A few weeks ago, we had a meeting here to discuss what our ‘vision’ of the church is. Before that meeting I had been doing a lot of thinking. I had been asking myself questions like ‘What is church supposed to be?’, ‘Why do I come to church?’, ‘Why do I bring my children to church?’ At the same time, I have been reading Henry Nowen’s book ‘A Spirituality of Living’, and thinking about the ideas he put forth of solitude, community, and ministry. So I picked up my bible to look for answers. I started in Acts and got to chapter 2, verse 42-47 and stopped. I had found my answer, and would like to share it with you.
Acts 2:42-47, NIV: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved.”
When I read that, I imagine men and women of amazing faith, men and women who loved God and who loved Christ. They would be still digesting what happened that Friday afternoon on the cross. They might sit in quiet contemplation of what had happened that Sunday. What kind of prayers would they be offering to Heaven? Would they be whispering in solemn reverence, crying out in desperation, or simply talking as if to an old friend?
I imagine them walking together to the table and breaking bread and drinking wine in Holy Communion with each other and with their Lord. I can see them over dinner, discussing how best each man could serve in continuing Christ’s ministry. Listening to each other. Supporting each other.
And at the very center of this new community of believers…what held it together…was love. Love of the risen Christ, love for the Almighty Father who sent his only son to suffer and die for them, and love for one another. And yet there had to be something else. Something very important. Trust. Trust that the person sitting next to you, breaking bread with you, was just as committed as you were. You trusted that they loved Jesus just as much as you did. Because if that was the case, then Jesus was there, and his ministry was living on through you. He was there 2000 years ago, and he is here with us today. Right now. Just as strong, just as loving, but expects just as much from us today as he did back then.
I have been asked to share with you my vision of the church, what I see. I know that next Sunday is Commitment Sunday, and there will be a lot of talk about gifts. Gifts of time, money, and talents. Now don’t misunderstand me, those things are vital to our church and to our ministry. But I think tha the first gift you must give is that of your trust. You must trust that I love Jesus just as much as you do, and that Christ love you and I as much as he loved those first disciples. For that is what we are. Disciples of Christ, carrying on his ministry. So if you really want to know what I see, I see before me a congregation full of beautiful, loved, children of God, with incredible potential to affect this world in a way that we just can’t do on our own.
Thank you and God Bless