Our text this week includes Paul’s assertion that the church has everything it needs to be the church. That’s an amazing and powerful statement of faith. Too often, we spend time wishing – wishing we had more people or more resources or more volunteers or more activity. But what if, instead, we were simply thankful? Let’s be thankful for the gifts we have, for the people we have, for how they give of themselves and their resources and give thanks for the mission and witness that we are able to do week by week. Of course, we want to encourage more. But not because we are lacking. No, we encourage more because we don’t want anyone to miss out on the joy of being the body of Christ, the joy of serving, the joy of worship. We come from an attitude of abundance and not scarcity.
Psalm 40 could be used as a reminder that even when life is difficult, God is good. Sometimes we experience that abundant grace in surprising or even miraculous ways, but most of the time it comes through the generosity and caring of the community of faith around us. We are supported by one another. We are lifted up and rescued by one another.
This might be a time of testimony where stories of rescue can be shared, and gratitude offered for the times when you might have been pulled from “a desolate pit” by the kindness of a neighbor. Maybe it seems simple now, but it is a glimpse of the kin-dom at work among us. Let the stories be told of how gifts were used, gifts of hospitality and of prayer, gifts of service and leadership and teaching to give hope and knowledge and comfort. Maybe you could celebrate a specific area of ministry in the life of the church. Like Paul, you are claiming that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift and that Christ is at work among you, sustaining and strengthening. What a joy to be a part of a loving church.
How would you represent some of the gifts of the community in a visual way, as a worship center in the front of the congregation? What items might you include that speak of the abundance of grace within your church? What pictures might you show, and what events might you feature?
Let your songs be songs of praise and thanksgiving for all God has given, and for the call to be a part of this fellowship. Let your prayers be full of gratitude for service rendered, even as you acknowledge the needs all around you in your community and world.
This is also Human Relations Sunday, as we remember that we are called to See All the People. Does our church reflect the wider community around you? If not, how do you offer your gifts to the wider community? How do you include and invite?
We also remember the call of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this weekend. His witness and call remind us that the work of antiracism and civil rights is not yet done, and we need to be engaged in the transforming work of the gospel, even in our neighborhoods. Even here, we come not from fear or from lack, but from an abundance of grace that calls us into action to be a part of the creation of beloved community in which everyone is welcome, and everyone is honored. Let us celebrate the church we are and we are becoming.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.