HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHURCH! On Pentecost Sunday, June 9th, we’ll celebrate the birthday of the Christian church. The church was born on that day almost 2,000 years ago when the Holy Spirit, “…with a sound like the rush of a violent wind, filled the house where the disciples were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:2-4)
Because the disciples were able to communicate about God’s deeds of power and because Peter witnessed to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, “… those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:41-42.
What a spectacular birth for the Christian church; all of those fireworks and an incredibly large New Members Class! Wouldn’t Christ Congregational Church love to take in that many new members???
The word that particularly struck me in this Acts passage is the word “persons.” As CCC looks toward its future, I know that members are very much hoping that the church will grow. You are hoping for more persons in your pews, more persons to join you in mission, more persons to be a part of your sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now what I’d like to lift up for your consideration is the kind of persons who this church of Jesus Christ should be hoping to take into membership.
You might remember the God is Still Speaking video in which the little girl does the finger play “Here is the church, Here is the steeple, Open the door and See all the people, All the people!” Those are the kinds of persons CCC should be anxious to welcome to our membership. All the people, because all are equally valuable to God and to our church.
It’s important that we move beyond, consciously or unconsciously, thinking that some of the desirable characteristics of new members are that they are: financially generous, healthy, young, intelligent, well-dressed, hard-working, and family-oriented. God has created humanity as diverse. In addition, circumstances and choices have resulted in lives that might be very different from our own. All people must be welcomed in Christ’s church without being rated on a scale according to our standards of desirability. Ageism, sexism, racism, classism, and all those other life-denying “isms” have no place in the Christian church.
Let us intentionally reach out to, and welcome, all persons, sharing the love of God and the joy of Christian community, trusting that we will be strengthened and led by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us be open to the gifts these persons will bring to CCC, for surely those will come.
In Christ’s Love!
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ