Genesis 1. He made the striking point that work, in the creation account, is not a result of the Fall. Instead, Adam and Eve were given the task of tending the garden while they were in perfect communion with God! Certainly, our work and our ability to work well are today tainted by the consequences of the Fall. Even so, an understanding of work as the good purpose for which God made us ought to change the way we in which view whatever work God called us to.

I love these words of Martin Luther’s on the topic of work: “The world does not consider labor a blessing, therefore it flees and hates it, but the pious who fear the Lord, labor with a ready and cheerful heart; for they know God’s command and will, they acknowledge His calling.” A Biblically-shaped view of work, then, ought to transform our approach to our daily labor from the performance of some dreadful, obligatory drudgery which must be completed in order to reach the weekend into the excited, joyful living-out of our calling. Such an approach to work is only possible when we view work as God’s good gift, given to us that we may glorify Him through it…realizing that by doing so, we are living as He made us to live. Which, though not the easiest way to live, is unfailingly the best.