We Are About Relationships
We’ve had a lot of babies born in this congregation lately! In case you haven’t been tracking them, we’ve had four in the past three weeks—Zoe Ssebulime, Selah Faulk, James Hill and Porter Fellows. Wow! Yay! It has been so much fun to run around to hospitals and to hold all these beautiful babies. It’s such a joyful thing for a congregation to celebrate new life in its midst.
As I’ve talked with some of the new parents (or veteran parents with new additions), they have really felt the love and care of this congregation. When the babies started to arrive, people in the congregation were asking me, “How can we help? Can I bring them a meal? What do they need?” Then some smart, tech-savvy people let us know that, as they say, “There’s an app for that.” They linked us up with websites where people could sign up on a meal calendar for these families. Last I heard, the meals were flowing and the families were feeling the love and support of the church.
Let me tell you another story. A couple of weeks ago one of our church members had surgery. Her husband had to work the evening after the procedure, and I asked her if she needed someone to come and sit with her for a few hours to make sure she was okay. After I talked with her I sent an email out to some the women who come regularly to the Friday morning Bible study, and right away one of them responded. She went to the hospital, drove her friend home and sat with her until late in the evening.
As you know, our congregation has a mission statement: “We are about relationships: with God, with one another and with God’s hurting world.” Over the past few weeks, I have seen that mission lived out over and over again. Watching people take care of each other, I can see how we are about relationships with one another. When there is a need, there are people who want to respond and help and care. We strive to be a congregation that is grounded in love, where people are known for who they really are and encouraged to be who God is calling them to be.
I long for every person in this congregation to have a place to belong and be known. If you don’t feel that you are growing in relationship with others in this church family, think about joining a small group—a Sunday School class, a Bible study, an early morning men’s group, a dinner group, the Companions group. Or, come and talk with me or another pastor about ways that you can connect spiritually and genuinely with others in this church family. It’s vital to who we are and who God calls us to be.
Last week, I was reading a book by Henri Nouwen and came across a phrase he used to describe the church: “a community of love.” As soon as I read it, I thought, “Yes. That’s who we are meant to be. That’s what the church offers the world.” In a world that is often competitive and individualistic and self-serving, the church can offer God’s alternative: a community of love. We don’t sell a product. We aren’t offering entertainment. We don’t offer programming and activities just to keep the kids busy. No, what we offer in the world is a community of love, a visible sign of God’s kingdom on earth. I see that in you, Christ UMC, every single day. And I thank God for you.