When Sue was diagnosed with lymphoma, the Church was our first call—to people who have been there and who give their time and love to serve people like us who are now there. Nothing new. The Church has always been there for us. Again, Sue and I are overwhelmed—but not surprised—by the love from the people we call “our Church.” We’ve received all kinds of encouragement, help and offers to do “anything” we need.
In the past few weeks, a couple showed up twice with their equipment and groomed our lawn and Sue’s flower garden. They have three young children, so they weren’t looking for some fun on a school night. Many others came by with meals during their busy work and school week. Life groups (Sunday school class, ABF, small group, growth group—choose your favorite) of young families sent house cleaners and restaurant gift cards. I could go on with the list of acts of service and love.
These are people raising kids—some of those with special needs. All are managing marriages or are single parents, and are juggling jobs, full schedules and tight funds, like most of us. Yet, they find margin to “love one another.”
This is the Church we know and love in a big way here at Cottonwood Creek! I realize that our roles on staff contribute to the volume of support we’ve received here. But I’ve only been a pastor for five years and this is the same kind of love we have experienced for 35 years in 13 locations in 13 different churches (thanks to Air Force life). It’s the same Church we’ve known in San Angelo and San Antonio, TX; and that we experienced in Nebraska, Maryland, Georgia, Florida and even overseas in Japan and two stopovers in England. Same Church. Same Love and Same Service.
Sue and I have three and half decades of stories about the Church’s love for us and others, ever since we joined a church small group in 1982 and served in the nursery, preschool and elementary programs, then in teen and adult ministries. It’s no fluke.
But this isn’t about Sue and me. It’s about the Church that we’ve loved and served and that has loved and served us and others for so many years. Ultimately, it’s about Jesus Christ, the One who loved and bought the Church with his own blood (1 John 4:19, Acts 20:28).
Jesus didn’t save and establish his Church to serve us. The Church exists to be the light of the world so that people will glorify our Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:14-16). Jesus made it vividly clear that the best way for the Church to do that is to “love ONE ANOTHER” as he has loved us, like a servant. (John 13:4-5, 34-35).
We know the Church is far from perfect. That day is coming! But we wouldn’t trade the Church for anything in the world. We’ll never be without it.
Sue and I married until death separates us, realizing that one of us will most likely need to continue for some time without the other. But we know that’s not true of our relationship to the Church. As long as we live, we will love and serve and be part of the Church. And we know that the Church will love and serve and be part of us.
What about you?