What I’m reading today: Ephesians 1
When I returned to the area in which I was born and raised two weeks ago, I had the chance to re-connect with several friends that I hadn’t seen for years. I had a great time catching up.
Some of the friends with whom I reconnected were a bit surprised to hear that I was a pastor. They had known that my faith was deeply important to me growing up, but they assumed I would have pursued a career in politics – an area in which I was very active early in my life. “We thought you would end up in a place where the action was,” was the unspoken response I encountered on more than one occasion.
As I think about the attitude I felt projected, I couldn’t help but think: “I AM where the action is.” And if anyone has doubts about that, they would need to look no further than Paul’s blueprint for the church contained in today’s passage from Ephesians. There Paul makes it clear that the church is clearly the place where the action is.
“The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world,” Paul began. “The world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”
Every day I step onto the campus of our local church I am reminded just how true that sentiment is. For here is just a small list of the things I see happening because of our local church:
• 93 children growing in our pre-school
• 35 kids learning in the private middle school we host
• 40 young adults participating in our Youth Musical Theatre program
• Sunday school & Vacation Bible School programs that provide a solid foundation of spiritual formation
• A middle/senior high youth group that melds fellowship and service
• A vibrant choral program that joins people’s love of God and music
• Covenant groups that nurture the bonds of fellowship and inquiry
• A spiritual deepening group for those desiring more from their connection to God
• A women’s group for those over the age of 50 designed to support and encourage participants as they move into their next 50 years
• A retired men’s group that provides a forum for exploring the issues of the day
• A women’s lunch group that melds together fellowship, learning, and mission
• A group (New Beginnings) for folks below the age of 50 who are trying to make sense of their faith in the world.
• Folks working to support the APECA program that provides health and environmental training for the people of Peru
• Twenty 12-step groups helping individuals on their road to recovery from various addictions
• A Mommie and Me program that helps toddlers and parents strengthen their bonds
• Yoga groups that overcome the distinction between mind and body
• A “Coins for Cards” gift card program that helps meets the needs of those in economic distress in our community
• Food collection that benefits the West Valley Food Pantry
As I review this partial listing of events that grow out of the life of just one local church, I can sure see why Paul said the world is peripheral to the church – for it is clear that our local churches can be foundational places upon which our vision of the world is created.
On this holiday weekend when you take time to remember those who have sacrificed so much for our enjoyment of our freedom, I hope you’ll also take a moment and give thanks for all the ways our local churches have indeed become the means through which the spirit of Christ speaks and acts.
Til next time…