I am proud of us! I am really proud of us! These past several weeks we have spanned the spectrum of emotion. We have celebrated together the wondrous work of the YMCA counselors and the young lives that were changed because of their service, dedication, and love. We have grieved with our family as several of our loved ones lost their battles with illness, and are no longer with us. We have a thanked God for the gift of life and love by baptizing three new children into God's family, our family. We have reveled in extraordinary highs, and felt sorrow in incredible lows. And I am proud us! So proud of us!
In times of celebration we did it well. When we honored the people of the YMCA and celebrated YMCA Sunday, 160 people showed up. We showed up with our gracious words, appreciative spirits, and not to mention plenty of food to feed everyone. We stayed a bit later at lunch and made sure we visited with our new friends and that we thanked them personally for the tremendous work they did here this past summer. We held their babies, hugged their parents, and told them how much we appreciated them, and what God was doing through them. We did it well.
In times of grief and sorrow, we rallied strong. As several of our family members have died, we sent cards. We made phone calls. We have sat by bedsides and just offered our presence. We have cried with them. We have hugged them. We have loved them. We have brought food for receptions. We have prayed for comfort, healing, and love. We showed them they were not alone. We rallied strong.
Folks, being part of a church means several things. It means supporting the church with your time, talents, gifts, service, and your witness. It means taking seriously what you can do to build the Kingdom of God. It means putting to use the gifts and talents God gave you to reach out to the least, the lost, and the last. It means taking on the burdens of the people that this society has marginalized and letting them know they are loved, unconditionally. It also means that we love and care for those already in our midst.
I am so very proud of us. In the last several weeks, as we have faced difficult times, celebratory times, and all sorts of other times. We have done it well and we have rallied strong. I have seen us care for each other. I have seen public and behind-the-scene acts of service. I have seen us do it tirelessly. I have witnessed us do it without reserve. These times have taken significant energy from many people. But we have persevered because our focus is not on self-gratification or personal gain. Rather, we are focused on caring for one another. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, NIV).
You have loved well. You have loved deeply. You have loved graciously. I am proud of us. You should be too!
Have a great week and see you Sunday!