When the Apostle Paul concludes his letter to the church in Rome he sends personal greetings to 26 named individuals. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon…welcome her as a saint…Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus and who risked their necks for my life…Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ and my beloved Stachys…

Paul writes of an intimate fellowship within a community of folks who have poured out their hearts and souls through their daily activities so that the early church might flourish and spread the good news. I suspect that Paul could not have imagined what the 21st century church would look like. Running the sound board for a live-streamed funeral; passing out camel food to the children at the live nativity on Ward Parkway, writing a strategic plan for the next 100 years of a 100-year-old gothic church would have been foreign to the apostle Paul. But some activities would have been familiar to him. Folks serving on the funeral guild, deacons visiting homebound members, feeding the city’s hungry and homeless, praying over bread and wine at the table.

Though the details shift with the passing years, the energy of God continues to pulse through the generous service of those who reach out beyond their own personal concerns to build up the body of Christ here on earth. New York pastor and author Tim Keller writes, “We believe the world was made by a God who is a community of persons who have loved each other for all eternity. You were made for mutually self-giving, other directed love. Self-centeredness destroys the fabric of what God has made.” Through your daily service, I continue to see God’s beauty, truth, goodness and love unfolding in our world.

As we close out the end of our church year which ended June 30, I lift up the names of Matt Moeder and Shelle Jensen who have been for me what Paul describes as “co-workers in Christ.” As Chair of the Congregational Board Matt boldly led us through a church-wide process of writing a five-year strategic plan to launch our “Next 100” years. And as Chair of the Elders, Shelle graciously opened up her home and her heart so that all could receive the nourishment of God’s table spread with love.

Paul ends his letter to those first Christians in Rome saying, “Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel…” And so I conclude by saying, thanks be to God who empowers you to love and serve so that the body of Christ is revealed on this earth.

Grace and Peace,