The scripture readings appointed for the month of February, before we begin our Lenten journey in March, focus our attention on the church, the community of God’s people. The gospel readings in Matthew are from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount about what it means to be a citizen of God’s kingdom, and the Epistle readings from 1 Corinthians give us a glimpse of the early church finding its way as a diverse congregation amid a culture hostile to the gospel of Christ.
These readings invite us to consider how we, as a congregation, embody the Christian faith both when we gather for worship, study and fellowship, and when we are sent to our various places of home, work, school and service.
Thinking about church as community, I have recognized the irony of the church being closed much of this week due to snow, ice and yesterday’s power outage! Only a very few of us – a couple of pastors and the custodial team - have inhabited the buildings which are usually a beehive of activity. But the quiet has also been a blessing – a time to pray and ponder the kind of Christian community God is continuing to call us to be. A day with no power, no computer access, no email, no cell phone coverage or phone calls became a beautiful pause to heed the Psalmist’s invitation:
Be still and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
This Sunday, BMPC will grow a little with the reception of new members, always a celebration of Christian hospitality. I am fond of saying that when we receive new members God is making of this old congregation a new church. It’s true because of the unique gifts and needs each new member brings. As the church grows, I am also glad that some things do not change when it comes to being the church. Namely our testimony that God is God, and God is with us.