29 Apr Happy Birthday, Calvary!
April 29, 2020 Happy Birthday, Calvary!
On Saturday, my church will commemorate its 72nd birthday. In our Coronavirus-laden reality, we won’t get to share a cake (chocolate, of course.) Or sing together. But, we will still be celebrating, just from our individual homes.
As I reflect on Calvary’s history, there are so many blessings for which I am deeply grateful. From this corner thousands of people have come and gone through the decades, each leaving their mark, each a part of the life not only of this congregation but also the neighborhood and community. Because of them, hungry people have been fed. Children have been loved, cared for, and tutored. Friendships have developed, been nurtured, and lasted lifetimes. Loved ones have been mourned and buried, births and baptisms have been occasions for shared joy. Life has happened here. Sometimes I think I can hear the laughter and the prayers echoing in the hallways and feel the love and devotion oozing from the very brick.
This is what church is supposed to be: people loving and caring for one another as they love God and care for God’s world. Our love can look a little peculiar at times, I’ll admit. “Confirming” teenagers. Reciting the Apostle’s Creed or the Lord’s Prayer. Sprinkling water on infants. Eating one bite of bread dipped in some grape juice and calling it a meal. Praying for one another. Opening our homes and lives to people we call “brothers and sisters.” Giving money to strangers in our community and in places halfway around the world. Showing up each Sunday for something we call “worship.” Listening to someone expound on an ancient text that is somehow still relevant for our lives today. All because we love God and love one another.
I am keenly aware that I am a steward of the faithfulness, love, and commitment that has made Calvary who and what it is today—and that has stood the test of time over these 70+ years. My job is not to build anything or improve anything. If any building or improving needs to occur, God will initiate that. My job is to help us continue to live out our faithfulness, love and commitment in our current context, Coronavirus and all. Like runners in a relay race, each person who is part of Calvary now is called to run their leg of the race well, until it is time for us to pass the baton to the next generation who will faithfully love and serve our community from this spot.
I am indebted and grateful to all the men and women who have been part of this church, who had a passion for embodying the love of God, offering a refuge of peace and safety, and being a beacon of hope to our community. I am privileged to follow in their footsteps, adding my prayers and love and efforts to their legacy. Most of all, I am profoundly thankful for God’s gracious Spirit who is still working in and through us. Much more than our faithfulness to God, it is God’s faithfulness to us that we commemorate as we celebrate. Happy Birthday, Calvary!
Yours for the Kingdom,