I’m preaching this Sunday on the gift of love.  While working on my notes for the sermon I made a list of all the things I love about our congregation.  I did this as a spiritual exercise, as a prayer of thanksgiving for you, the members and friends of this church. As I looked back over the list I thought you should know how crazy in love I am with you all!

I love our history.  From 1920-2013 there are many, many stories of this congregation’s commitment to continually serving God and each other.  Our shared history is one that has continually sought new and creative ways to share the love of God with the world.

I love our building.  There are some who would say that it is not theologically correct to love the stone and the concrete and timber but I can’t help it.  The sanctuary and the chapel are especially holy and sacred places.  In both we’ve stood together in times of joy and times of sorrow.  Every time I walk into either place I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that thousands and thousands have experienced God’s grace in these beautiful rooms.

I love our staff.  This diverse collection of folks, whether they are ordained or administrative, young or old, shy or outgoing, they continually work together to serve God and you.  It is a great joy to see them at their best!

I love the great work we do in the community and the world.  Recently we’ve been studying ways we can expand our outreach ministries into northeast Kansas City.  It is exciting to see what is unfolding and I know that it will be every bit as amazing as the work we do feeding the hungry on Monday nights, tutoring children on weekdays, continuing to help rebuild Joplin, and providing medicine and hope in places like Nicaragua and South Africa.  Your talent and energy for caring for the world is down right miraculous!

I love the people.  There are too many names to list, too many tales to tell, too many moments of redemption to share, but together they weave a beautiful story of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Last Sunday, during the closing hymn, I was choked up with emotion as I looked out and saw the faces of the hundreds who were gathered that day for worship.  I saw stories of endurance, and pain, and sadness, and joy, and celebration and a mixture of all of the above.  Your lives are beacons of hope pointing to God.  One of the great saints of the church said, “Preach the gospel at all times.  When necessary, use words.”  Your lives have become like sermons of love. 

Grace, peace and love to you,