Last Sunday in church many of our little ones (meaning three and under) were an integral part of our worship service. They collected the offering (with a little help). Some took it very seriously, and others thought it was just plain fun. The whole collection process was a little unorganized. Our little ushers didn't always stay together. After taking the offerng they walked up front and kind of meandered around while we all sang the doxology. While Chris was praying, one of them repeated part of his prayer: "We give back a portion of all that You have given to us."
Our offering was beautifully chaotic; however, our little ushers have shown us something significant. They loved taking part in our worship service. They certainly had joy. Each of us can find joy as well in serving the Lord. He has given us all gifts so that we can all be vital in the life of the church. We can serve together. Here at First Baptist we are learning the church is made up of people living out our faith together in the good times and the challenging times.
A couple weeks ago Chris (the love of my life) and I were talking about a coffee mug. I had given it to Chris for Christmas years ago. At least three or so. It was a big mug (like Gilmore Girls but tall), and I found it at a pottery store (so it kept the coffee warmer). It was his favorite mug, and we love coffee. I'm sure that will be a topic for another day. We had a discussion about how it had been such a good mug. Well about a week ago it bit the dust. I heard Chris say, "uh-oh," after the handle on his favorite mug cracked. It no longer was usable.
You may be wondering why I spent so long writing about this mug. I want to point out that we become attached to stuff. It can be valuable (in the eye of an antique dealer or the beholder). We form emotional attachments to things without realizing it. The First Baptist Church building had been around for many years. There are so many memories wrapped up in the building and some of the stuff in the building. In moments like these I reflect on when Jesus said: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19-20 NIV).
It's easy right now to be caught up in the past with our memories, but this small reminder from Jesus helps us to remember that we can look to the future with hope. Maybe I'll find a new favorite mug for Chris, and in the future we will have a new building in which we can gather together and worship God.
We all know that Jesus said these words. Communion is all about remembering. Last Sunday we celebrated Communion for the first time since the fire. I'm sure we'll have a lot of firsts. Communion was the same as always, and it was different. It was the same, because we remembered Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross. We ate the bread and drank the juice. We had the same linen napkins, because someone brought them home to wash last month. It was different, because we used a different communion set (thanks to the Second Congregational Church and Gove Hill). Most of all, we were in a different place.
I'm not sure if other followers of Jesus remember specific instances of celebrating communion. I have a handful of times that I remember, and last Sunday will be of them. It was a little sad. I went to reach for the goblet and realized that I would have to raise a small cup instead. It just wasn't the same. And it hit me. We've lost our church building. We didn't cause it to happen though. Jesus, on the other hand, made a choice to give His life for us. He lost His life, so we could have life. I'm a little sad, but more than that, I'm so thankful for Jesus.
A few days ago I was walking up the hill past the church. I do that a lot since we live further up the hill, and we have to walk down the hill to the post office and credit union. Most everyone in town knows that not much was saved from the church after the fire. There I was walking, and a page from a hymnal was lying on the ground. I'm a curious person, so I picked it up. The hymn facing up was "God Will Take Care of You." The page has some burn marks, but I could read all the words. Please take the time to read through this hymn (see below).
I found this hymn to be most encouraging. God comforts us, when we need it most. The second half of the last verse I found particularly comforting. It says, "Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you." Wow. That's what God has been doing for the last month. God has been holding this congregation upon His breast, and I am so thankful.
God has been laying on my heart to write a blog for a while, and I believe He wanted me to do it as our congregation continues on this journey. Sometimes I'll write about living out our faith, and sometimes I'll write about plans for a new building. Whatever God seems to be laying on my heart, I'll write about it. My goal is to post weekly or bi-weekly as time allows. Feel free to comment or ask questions.
This is written by Kathleen Blackey, follower of Jesus and co-pastor at First Baptist Church.