L.I.F.T. Conference at First Christian, Macon will be held on Saturday, May 16 from 10:00-3:00 p.m. The L.I.F.T. is sponsored by the New Church and Church Redevelopment Commission of the church in Georgia. It stands for Loving, Impactful, Faithful, Transforming, Communities of Faith. The program is designed to help churches to move forward toward what the church needs to be in the 21st century. The cost is $10 which includes lunch. Rev. Jorge Cotto, pastor of Central Christian Church in Coral Gables, FL., will be the leader of the conference. This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone in our church.
In May we will celebrate the birthday of the church. Pentecost is considered the day that we left behind fear and moved toward the creation of faith communities that embraced walking the Way that Jesus taught them. The Apostles reached out to others to share the Good News but also shared their time and resources and encouraged everyone to do the same.
They taught each other, worked with each other, ate together, and built a faith. We are the spiritual descendants of these apostles. We are to carry on the tradition begun so long ago; but we have to do the work of the church. This is not based on coming to worship and serving on boards alone. It also involves devoting our time to deepening our understanding and practice of faith. We do this by striving to love others, to avoid judging people, to help those on the edges of our community. We do this by spending time in prayer, intentionally speaking to God and listening for God to reply. We do this by reading and studying the Word as well as resources that can provide guidance and support. We do this by volunteering to serve utilizing the gifts we possess.
We are the Church, not a building alone, but a people who reach out to lift the fallen, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and free those held captive by all the conditions and temptations that bind them. We do not do this as individuals, but rather as a community of faith. We work and walk together to assist each other to better respond to the Call of God.
On Pentecost, the Disciples stopped focusing inward on their fear of what might happen and turned outward to share their hopes and to witness to the people all around them. They realized that the promise of God through the teaching of Jesus was greater than anything that Rome could do to them. Paul summed it up when he told the church in Rome that there is no power that can be named that can take away God’s love for us.
Our world is all about fear right now. We need to be more faithful than fearful. It will not always be easy, but that is the challenge of our historic faith. Members of our denomination stood between the Japanese soldiers as they invaded a mission run by Disciples in what is now Beijing during the Second World War. They were protecting women and children from men intent on abuse. They didn’t use weapons, or force; they used faith in God. To this day, those missionaries are remembered and honored in China. We may not have to stand in their shoes, but maybe we can make a difference for others and for ourselves by allowing God to put us to work.
It is a tradition to give a gift to someone celebrating a birthday. Maybe we should give ourselves to the Church in service and respond to the call of God.