“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Sometimes I am struck by the different ways we talk about the church. In November we gather for our annual meeting, and by necessity, we speak of elections, budgets, and constitutional requirements. But that portion of being the church is only there to support our true purpose of sharing the blessings of Jesus’ love with a world in need. Our congregation’s mission statement claims that we are: “A family in faith, reaching out to share God’s love with all people.” This seems much closer to Paul’s description of ministry than elections, budgets and constitutions.
The business of the annual meeting is important, but we must never confuse the organizational necessities with the ministry imperatives. What Paul describes to the Thessalonians is a good description of what we should be doing. Notice that our ministry begins with compassion: “so deeply do we care for you”. That needs to be a hallmark of every gathering and every encounter we have with each other, and with every neighbor and newcomer who crosses our path. We need to be known as a people who care deeply about others. That means going out of our way to introduce ourselves, invite others to share in our worship, and include others in our fellowship. It means creating opportunities to gather, whether that be for worship, Bible Study, service in the community, or just to have fun together.
Then, as we share of ourselves, we also share the Good News of Jesus’ love. God has put us here for the purpose of sharing the blessings that we have first been given. We can reach out to bless. We can speak the words of forgiveness and compassion. We can hold up the needs of others in our prayers, and simply be a presence of God’s grace in a fearful world. Our ministry begins with Jesus, who said: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34b-35)
NEW MEMBER RECEPTION–SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23RD ELC will be welcoming anyone interested in becoming members of ELC on Sunday, November 23rd. New member orientation sessions will take place on three consecutive Wednesdays, November 5th, 12th, and 19th, in the Fellowship Hall following the potluck supper. If you, or someone you know, is interested in pursuing membership, please contact Pastor John or the church office.