I enjoy preaching Lectionary passages. The chosen texts allow us to experience various parts of God’s Word. We are challenged to journey through the church seasons along with the rest of the world (all who follow the church calendar). Yet I also enjoy preaching through books of the Bible. The week to week consistency of remaining in one book allows us to build on the previous weeks. We are able to experience the totality of the book; we encounter the whole of the author’s writing. As we make our way through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I find his words extremely relevant to us. While Paul is writing to a church nearly 2000 years ago, his words strike a chord with us, First Baptist Muncie. His prayer highlights our calling as a church. His admonitions paint a picture of a healthy congregation.
It is no secret; we are transitioning as a congregation. The dynamics of how we operate are shifting. Our culture is drastically changing. Non-profits across the country are learning to live on less. We are trying to figure out what this means for us. New people are joining our church family. Our congregational makeup looks a bit different than just a few years ago. While we are saying goodbye to long time members, we are also welcoming young families; the nursery is nearly to capacity most weeks. For the first time in several years, we are able to field a softball team. How might these changes impact us? How can we remain on track with God’s purposes for us?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Our cultural and congregational shifts are complex and challenging. Yet I am sure God will lead us. A crucial element of our seeking God is our study of Scripture. As we move through Ephesians together, I am astounded by the pertinence of each text to our congregational life. I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.
(1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV) And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
The Thessalonians viewed Paul’s letter as divine. They submitted to it; they allowed it to transform them. In the same way, we must allow God’s Word to lead us, direct us. As we gather each week, we come with open ears and open hearts to God’s Word. Scripture will do its work in us as we navigate necessary changes.
I am comforted by this. My words are incomplete; I need a compass to traverse the current landscape. God’s Word points us in the directions we need to go. I am looking forward to engaging Scripture with you each week. I am with you in this; together we will submit to Scripture as it encourages, prompts, guides us into the future.