“Daddy!! Daddy!!! Chase me chase me!!!” Alex Gorman Chamness, age 5

Jesus said to him "If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor and then you will have treasure in heaven." When the young man heard this, he walked away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19

For all must be responsible for their own loads. Galatians 6:5

I remember one of those watershed conversations I once had will a colleague about church and church growth. We discussed the doors through which new members could enter and how to develop a process of integration; it was quite exciting! But it really became challenging when I asked him about what he did with the "stray sheep" that for various reasons had walked away from the community of faith. He said to me "There are basically 3 reasons people walk away from the community of faith: 1) they didn't get their way; 2) they didn't get their way; 3) they didn't get their way. Yes, there are moves and travels and health issues and even sometimes a moment of conviction, but 90% walk away because they didn't get their way." That is what all their complaints reflect, their inability to hear those words of Christ and see that discipleship is about God getting God's way."

My next question was, well, what about chasing some of the folks down? What do you do? I pointed out that the energy that must go into an unhappy individual is ten times the energy that goes into a newcomer, and he agreed readily. "Yes, often it is about them trying to get attention," he said, "but that is not why I don't run after them." Then came the kicker. "It is not my responsibility to make them faithful. Only the individual can choose faithfulness to God and each must make that decision to be faithful to their vows. My task is to build and preserve a place and a community that, through accountability and love, gives them a place to practice and grow in their faithfulness. I do not make them faithful, God doesn't make them faithful; each individual is accountable for their own faithfulness or lack thereof."

As we enter the summer, let us celebrate faithfulness! We are committed to a journey of faith that will test our spirits and open doors to God's kingdom! Along the way we will be asking questions which will make our faith deeper and call us to a greater faithfulness. Begin with your membership vows; we are to offer our prayers, presence, gifts, witness and service not because the church owes us, but rather because we are faithful. How will you grow? Will you make prayer not a time of asking but a time of intercession? In your attendance, will you commit yourself to two weeks a month, then three, and then four? Will you offer a heartfelt gift of support rather than just offering leftovers? Will you find a place to use your hands and feet to bring Good News?
Remember, God will not ask us if others were faithful to us. God will ask if we were faithful to others. And then I pray all our responses to that question will be followed by a "well done my good and faithful servant!”

See you in worship,
Rev. Michael



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