Last Sunday I shared a story from a news video of a Milwaukee bus driver stopping to save a toddler on a freezing overpass, which I saw as a parable of how God sometimes works in the world through those who are paying attention to the needs of the world around them.
At the end of sharing this story, I noted that this was the ninth such incident in Milwaukee in which a child was saved by Milwaukee city employees. It got me thinking about ways of being the church in the world. I used to think of the church as the bus and the pastor as the bus driver. As bus driver, my job is to get everybody on board our bus and make sure they get to where we are going. Because it is on our route, and we are only responsible for the people who get on our bus, no need to worry about others because there are plenty of other buses and modes of transportation.
But after this video, I’m thinking about the church NOT as the bus and me as the bus driver. I think of the church as being the bus driver, focusing our attention on where Jesus is leading us into the world, and our job as the bus driver is to PAY ATTENTION. Not only to those on our bus, but to those in need outside of our daily routine and usual route. And, like the Milwaukee bus driver, be ready to step outside the bus, face oncoming traffic and reach those in need and help them.
I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians this week, and as part of worship, we’ll be reading 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, in which Paul writes about the gifts given by the Holy Spirit. He finishes in verse 11 by saying that the gifts are given by the Spirit to be used for the common good…the good of all, not just for some, but for all. The church is called, equipped, and sent out by God to be attentive like the Milwaukee bus driver was, to pay attention to everybody: those outside as well as inside. Not just US.
Come to worship this Sunday and let’s see where the Spirit leads us to steer the bus next. Thanks for entertaining some new ways of being the church!
Wherever God leads you, I hope you remember how very much you are loved and that you are able to see glimpses of God’s presence in the least expected circumstances.
Monday night the Worship Team spent time evaluating our worshipful experiences through Advent and Christmas, including Sunday’s Epiphany celebration. Among the critiques, evaluations, reflections and suggestions we were able to affirm that God is truly faithful to us as we gathered to worship!
Highlights included: all the amazing music from the choir, member and guest musicians, and the Band; the still-inspiring children’s Christmas pageant with all of the energy and creativity of adults, families and children alike (who want to not be named, but who need to know our gratitude for their gifts!), the beautiful Cantata, candlelight and Silent Night, fellowship and Advent activities, and many opportunities for reaching out with food, gifts of food, time, service, sharing, yummy treats and beautiful decorations and heartfelt praise. Each highlight reminded us and teaches us still that we are blessed and loved by God who is faithful in all things, especially the holy chaos that is the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons!
As we continue in the season of Epiphany, which focuses on the light of God that entered the world in the person of Jesus Christ, our eyes are still drawn to that light, and it is the light of Christ’s love that enables us to see hope and possibilities that God places before, around and among us.
This week in worship, we will celebrate the Baptism of The Lord with a renewal of Baptism and the sacrament of The Lord’s Supper. The lessons of Scripture for this Sunday are: Isaiah 43:1-7, containing words of promise and assurance from God through the writings of Isaiah; and Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, in which Luke gives an account of John’s ministry of baptism, and the extraordinary circumstances at Jesus’ baptism.
Wherever God leads you, I hope you remember how very much you are loved, and that you are able to see glimpses of God’s presence in the least expected circumstances. Continue to be the church!
Pastor Chuck Goodman has been pastor at Hope for nearly ten years. He writes each week about what's on his mind, giving readers something to meditate on until and beyond Sunday.