I found myself unexpectedly among friends last night. On the way back from a preaching engagement in my hometown, my friend Billy invited me to stop by our college Wesley Foundation to help a group of alumni serve dinner to about 70 current students, this generation’s set of Wesley leaders.
The thing about volunteering at Wesley is that there’s no such thing as a cush job. The ethos of the place, instilled in us as students and still alive two decades later, says that if something needs doing, there should be multiple people lining up to get it done. Anyone without a job needs to find a job, or at least to keep one of the workers company.
I know people to whom that sounds like a twisted definition of a fun evening. Spend your time doing someone else’s chores for free? (Actually, we each chipped in some money to buy food so we could do it.) No thanks. The Broncos and Patriots are playing, and if the game’s no good, we’ve still got “Once Upon a Time” to watch.
But for me, none of those were as appealing as the chance to volunteer at Wesley. When we hang out with friends to play games or watch movies, we create memories that belong to those who were with us at the time. But when we work alongside people who love us in service to other people–no matter who those people are–we do more than share experience. We open the doors to those memories not only for ourselves, but for all who are present.
Work with friends is not about accomplishing a task, or at least not at its core. It is about creating something together that bears witness to the love among us. It is an act of praise, a joyful response to God, who gave us each other.