I smiled as the words parted, “Would you have ever imagined that the fellowship hall would be full of this much noise and laughter on a Wednesday evening?” Teddy smiled back and agreed. Sometimes I have this mental image of God, represented by a giant arm reaching down from the heavens, removing the roof off of our old building, to get a better view of his children delighting in one another’s company. I believe that God delights in our vitality and cooperation.

Two weeks from now, on October 20th, we will gather again in the fellowship hall for our quarterly meeting and ministry fair. We will spend the better part of 1-2 hours looking back to see what God has done among us and casting our eyes forward to catch a glimpse of what God has in store for our not-so-distant future.  I think it is safe to assume that we can expect a healthy amount of reverent laughter. And whereas I love the mental image of God removing the roof to look down upon us, I know better. The God we worship refuses to stand at a distance. The Savior we serve chooses to come down, crossing the threshold into his house so that he might join his children around the family table. He walks among us. He draws us together, each and every one of us, in the beautiful complexity of our theological and cultural diversity. He will remain by our side to help us come into an awareness of the gifts/resources we’ve been blessed with and then he will guide us to bring those gifts and resources together to usher in a kingdom of grace.

Some of us will leave the small table at Tabernacle that very afternoon to attend another family gathering. Our brothers and sisters at Chamberlayne Baptist Church will host an important meeting of the Richmond Baptist Association. There, we will sit around a larger table, and not unlike Tabernacle’s meeting, we will look back to see what God has done among us and we will cast our eyes forward to catch a glimpse of the not-so-distant future. Our wonderfully diverse family will be asked to take an assessment of our gifts, resources, and level of commitment.  Admittedly, I worry that fear will set the tone. Some around the table are trying to decide whether they will remove themselves or even forcibly remove others from fellowship. I do not anticipate much reverent laughter at this particular gathering. I hope I’m wrong.

Regardless, we take comfort in knowing that God refuses to remain at a distance. Jesus  will be, as he always has and will be, actively present…around the table…..with each and every one us. He delights in our vitality and cooperation. He comes directly to us to remind us of our purpose, to set the tone, and cast the vision. It is my prayer that we will all show up on October 20th ready with our eyes, ears, and hearts wide open to his presence among us.

Yours in Christ,

Sterling W. Severns


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