Hope Fellowship

Five Reflections on Missing Church

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Five Reflections on Missing Church

The garage door went up and out went our minivan. For the first time in nearly 8 years, I wasn’t going to church. I was scheduled to preach, but stomach issues laid me low, so home I sat (providentially with an internet outage to remove the temptation of NFL Countdown).

To make the morning even more strange, Jon Trott, one of our other pastors, and Ken Kelley who has been a part of the church since it started, were also out of town. So December 30, 2018 marks the first time in our history as a church we were all gone on the same Sunday! 

Here are five reflections on this very unusual Sunday morning:

Healthy church leadership shines in times like this.  

One of our elders, Anthony Gosling, volunteered to preach on very short notice so I could recover. I was in that weird in-between world of “I think I can do it” and “I can’t even get out of bed.” He jumped in, said he would preach and I rested easy. Listen to his sermon here.

God is sovereign. 

I thought I would be preaching the last of our series “O Little Town of Bethlehem” on John 6, “I am the bread of life” connecting Bethlehem (which means house of bread) and how we need Jesus as the bread of life. God knew otherwise and allowed me to be encouraged by John 6 while Anthony to preached a message from Proverbs 3:5,6 to bless our congregation. 

The church is more than her leaders. 

Nearly 8 years ago when we started, this kind of a morning would have seemed impossible. The logistics of getting a worship center set up would have ground to a halt without the three of us there. There was not a multiplicity of elders to call on to preach. I don’t know what we would have done, but I’m thankful that God has given me (and Jon and Ken) health during these formative years, and also that God has raised up the body of Christ and is equipping them for good works. The good works are more than setting up and tearing down— it is connecting with one another, building up the body through encouragement, prayer, preaching, singing, children’s ministry, and the host of other things that happen on a Sunday morning. And our church excels in these works.

Good health is a gift. 

We are always on the cusp of complete weakness whether we realize it or not; on Friday morning I’m out running and by the evening I’m in bed flat on my back. A stomach bug is humiliating and exhausting and makes the most menial tasks seem like a mountain to climb. I should be more thankful and aware of God’s gift of health when I have it.

Life goes on without me. 

I genuinely enjoy preaching and count it a privilege to be allowed to study each week and stand up and communicate God’s Word. But it’s not about me— it’s about God and his work through His Spirit as His Word is proclaimed. At some point I’m going to preach the last sermon I will ever preach, and I probably won’t realize it at the time just like I don’t remember changing the last diaper or tying the last shoe. And though I will preach my last sermon, the Word of God will still be proclaimed until the Lord returns. 

I expected to preach this morning, but God had other plans. I expect to start our next sermon series in a few weeks and expect to finish it— but the Lord may continue to surprise. And like a snowy morning, the last Sunday in 2018 when I missed church, His plans are always best.

 

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