My parents modeled for me what it meant to be a part of a faith community. I didn’t know they had taken the vows of membership, or that those vows were to support the church with their “prayers, presence, gifts and service.” But I definitely saw that lived out. From cleaning the church when it was our turn, to watching our family offering go in the plate, to filling our row every Sunday, to regularly remembering the pastor and the ministry of the church in our mealtime prayers, my parents modeled the vows they had taken.
That little church was my family, both literally and figuratively. I think I have told you before that my dad’s parents, my dad’s brother and his family, my dad’s sister and her family, as well as my mother’s mother were all a part of this community on Sunday morning. But there were other saints like a woman named Aldys and a young adult named Tami, as well as countless other saints who invested in my life. Some of them invested by caring for the building. Others invested by teaching me the songs of faith, creating a wonderful Sunday School, and making a fabulous Vacation Bible School experience. Still others invested in my life by praying for me and my family. And there were countless others who invested in my faith life in ways I will never know.
In Acts 2 the author describes the early church, full of the Spirit, saying, in part, “All who believed were together and had all things in common.” (verse 44) I have often just assumed that this meant they pooled their financial resources. But today I am wondering if it also has something to do with what I have described above. Having all things in common means we rely on one another to support the work of the church and invest in one another’s faith life. It means we care deeply about one another, and we care deeply about the collective ministry we share with a world who may not yet know Jesus.
Across the worldwide church this pandemic season has challenged our ability to “be together” and “hold all things in common.” You have had to be intentional in the new ways to engage more than passively watching along in the life of the church. But perhaps that’s not all that different than before. You have always had to make an intentional decision to engage beyond the Sunday morning worship experience. Remember the tear-off used each week to provide you concrete ways to engage more deeply in the life of the church?
When the people of the church invest in the life of the faith community, God’s Spirit works in that intentionality to strengthen the witness of the church. How have you been investing in the life of the church through the pandemic? Your consistent financial investment has blessed the work of the church. Our data about worship attendance tells us that a good number of you have invested in the life of the church by worshiping with us every week. How will you invest in the life of the church as we transition back into the building? We need to be the community that is together and holds all things in common. The strength of our witness to God in Jesus is in your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Your participation can come in large roles of leadership or important roles of service. You can serve by investing in the lives of children through Sunday School, VBS, Youth Group, etc. You can be present to the Crops for PROP ministry or the worship ministry. You can share your gifts for technology upgrades or maintenance of the facility or staffing expansion. There are so many ways to support and encourage our faith community.
Please do not wait for a personal invitation. Your participation and support and investment of time and energy and resources will be so critical as we strengthen our ministry through this time of transition. We are the church together!
Pastor Becky Jo