The Empty Chair

Pastor-2“Under God’s control all the parts of the body fit together…So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.”  (Ephesians 4:16)

We are a very busy congregation.  Lots of things happen around here and much of it has to do with spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.  That’s a great thing to be able to say about our church.  It was also really interesting to hear one of our guest speakers on Sunday, April 24th comment that she noticed how much the people in our church really care about each other and about other people.  She noticed the hospitality and the open hearts that are part of our church’s personality.  This, coupled with the fact that I am preparing for Pentecost Sunday on May 15th, has me thinking about our church as a living organism that exists to be of service to God and God’s people.  When we think of Pentecost being the “birth” of the Church, it would seem that we intend to mean that the church is a living, breathing spiritual being.  As a living being, the church is always in need of food to sustain it and opportunities to express its life.

Each of Paul’s letters was written to a specific congregation to deal with specific issues.  Today we have come to understand how we can listen to Paul’s words and apply those lessons to situations in our churches that Paul knew nothing about.  It is the real genius of Paul – his teaching not only helped those specific churches, but also they provide us with timeless truth about how God intends the church to be for all time.  One of the reasons Paul wrote his letter to the church at Ephesus is that He wanted to encourage them to live their lives worthy of the calling they had received.  He wanted to show them that those who are saved must now begin to live distinctive lives here on earth.  In this letter, therefore, Paul gives very specific teaching on how we are to live our lives in the local church, in the world and in the home.

With all the projects going on in our church some might wonder how we could possibly have room for anything new.  For example, how can we now add the issue of Foster Care in Oklahoma to our already full “mission plate”?  Paul’s letter gives us a clue:  As long as we let God be in charge of everything, we will each one be able to play our individual roles and the whole body will grow and build itself up.  Some projects are suited to one type of person, while other projects are suited to other types of people.  Not everyone is expected to be involved in every project.  Each one of us should seek out the place where we feel passion for the people of God and feel led to use our particular gifts and graces.  None of us should feel the need to get involved in everything – it’s too exhausting and, ultimately, ineffective.  We have so many opportunities to serve because we have so many diverse gifts to offer and people who celebrate their particular passion for ministry by bringing ideas to the table.  Hooray for the diversity!

At our last Church Council meeting we left an “empty” chair at the head of the table.  This chair was reserved for Jesus; it was placed as a reminder that Jesus must be in charge of our meeting and we must look to his leadership.  I encourage you now – every committee meeting, every Sunday school class, and every organization in the church – Please set an “empty” chair at your table and reserve it for Jesus.  Do nothing until you first seek to know what Jesus has in mind.

Watching the empty chair,
Pastor Don