Through the crisp air of an autumn Sunday morning the sound of a church bell can be heard. Itís ringing signals that a service is beginning, an invitation to all hearers to come and worship. Itís ringing proclaims the gathering of a community of believers, a group of people whose lives have experienced the love and grace of God.
On any given Sunday morning, and perhaps at other times during the week, one might encounter some interesting happenings in a church building. These events might include at least some of the following.
- Some people enjoy expressing their opinions, possibly even disagreeing, and they usually do so right out in the open.
- At least one staff member is always behind in their work because he or she took the time for someone needing a listener.
- As everyone knows, the priest-in-charge is not perfect and he will usually be the first to admit it.
- The choir is really just a bunch of amateurs and the churchís hymnals are wearing out.
- Some people have been known to miss meetings in order to spend time with their families.
- The vestry (elected group of decision makers) is frequently the bearer of distressing news about finances. More income is needed to maintain current programs while the building and grounds committee wants to spend money for a few plants to put near the front door. It may become necessary to borrow from the building fund to pay for pensions and health premiums. Plus, the electric bill is way over budget again.
- The coffee hour is always a crowded and confusing event.
- The children get noisy and are all over the place. Sometimes you can even hear a baby start to cry during a worship service.
- And the front door is about to come off its hinges with so many people having keys and all kinds of groups coming and going.
- Actually, the whole place is full of losers. Most of the people have lost some dear loved ones. Then there are all those people who know they canít make it on their own. Yet while these people may be losing, they are also finding true life in receiving and giving a lot of love, for Christís sake.
If the above sounds like a lively, healthy family, perhaps that is because it is ~ a healthy and growing church family. One blessed by the Holy Spirit as evidenced by gentleness and the willingness to seek Godís guidance in all things. May all who accept the invitation of the bell enter for strength and renewal as well as for solace and pardon.
ďOne thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.Ē Psalms 27:4 (RSV)
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