35 an email to Pastor (a few days before I told him about my spiritual growth)
Date: Thu, Jan 22
Subject: Feeding our Church Family, 22 Jan
Hi Pastor, I write allot these days…it is a good dumping of my brain on to “paper”.. Sometimes essays, sometimes random thoughts…
I hope to share some with you sometime..
This one I wanted to share today…with you, and perhaps I will share with council of ministries folks…either individually or collectively, to say thank you.
I have been thinking about the stewardship meeting I crashed earlier this week, the VBS meeting, and the council of ministries meeting next week… and how I wish to encourage our church and ministry leadership…as I have been blessed to have a supportive church family and wish all people could feel the closeness and love that I do.
So this essay is called:
Feeding our Church Family, 22 Jan
A friend of mine is struggling… has no church family – lost/tossed away her religion years ago and has been shaken by multiple stressful situations lately, with very few people to turn to… So, through all this, I am reminded how blessed I am that I have my immediate and extended family, my friends, and I ALSO have a wonderful church family. I have amazing supportive friends at work – and the most loving supportive family and friends… but my church family is where I can freely speak of God’s amazing work in my life and where I see and call out God working in others’ lives. I know it is tough for churches to keep track of everyone – but a strong network of support is the backbone (the safety net) of the church – that is Christians living in communal care of each other.
A different friend recently said she didn’t believe in God but kinda believed in Heaven and Hell – well, hmmm… – I know she is a good person and always “thinks good thoughts” when others are praying… it reminded me of a hypothetical depiction I once heard – where heaven and hell have the same things – there are tables heaping with plentiful food – and giant long chopsticks. In hell, the people are starving and hungry and can’t eat because they can’t get the long chopsticks filled with food to their own mouths. BUT, in heaven, the people sit at the tables of nourishing food and use the same long chopsticks…. but these heaven-dwellers and are super happy and well fed – because they share the food with each other – they use their long chopsticks across the table to feed the others – and they themselves are fed by others’ generous outreach.
Surely this generous outreach found in Heaven also pertains to our churches – to the communities which grow due to the purposeful nourishment of each other – to the church families who are actively involved in knowing each other’s business – not in a pushy nosy way but in a caring considerate way. This cross-table feeding of fellow churchgoers is not JUST exchanging pleasantries on a Sunday morning in collective worship – it includes partaking in the many opportunities to emotionally bond, nourish each other, and to explore living communally as Christians.
I am grateful for those in the church who are constantly sharing their God-given talents and spiritual gifts on both the small and large scale. I have witnessed and I appreciate when my family and I have been fed spiritually by our church family and I appreciate the opportunities we have had to use our God-given talents to share with others. When one does not feel fed by their church experience, they slip away… It is not a deliberate act of leaving – it is just a quiet slipping away… people get caught up in the hustle and bustle – they forget to come to the table to get fed – they think sometimes that they are all ready full and satisfied and forget that they should come back to the table anyway to talk, to pick up the chopsticks and feed others. So I praise and thank all of you church leaders, ministry leaders, and all those people in the middle who are feeding our church family members everyday – I appreciate both when the regular diners are fed and when our church family recognizes that occasional diner who is still hungry and intercedes before they leave the table and start to drift away…
A kitchen worker may set up the tables and then set out beautiful and scrumptious foods for dinner. The partakers in the feast will not only enjoy the meal but also appreciate that this wonderful dinner was available to them. They will tell their friends that they were fed at church not only on food but in friendship, kindness, and a sense of community – an outward sign of sharing God’s love.
A music leader sets out the tracks and the chords, the musicians follow the conductors lead – and when they come together and they feed off each other’s musical talents, the sound is harmonious and is bolstered by their mutual enthusiasm. Sometimes, there are subtle reminders by the music leader in between sections of the song – so that the musicians remember to keep on track or to move onto the next section… These quiet reminders are so important – and the end product is a beautiful song that holds together. Subtle and not so subtle reminders are also needed to stay on track with our faith journey – so that we stay true and become the best we can be. It takes our ministry leaders to remind us to move and be challenged in our faith – to grow and encourage others to grow… harmoniously…
Thank you, our community of church ministry leaders and workers alike. You set up the tables, and encourage the others to come eat…you provide opportunities for members to become effective as Christians and together we can be harmonious and spirit-led. You enable the continual growth of God’s love. Thank you.