Make Us One...

In case you missed it Sunday, my "Unforgettable Sermon" was centered around family. Yes, indeed we played Family Feud. We had questions and answers. We had a few debates over which answers were actually correct. We had one team prevail as the victor, but we also asked ourselves, "How am I being a part of the family of God here in this community?" And my hope is that we will continue to ask ourselves this question daily. How are we supporting those around us? How are we caring for those in our church? Have we kept up with those who haven't been here in a while? Are we making new connections with those who have come for the first time? Simply stated: Are we being a family?

In the communion liturgy that we say in the UMC, it reads, "By Your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world." This has been on my mind lately in almost every conversation that I have had. What would it look like to live into this? What if we centered our "family" around this call? To be one with Christ, modeling our lives after the wonderful example of Jesus. The one who loved and served. The one who healed and showed compassion. The one who taught and who listened. To be one with each other, connecting with those around us. Those who think like us and those who do not. Those who act like us and those who are so far from it. Celebrating when joys come their way and weeping with them when sorrow enters their lives. And one in ministry to all the world, stepping out of our comfort zone and into the realm of kingdom work. We often pray that God's will would be done and that His kingdom might come, so then, it is our hope to be a part of that.

What I have seen in my time here at Shalimar UMC is that this can happen. This kingdom work, this being a true family, of being "one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world," can occur because I have seen glimpses of it weekly. I have seen us connect to those around the country and around the world through technology and our prayers. I have seen those who have returned to worship for the first time in years be greeted by others who were overjoyed with love to see a friend come home. I have seen our church model the example of Christ to serve and to teach. From Sunday school restarting to the Bread House celebrating a year anniversary and from worship attendance climbing to the children of God being baptized, we are indeed striving to bring the kingdom of God to Earth. Team, we are doing it, and we can continue to do it. We need your help to be part of the family!

We cannot be our best as a church without you. We won't be whole without you. We need your prayers and presence. We need your gifts and service. We need you to be a witness, to testify to what God has been doing in your life to those you meet. Specifically, we need those to help in our children and youth programs. Our family's future is found in the young minds and souls that are being shaped in this church, and we need those who can be of support and care to them. Our Freedom worship service continues to grow week after week, but some major updates and additions need to be made. From lights and sound to cameras and paint, with your help, we can reach many more who are looking for a place they can call home and find a family as well. Persons who will welcome visitors with love and warmth, those who have connections to fill gaps in the community that are not being filled, and those who most of all are willing to pray for our church, our pastors, and this family of believers, we need you! Being "one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world" is my new prayer for all of us. I invite you to pray it with me and to live into it week after week.

Matt Langford

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