The Call to Simple Community
Yesterday we worshipped in our new home in the historic Brandon United Methodist Church building at 118 Mason Street. Being built 111 years ago, I am reminded of the call to continue a legacy of presence in a community. What do I mean? In our day, we can travel anywhere in the world—literally and technologically. We can communicate with a myriad of people around the globe—at the same time. These are great advances in technology and that push the human imagination. In all of these measures of progress, what often gets lost is the fact that I can ever and always only be “here”—in the place I stand or sit or lay down.
Our work as a church is a great gift and calling to be fully present here in our community. While we can celebrate advancements, our call is to open our eyes and see people in front of us—that we can touch and serve here. What a gift God has given us to be a presence in a community. As we love one another, our neighbors will be able to see the Gospel of forgiveness, mercy, and grace. As the bell rings tomorrow and we worship together, we are inviting our new neighbors to join us—those who believe and those who do not. Our call is to love and to sing and to pray and to preach and to receive. We are not called to flip the community upside down. Rather, we are called to the simplicity of service. Opening our eyes to the amazing people around us, seeing how we can love them, and enfolding them into our lives (and us into theirs). God does the work that he deems necessary and most honoring to him.
Along with this call to be here comes the reality that I can only be here “now.” Our brothers and sisters who built the sanctuary and loved their neighbors over three generations ago were faithful in their time. We are called to do the same in our time. We celebrate the past and look forward to a glorious future. But now we labor and love. We work as long as there is daylight. We long for the day of our Redeemer’s return…but we diligently work to love our neighbors now. While it is today, we call men and women and children to know and love Jesus. We invite them. We draw near to them. Now.
May the day we celebrate tomorrow. The chapter we begin to write tomorrow be filled with rich opportunities to know, love, and serve our community. Here. Now.