“They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47, CEB)
Believe it or not, I am but only two months from being here at Marble four full years. And one thing that was obvious right from my starting here, is that the people of Marble Memorial UMC love this church. You make worshiping God a priority in your lives, you give so much of yourselves, and you care about others in this church and in the community.
But this in no way should be surprising. I say that because God created us (humanity) to be social creatures; created to not only want to be with one another, but to be dependent on each other. As well, the Christian faith is itself meant to be pursued and embraced with one another, i.e., in community. Jesus modeled the inseparable importance of being in community as virtually everything he did, he did in the midst of others, with the only exception being personal prayer with God. Further, we learn and grow in grace by experiencing that grace, or God’s love in action, through tangible manifestations of that love by others. As such, we know that Christ intends his church to be a vital component in our local communities and the world, as reflections and manifestations of his presence, healing and love.
And so, it is for these reasons that we, as a local congregation of the United Methodist Church, are pursuing our role and future as a recognizably vital church here in our community of Milan, and are doing so with the invaluable support of the Vital Church Initiative (VCI) and our Michigan Conference. To say that this initiative is rigorous would be an understatement, indeed. But it would be just as much an understatement to say that it offers an amazing and thriving future for living into and being representatives of Jesus Christ in the world.
To date, a handful of our fellow congregants have delved into some initial learnings and discoveries aimed at securing our vitality well into the future. But as we all know, we are all in this together, and it is important to include the knowledge and input of all of us toward securing that future. In the coming weeks you will be presented with numerous different avenues to learn more about VCI, and engage in conversation and participation. I hope you eagerly take advantage of those opportunities as you are an important voice and presence as part of this congregation in Christ.
As you do so, I fully expect many questions and considerations to surface. At least I hope so, for it is in coming together and working through such questions and considerations that we best can discern how God-in-Christ calls us to be vital in our time and place. And I cannot think of any better way to secure a great future, as individual Christians and as the Church, than to be moving in the direction that God endorses us to move. For our God, is a win-win God. I look forward to continuing our ministry together, filled with excitement for the vitality we will share with one another and our community.
May your dreams be filled with anticipation and expectation toward a vitality that can only come from the God who so loves us, and the God whom we so love.