Tomorrow morning we have the privilege of hearing from another of our young adult inspirations, Amanda Carlson, a "Spark Global Intern" from our church who served for six months in Ndola, Zambia. Her message title is "Thoughts of Hope." If you're interested in reading more about her time there, you can look on the Spark Global Interns blog.
Our local church is able to support ministries like Amanda's because, believe it or not, we are somewhat organized. Tomorrow we have two events at 9:45 that showcase that organization. In the church fellowship hall we'll have our "quarterly financial forum." In the church choir room I'll meet with people who are not yet official "members" of our local church but who might consider becoming members.
It's good that we are organized as a church body. Being somewhat organized that lets us do good things in the world. It's good to be organized as a business--to have a budget, to have a building to meet in and staff to help us stay together. Being part of a church body keeps faith, hope and love burning bright over the long term. Though a young "spark" might get a fire going, to keep it burning someone needs to keep adding fuel.
Spiritual hermits find their faith soon dies out. Like burning pieces of wood go dark when separated out from a camp fire, so we quickly fall into cynicism and despair when we go it alone. Today, for example, I heard a piece on the radio called "This I Used to Believe." So much in our world stands against faith, hope and love. So, it's good have churches--more or less "organized" religion, people who get together, care for each other, help each other with our doubts and questions, make some decisions, hear God's word regularly, and spread the good news.
You can learn what we'll be learning in our new member class tomorrow by downloading a pdf file (12 pages)--just click here.
We shouldn't be surprised that it takes more than a one time experience to stay in the faith. The Bible, including John's story of the resurrection of Jesus that we'll continue reading tomorrow, makes it clear how faith isn't so easy. At the empty tomb of Jesus, for example, Mary Magdalene doesn't recognize Jesus, Peter doesn't get it, the "beloved disciple" (presumably the author of this gospel) believes something but really doesn't understand. And Thomas, the most honest of the bunch, realistically admits that he just won't believe unless he sees for himself.
But then Jesus talks with each one personally. Mary hears her name. The disciples hear Jesus say "peace be with you." And Jesus loves Thomas enough to answer his questions. That's what we try to do in the church too. With the Holy Spirit at work among us, we care, we share, and we don't reject those who Jesus loves. And the fire of God's love continues to burn bright, spreading even to Ndola, and, hopefully to your heart.
See you in church!