The Universal Substitute

There are people known as “universal donors”, which means that their blood type is so lacking in identifying marks that it will slip by and be accepted by any immune system it is introduced into.

In the church, I feel as though I am the universal donor at times – or more accurately the universal substitute.  Of course, if any volunteer teacher or advisor for the Religious Education program can’t make it or doesn’t show up, I step in and cover that class.  But in other areas of the church life, I may not be the ideal choice for many tasks, but in a pinch I get asked to deal with audiovisual, custodial, administrative, hospitality, and pastoral care.

And today was the second Sunday in a row where the minister of the day was late enough arriving that the lay celebrant was worried they would have to do the service without a minister.  Both times the celebrant (a different person each time) came to me with a “what will we do?”.  Someday, I may even be asked to step in and substitute for a minister last minute.

It’s all just part of my job.  Each time I round a corner in the building, I don’t know if I’ll need to clean up a mess, direct someone to the supplies they are looking for, greet and welcome a newcomer, help a child find their parent, tell a child not to run in the halls, step in to teach a class, comfort or listen to someone in distress, weigh in on a dilemma, or serve coffee.  There is the job I arrived ready to do, and then there are all the balls I catch as they fly in my general direction.

It mostly feels like juggling.  But every now and then it starts to feel like dodge ball – and that’s when I really need to toss those balls back to other folks.


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