Posts Tagged ‘6-4-2017’

Happy Birthday Church 6-4-2017

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

At a testimonial dinner that I attended many people said some wonderful things about this special human being. This human being that we were talking about definitely has a dark side and a lot of rough edges. But for one night those things were put aside and we focused on what was right and good about him. For a few minutes today, on the birthday of the Church, Pentecost Sunday, I would like to focus on what is right and good about our Church. One of those right things is its ability to endure. Many of our Scripture lessons carry us back to the beginning of Church. The people who wrote and originally read those documents were first-generation Christians. They stood on the ground floor of a brand new institution. Like all newborn things, the Church was small and seemed so fragile. There was serious doubt among the membership whether the Church would survive. Its key leadership cowered behind closed door, thinking their cause was surely lost. However, many cultures and civilizations have come and gone, but the Church lives on. There is something reassuring about that. Personally, I find it comforting to belong to something that has stood the test of time. The Church is so solid that, for nearly two thousand years, it has outlasted the hostility of its foes and the stupidity at times of his friends and leadership. The church was here when we arrived on the scene and will remain long after we are gone no matter what ABC and CNN have to say. Another thing right with the Church is its record of ministry to human need. Without that, the ability to endure would be meaningless. Jesus measured the worth of all institutions not by their age, not by their size, but by their usefulness to people. He must surely apply the same test to his own Church. And though its score has been far from perfect, it does have an impressive record of service. You and I are so familiar with this that we often take it for granted. We seldom pause to appreciate what the church has accomplished throughout the centuries. It has provided the inspiration, the leadership, and in some cases, the money for much of the world’s charitable endeavor. For all its faults and failures, the Church has stood by the conviction that every person is sacred in the sight of God. That conviction has proven to be a revolutionary incentive. It has produced, and continues to produce, pressure for change, both in the world and in the Church. A final thought about what is right with the Church and I believe, most important of all. In the world, the Church stands as a constant reminder of God, It points the way to Christ, it calls us to be a community of faith, it offers forgiveness and healing. This is not one of the businesses of the Church, it is the main business of the Church. The Church’s primary purpose is bringing people into a redeeming relationship with God. On Pentecost 2017 we need to be reminded that the early Church was not a group of men and women naturally equipped to turn the world upside down. Most of them had little education, very little money and no political power. They were plain people in partnership with God, but that relationship changed their lives and enabled them to change their world. The Church is made up of people, that means it always has been and continues to be imperfect. But there is a life here that is more than mortal and a spirit that is more than human. God does not belong to the Church – the Church belongs to God. And when joined in partnership with God, powerful and unbelievable things can happen. I close: We have all criticized the Church and we will criticize it again. To love the Church is to have that responsibility, but today let us make a commitment to do our part, to be part of the solutions instead of just pointing a critical finger of judgment at the problems. Today, let us remember and celebrate what is good and right with the Church, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday Church.