Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — Hebrew 10....
Ah... the best-laid plans... Typically, when Rebekah takes a trip out-of-town, I use the opportunity to get huge amounts of work out of the way. Then, yesterday, I woke up with a head-cold that turned nasty in the evening. This morning I slept through my 6:15 alarm and would still be asleep if Scout hadn't intervened at 8:30, impatient for her walk.
It feels like - sometime during the night - someone snuck in the house and stuffed my entire head with around 3-lbs of tissue-paper. But, never fear (especially if you're an editor awaiting my work), I'm loaded up on coffee and DayQuil now; so who knows what will emerge from my caffeinated, rattled, numbed brain!
Yesterday church was, as always, good for me despite feeling unwell. There's a positive spirit at First Presbyterian of Brandon that's consistent, regardless of the occasion. Tim preached about how the way that we live in community can be a catalyst in our spiritual growth. Then all he had to do was to point back at the week we had just experienced together, a workshop in community defined by mutual care, love, prayer, support and encouragement.
"Community" was a good topic to speak about on a day when eleven new members were presented. Eight are regular early service attenders, including three young couples and a teenager. These folk all have long lives stretching ahead of them, and I honestly can't imagine how thy could possibly negotiate all that's bound to come along in any context other than Christian Community.
And I don't mean merely "joining a church." Joining a church is an important first step, but we have to be deliberate about investing ourselves in the day-to-day life of service and mission and fellowship, all the while pursuing a personal commitment to discipleship. The strength of First Presbyterian of Brandon is not in its raw numbers, but of a community built around the idea of following Jesus.
Our church is a great place to gather. But what really counts is what goes on Monday-Saturday, in our homes, at the workplace, in the grocery store, on the golf-course, as we eat together as a family or with friends, as we "do life," pouring everything through the filter of what it means to make the decision to follow Jesus.
Our church comprises around 550 disciples who worship as a body, who learn together, who serve and are served, who reach out into the world, and who look to one-another for strength and encouragement and accountability as we make this journey - always forward - through life.
Worship is an awesome experience mostly because of what goes on the rest of the week. It's not a bunch of members who show up Sunday mornings, it's a band of disciples who have been living the Gospel out loud all week long.
And that - new members at First Presbyterian - is what you've got yourselves into!