Yesterday morning, driving to church with the roof open and the windows down, I looked up through the sun-roof. The sky was beautiful - a clear blue - and the trees caught enough of the early morning light to appear translucent - as if they held a light of their own. Then, glancing through the side windows, I noticed the development along the street - shabby buildings, concrete parking lots, ugly telephone poles and power-lines.
It occurred to me, taking it all in, how wonderful God's creation is... and how far short of the mark our efforts tend to be in comparison.
When I arrived for Praise Band rehearsal our director, Don, asked me to open in prayer. I pointed out what I had observed on the way, and prayed that everything we were involved in that morning be an obvious partnership between us and God - because it's only when we invite the Creator of the Universe to guide our hands and to inspire our voices that we can move beyond the dull and unimaginative mess and into the realm of light.
Simply put - even our best efforts need the regenerative Spirit of God.
Worship was awesome, as per usual. Later, in the evening, Rebekah and I hosted the new class of elders for dinner. We always celebrate the completion of their eight weeks of training with a party at Maul Hall. There were around 20, including spouses and pastors.
I posed one simple question for everyone to answer. "Imagine it's Thanksgiving, and you have been asked to share what you are thankful for about this church. What would you say?"
All the testimonies were wonderful. But you know what I noticed? The one thing they all had in common? Everybody talked about what we are doing in terms of an ongoing partnership with God.
- "I'm grateful this is a church where people follow Jesus every day of the week..."
- "I'm grateful that I've found a place where I can use my gifts to serve..."
- "I'm grateful that my children know they have a home here..."
- "I'm grateful for the life that animates the whole body..."
- "I'm grateful that this is a place where everyone is still on a spiritual journey, that nobody acts like they've already arrived..."
- "I'm grateful that it feels like this church knows where it is going... And who it's going with..."
So, on this beautiful Monday morning, I truly am grateful to be part of a faith community where we pursue a living connection to the life-force that animates the entire creation, and that it's a spiritual home where we are still - constantly - learning about what it means to live as disciples.