What does it mean to be a church? This is a question I often pose in my Friday letters, because it is the focusing question, which helps us to understand what it is that we are called to do and be as a congregation. Biblically and polity wise, our purpose is to be the Body of Christ, a community of believers witnessing and caring for our community and its needs. More than anything, it is about being a community together.
Having been in this congregation for the past three years, I have seen a lot of changes. Some that have been hard and some that I doubt many have even noticed. One thing that I have seen is that when we work together building each other up and working for a greater goal, there is nothing that can keep us from making our goal. I have seen that with VBS, the Fourth of July hotdog giveaway, many other events, and now the organ fundraiser.
I loved hearing from non-members: “boy, this is a fun church,” “wow, what a great night,” and “so this is the first annual?” These statements, and many more, were a sign that something more then a wine tasting and auction were happening. People from very different communities were mingling and getting to know each other. Funny, I watched two couples who had not known each other at the beginning of the evening leave together because the one couple who had walked, bought too much stuff to walk home.
Though the church’s goal of the event was to make money to fix the organ, my goal was to connect with our community in a new and different way. We did that, and I think that we will see the results of that over the next few months. But this goes back to what it means to be the community. If our only goal was to make money, I do not think that the heart of the evening would have been there. Yeah, I think we would have still made our net, but without the love and care for our community our event would quickly be forgotten. This is because this event was more than a fundraiser-it was about witnessing to what the community of Christ is all about. Showing our neighbors hospitality, respect, and Love.
One of my favorite movies to use during confirmation classes is Simon Birch. Though, one line always frustrates me when Simon asks the pastor what a “continental breakfast” has to do with God. I know what the director was going for, in showing the prejudice of the pastor, but had I been that pastor, I would respond that the Bible is full of times when we eat together; in fact, it is just as common to find stories of eating and meals as it is not to. Moreover, some of the greatest moments in Jesus’ ministry happen while he is breaking bread.
I always say that eating together is the great equalizer; it is not only a shared event, but one of necessity. When coming together, even if it is not directly or explicitly a Christian service, it is a celebration of being the body which calls us to community.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen