Where Can I Put This Brick?

The Parable of the Bricklayers:
A woman had just moved to a new town and one Saturday on a walk, she came across a construction site.  It was in the early stages, when you can’t really tell what it’s going to be.  She approached one of the builders:
“Excuse me, what are you building?”  
The bricklayer replied: “I don’t know.  Just putting one brick on top of another.”
She moved on to another bricklayer down a ways.  "Excuse me, what are you building?”
This builder said: "Working on this wall.  It’ll be a big wall.  Tall.  Nice looking.”
She moved on to a third.  “Excuse me, what are you building?”  
This bricklayer stopped and looked her in the eye.  “I’m not building anything.  We are building something together.”
A little annoyed, she said, “That’s not what I meant.  What are you all building?”
“We’re building a place where people can finally hear some good news.  Where wrong things are made right.  Where people find hope for a future that never fades.  And never fails.”
Still seeking a straight answer, the woman asked once more: “That sounds great, but what exactly are you building?”
He smiled and handed her a brick: “Here,” he said, “Instead of talking about it, you can be part of it.  Find a place to put this brick.”

In a year of unprecedented change, the people of the Church are entering an exciting season.  It's a season for us to recognize the "bricks" God has given each of us.  These bricks could be our unique skills or gifts, or they could also be the invitations and opportunities we have to simply say "yes" and get involved.  The key to keep in mind is that you matter to God's mission.  Because:

God's purpose is fulfilled through
God's people, so that
God's light shines in the darkness.

Nehemiah 3 isn't exactly a chapter you'll find in your verse-a-day calendar.  It's a list of the people and tasks of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem after it had been destroyed in the exile (during the 6th century BC).  I'd invite you to read the whole chapter alongside the map I've provided below, to get a feel for the immensity and specificity of the task!

We can derive at least two key principles from this chapter:

1) When God's purpose is fulfilled through God's people,
we set aside our preferences for the sake of the mission

All kinds of people got involved!  Priests, goldsmiths, perfumers, civic rulers.  The people were willing to step aside from their "comfort zones" when they saw an opportunity to get involved in a larger work God was doing amongst all the people.  
The Church has a similar opportunity now.  You may find a niche in the Church's ministries that is custom tailored to you...but you may not.  Will you see that as an excuse to stay on the sidelines, or will you set aside your personal niche and creatively say "yes" to what God is inviting you to be part of?

2) When God's purpose is fulfilled through God's people,
we transcend divisions for the sake of the mission.

Besides vocational differences, the people in Neh. 3 also overcame geographic, gender, and status divisions.  Today, there's no shortage of differences which the Church is called to overcome in the name of unity in God's work.  Age, vocation, church affiliation, politics, language, ethnicity -- God is bigger than any of our boundaries, but we have to say "yes" to moving beyond those divisions if we want to be part of God's larger work.

Just as Nehemiah's wall had specific places for people to get involved, so it is at UPPC.  We call these UPPC Ministry teams

- Worship
The first and best way to “put your brick here” is to attend!  
YOUR PRESENCE MATTERS. It’s the most valuable thing.  It is so joyful, even emotional, to see people back in our space, and to read your comments online.  
YOU are a gift, not just what you can do.  
And some of you will be inclined to serve, too, in this area through music, audio and visual tech, helping prepare the sacraments, being a steward of the sanctuary, and so on.

- Welcome & Connect
If you’ve ever been greeted on a Sunday morning, received a phone call after a visit, been to a pancake breakfast or a kick-off festival, that’s Welcome & Connect.  If you’ve been through Alpha, that’s Welcome & Connect.  If you’ve taken Essentials and become a member, that’s Welcome & Connect.  And that ministry isn’t just run by staff; it’s run by members and friends too!

- Discipleship
This ministry includes so many ways to learn and grow in your faith and practice.  Bible Studies, classes on prayer, Couples ministry, Men’s and Women’s groups, Small Groups, and more.  If you’re visiting for the first time or a lifetime member, there is a place for you to “put your brick” in adult discipleship.

- Care
Visitation teams, hospital visits, healing services, memorial services, Divorce Recovery, the Compassion Fatigue workshop -- these are all expressions of our Care ministry.
This is an area I especially want to emphasize, especially in the era of quarantine -- the PRAYER CHAIN.  Right now there about 100 people who receive emails every week about how they can actively pray for people in our community.  100.  Pretty good, right?  But there are hundreds more active members of this church.  What if the prayer chain grew from 100 to 200?  300?  Is it possible that interceding in prayer each week is the place God is calling you to “place your brick” in his ministry?  

- Outreach
Local outreach work includes our partnership with Families Unlimited Network, Habitat for Humanity, Coffee Oasis, and more.  International outreach includes our work with Meru Kenya and our partnership in Suzhou, China.  And of course there’s the outreach ministry to refugees and asylees who have arrived in the Tacoma area and are ready to experience the love of Jesus.  There are lots of places to put your brick in Outreach ministries.

- Youth & Children
Solid Ground on Sundays; Campfire, Foundation, the Rock, and Cornerstone on Wednesdays.  And of course Sunset Christian Preschool all week long.  Retreats, camps, hikes, events, small groups, mentorships...we love kids at UPPC, and God has given every single child and youth here a brick as well.  There are lots of places they can put them.

- Operations
About a year ago, there was a broken thermostat in one of our offices, and Paul Flom appeared one day, like a wizard, and bam!  It was fixed.  Another time a friend from Seattle came all the way down here for several days to help us with landscaping work!  
Much of what God is doing through UPPC is supported by nuts and bolts -- literally -- and many of you have gifts in facilities that can be an excellent place to put the brick God has given you.  Sometimes it might even involve actual bricks, who knows?

Friends, there is good news today.  God is on the throne!  God is on the move in our community!  God is on the move in your life!  And God’s purpose is fulfilled through God’s people, so God’s light shines in the darkness.  
Each of you holds a brick, right now, in your hand.  God might be calling you to attend a class, or try a group.  God might be calling you to stop just attending a group and challenge yourself into leadership.  There are so many places you can put your brick into this reconstruction project.  
So many places, but only one question:
Where are you going to put yours?

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