The Orchestra of a church

Great PerformancesRomans 12:4-5  For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function,  so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

I remember when I was in elementary school in Manhattan Beach, CA., my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Middleton, introduced us to the arts.  It was a time when teachers could still expound on the arts.  Although I was rather young it made an impression on me.  She introduced us to different artists like Leonardo DiVinci, Raphael, and a lesser known artist Amedeo Modigliani.  Each of these artists had different styles and techniques.  Another area of art was music.  One of the field trips we went on was to see a symphony performance.  As we sat there before the performance began we saw the musicians enter with their instruments and take their seats.  At first it was a cacophony of noise as they warmed up. There were flutes, violins, violas, bassoons, horns, drums, chimes, cellos and other instruments.  Each had a distinct sound that permeated the air.  Each instrument was in the hands of someone who had a skill to play it.  As we sat there listening and wondering what was coming next, the conductor came out.  The instruments quieted, the conductor lifted his baton and the air was suddenly filled with a melodious sound.  No longer was it a cacophony of noises but it was sounds being lifted in harmony with each other.  Each sound accentuated and filled the piece of music that was being played with their own voice and no one instrument over powered the other; yet each could be heard filling air with their special part.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that all of us have spiritual gifts and talents that God has given us to use to accentuate His glory.  Churches like the orchestra are filled with people who have special gifts or talents that can touch lives in special ways.    Like a piece of music a single instrument can play the piece however the fullness and richness of  the music is lost.   It is when all the instruments are playing their part that the beauty of piece of music is experienced in its fullness and it is heard and felt by those present.  Churches too are made up individuals who can use their gifts and talents together, not individually, rather together so others may know the richness and fullness God’s presence and love.  Without unity the church will appear to be like a cacophony of people without unity.

What are your gifts and talents?  Will you use them at your church so it can glorify God and touch lives within your walls and outside in your community.  Let each of you join together and be a church where others will hear God’s orchestra in and through your place of worship.

All Things

All Things

Philippians 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 

Rom. 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Over the past weeks I have been reflecting on the past 10 years.  Ten years ago there was an uncertainty that filled my life and Tillie’s.  It was a time of transition knowing that our time at the church I was serving at in Texas had come to an end. It was a time of transition that was fast approaching not knowing what was to happen next and we had been given a date when the transition would occur.  The Rector had already hired my replacement and it was inevitable that I needed to find a new parish.  It wasn’t like there wasn’t any hope as the Bishop was helping to find a new position in the Diocese.  It was the timing that was the concern. The date we had been given was fixed and I had yet to find a new position. For me it was an uneasy feeling because six years prior I had been downsized from a position I had held for over ten years in the corporate world.  We had to trust God as we had when He provided a position that held us until we went to Seminary a year later. It was the same feeling when I graduated from seminary and did not have a position.  God again was faithful.  He had brought us through seminary; brought us to Texas and now it was a matter of where He was taking us. And so another phase of our journey with Christ began.

As time was slipping away we continued to pray trusting in God.  We knew that it had to be His will and not our just seeking another place to hang the priest collar and vestments.  I tell people that as the time was approaching I prayed fervently saying, “God if you take us out of the paradise of the hill country of Texas you have to place us in paradise”. The reality was I trusted God and knew I could not take just any position to fill the need.  It had to be a position that He called us to go and minister no matter where it was.  It was during this time a position in the heart of Texas opened; the town was literally five miles from the geographic heart of Texas.  So on the request of the Bishop we drove up one Saturday to see the town.

The town was a small Texas town.  The center of town was the town square.  It was defined by the streets that formed it.  It was a typical town square with the courthouse and city offices in the square’s center.  The day we went it was a windy cold gray Saturday and as we drove around the square we noted that multiple shops that encircled the perimeter of the square had gone out of business with only a few remaining viable and fewer still open for business on a Saturday afternoon.  While the BBQ we ate the Hard 8 Bar-B-Que (now closed) was good, it was not where God was leading us.  It was the same feeling we had after we interviewed at another church in the town where the revolution of Texas Independence had started.

As the critical time approached time seemed to march on faster than expected.  It was then I received a call from a parish in Central Florida. It was from a parish I requested my name to be submitted as a possible candidate.  It was in the same Diocese where we had begun our journey to my Ordination to the Priesthood.  First was the phone interview that seemed to last for about two hours.  It was just one of the many that the search committee was making.  Finally the call came they wanted a one on one interview so they flew Tillie and I out to Florida for a full two days of interviews.  When they sent us back we knew there were still more candidates they wanted to interview the same way.  The difference was when we got on the plane to return to Texas God spoke into our hearts this was where He wanted us. We knew that we knew He wanted us there.  It was the same feeling we had when we left seminary for the interview in Texas. In fact we had an offer from a church in Fort Myers before we went to Texas.   We knew that we knew.  Now all we had to do was to wait and trust.

Waiting is hard, trusting sometimes is even harder.  We have no control and it can be difficult when you are facing times of uncertainty when your livelihood and security depend on it. As time slips away you ask yourself, “Did we really hear the word of God speaking in hearts or was it our plan imposed upon God”? The only way to know is through prayer and having a deep intimate relationship with God.

Our faith is strengthened by not just reading God’s word but studying to learn more about His character and His love for us.  It is learning of His plan and trusting His word will accomplish what He purposes for us.  It is in this knowing we have the assurance of His will and not our projected will on Him.

When we place our full trust in the Lord, worry is lightened knowing through prayer and supplication we can make our requests known to Him.  It is because of His love for us and our trust and faith in Him we can have all the assurances He will accomplish His task for the good and for His purpose. And we can have the assurance that all things will work for His glory.