Last night was our yearly Thanksgiving meal together as a church body. This group of just over 150 saints has been gathering together for about 2 1/2 years as a united body (the product of a merger between 2 very different Baptist churches). But the thing that binds us together is the only thing that makes the Church the Church: the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul says in Ephesians 4, “there is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” We were all adopted as sons and daughters of the One True God, and He is our glorious common bond. Blessed indeed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.
It hasn’t always been easy. The #ForeverPlague was a rough season, as there were very firm differences of conviction and understanding between church members about what was or wasn’t going on, and how we should respond collectively. As an elder, I will admit I made some mistakes in judgment and should have been more open to listen to those who disagreed with me. (I’m sorry for that, and have tried to repent of it directly to those to whom I should.) And then beyond that, there have been the typical conflicts that come up in a church full of redeemed sinners, especially one formed of groups with two very different sets of experiences and expectations.
But through it all and in spite of it all, I love those people. Last night, I was asked to give the closing prayer during our brief Thanksgiving prayer service, right before the meal. As I did so, I thanked God for the joy of the moment, the delight of the smells and tastes and sounds of a meal shared with family. And then we all enjoyed that meal together as a family.
I praise God for my church family. They are imperfect, as I am. They are also hopeful, as I am. God is good. He is growing our number slowly but steadily, bringing in new members from other places, as well as some who have trusted in Jesus and have come through the waters of baptism and covenanted with us. God is good, and He is gracious to our little flock. He has protected us, and He will not abandon us. All glory to Him.