Today, our church celebrated twenty-five years of ministry. The preparation for this service has been the number one topic at church for weeks. A tremendous amount of planning and work went into the day and now that it is over I can say, without any reservation, that it was all worth it ... at least it was for me.
The church was filled to overflowing, our normal crowd of 60 or 70 swelled to well over 125 and I kid you not when I tell you that we had standing room only. I wasn't prepared for what happened when we stood at the beginning of the service to sing Holy Ground. I was filled with a rush of emotion that immediately brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. That same feeling would come again and again throughout the service. I was moved by the emotion evident in each person who had a part in the service. A short history of the church was given by the widow of the first pastor. The former music minister spoke about his days serving the church and sang The Longer I Serve Him. When our pastor spoke about his nearly twenty years at the church, it brought tears to my eyes again, especially as he thanked his sweet wife for her support of his ministry.
Surprisingly, I listened with new ears to what is now a familiar story to me. I was there when the church celebrated 15 and 20 years of ministry, I remember hearing much of this same history and I enjoyed being part of those days, but they didn't have the same affect on me that today's service did and I have been trying to figure out why.
Somewhere deep inside me I am trying to articulate an answer to that question and I am finding it to be a difficult task, but I can say that it has to do with the love that God has given me both for the group of people who make up this church and for the ministry they have been so faithful in building. The struggles of those who have been part of the history of Crossview, who were willing to persevere in what they believed God was calling them to do, have laid a foundation that we are still building on today.
I think what I am beginning to realize is that this means more to me today than it did five or ten years ago, because these people have come to mean more to me over the years and their lives have become inextricably intertwined with my life and with my family. No matter where God leads our family in the future, this fellowship of believers will always be a part of who we are.
I can close my eyes and look back across that congregation today and memories come rushing in as I see the ladies who rocked my babies in the nursery and showed them the love of Jesus before they could even crawl, and the youth that were the reason we were called to the church in the first place~now all grown-up and married, some with children of their own, not to mention the ladies that I have come to love and respect as we have prayed together on Wednesday nights, and the men who provide the leadership needed to keep us moving in the right direction. The truth is that no matter how hard I try to capture in words what is in my heart, I will never succeed in doing it justice. The attempt brings to mind one of my favorite lines from the movie Skylark "...sometimes, words aren't good enough."
The service today was concluded with a wonderful sermon, delivered by a former pastor who challenged us to not only remember the things that God has done, but to look to the future for what He is calling us to do. What a fitting challenge for a day that could have been too wrapped up in the past. As our pastor said at the conclusion of his testimony today, what has been accomplished at this church isn't because of what we've done, it is because we serve a great God and He has done great things. Amen, Brother, amen.
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