Letís Celebrate Our Church!
November 11, 2007
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our title and our topic today is this: Letís celebrate our church! My dear friends, I would like to lift up a bit of scripture for you. Itís from todayís reading in the epistle, that final paragraph, starting at verse 16. St. Paul says to the people at the church of Thessalonica:
ďNow may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God the Father, who loved us and through grace [thatís divine love] gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.Ē This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Friends, how would we ever know about the comfort of God, how would we ever know about the hope of God, how would we ever know about the love of God, if it werenít for this precious family that we call the church? What Iíd like us to do today, my friends, is simply think with each other and talk with each other about celebrating our church.
It seems to me that there are at least three reasons why we should give thanks to God today for our church, for this church. This is a good and great congregation. I am so privileged to share it with you and to be here with you. Iíd like to lift up three reasons why I think we should celebrate our church.
First of all, this is the place where God comes first. This is the place where God is first in our lives. We may belong to different organizations that do enjoyable things, that do charitable things, perhaps, but what other organization is there in our lives that says God is first? The cross that is over our sanctuary and that is in our tower is a good symbol of that. The cross is over us when weíre in worship; when weíre celebrating Holy Communion. The cross is over us at the rummage sale. The cross is over us if thereís a dinner here. The cross is over us if thereís singing in a movie. No matter what, we never hide the cross of Jesus Christ. God is first and foremost here at church. This is the place that week after week we get to praise God. This is the place where our children learn about God. The church is the place where we can worship God. I think we ought to give thanks for that.
Secondly, the church is the place where we can reach out to other people and help them. I am so proud of the women of the Crawford House. This is a special place down the road from church where women who are in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction get to stay as they develop in the recovery process. They come to the early service here at our church. These are the victorious women. These are women who are putting their lives back together. These are women who are realizing that they are somebody; they are important to God. They are coming here to be spiritually refreshed. I am delighted that they are. And I am delighted that this congregation provides such a welcome to them. I thank God for this congregation, because this is a church that reaches out. I thank God for that.
I thank God that this church reaches out through a ministry called Visions of Hope. We broadcast our sermons over the internet. Did you know that there is a man in Sierra Leone, Africa, who worships with us every week because of his connection over Visions of Hope? He writes to me almost every week. I believe his sister is here today. Good morning. Itís so good to see you. Please send Amadu our personal regards. All the way to Sierra Leone, Africa, our church is connected. One of our members lives in Boston, and she goes to church here, too, via the internet. Our church is reaching out to so many, and she sees to it, as our editor of Visions of Hope, that others throughout the nation are participating with us, too. I give thanks to God for this church, because through the church, we can reach out to others and help other people.
I give thanks to God for this church, because God is first; because we can reach out; and because this church is a place that we can call home. Iím hoping that each one of you in some special way would think of Montgomery United Methodist Church as your church home. Maybe youíre brand new with us today. Maybe youíve been with us for many years. Or maybe youíre somewhere in between. But this is a place that you can call home. I am deeply privileged to say that this is my home church right now. And I have a question for you Ė by a show of hands, can you tell me how many of you here today were born and grew up and lived most of your life in this immediate Belle Mead/Hillsborough/Montgomery area? We have a few, but the vast majority of us are travelers. The vast majority have come from other places. And hereís the good news: this is the inn, and there is room at the inn. There is room for each and every one of you to call this your church home.
I want to say a special word of gratitude to you for the celebrations of the last few weeks and for your hospitality and your blessing. I also want to say a personal word of gratitude for the blessing that this church family is to my wonderful godson, Dylan. He has grown up in this church! And he is a fellow of solid faith, thanks to this church family, thanks to our Sunday School, thanks to your love and your welcome, and I am profoundly grateful.
I was talking to our organist, Dr. Bell, who said something similar about her own son, who has grown up in this church and who is also a person of faith and who holds vigorous debates with non-believers about the importance of believing in God and realizing that God is the creator. You provide a home here. It is a good home. It is a great church.
And so, my dear friends, I invite you to celebrate our church together. I invite you to thank God for this church. It is Godís gift. It is the place where God is first. It is the place where we can reach out to others. And it is the place that we can call home. It is here because God loves us. God loves you, and I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski