How long has your church been around? Tonight my home church celebrated 175 years of presence in our community. That’s a long time, and though I no longer attend there, I wanted to be at tonight’s dinner, because not only am I a part of her history, but she is definitely a part of mine.
I walked in the doors and immediately saw familiar faces from my past. As I stood waiting for my sister and brother-in-law to come up through the serving line, I greeted and hugged many who have been part of my spiritual journey. At this particular celebration, we were honored to have three stalwart staff members from the years of my youth — our former pastor, who served 31 years, our minister of education and minister of music. Each of these men and their wives played an instrumental role in my life, and I am so grateful for their service.
However, as the evening progressed, other familiar names kept coming up in relation to service in our church. Tears came to my eyes, as I remembered former Sunday School, Training Union and Mission teachers. People who just loved on a young girl and encouraged her in her call to ministry. Few of these were physically present, but their spirits remain in the lives of those they touched and influenced for the Kingdom.
Not all of our history is easy, and like any “family,” we have good times and bad. But for better or worse, we are still united in a common faith and work toward the same goal. Our church has a book called the Pillar and Ground that tells our story. It’s based off of a verse in 1 Timothy, chapter three:
If I am delayed, [Paul says to young Timothy] you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
As my mind went back through my life in this church, I could not help but thank God for those who laid the foundation of truth for me, which was based on God’s Word. I owe those saints a debt I can never repay, save in striving to live according to their example.
Your church may not be as old as my dear First Baptist, Murfreesboro, but know that influence for the Kingdom is not based on years as we know them, but on the eternal working of the Holy Spirit, as he takes the exercise of our gifts and produces fruit to His Glory.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)
This is the work of the Church. To God be the Glory.
Grace and Peace
Image: First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, TN, icon