Drummond Hill Newsletter, March 2, 2022
Ash Wednesday Gospel reading for today is Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-21. Our focus is on 6:3, 4. “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.“
There once was a time when helping others was a discrete and secretive activity. Those who were helping made sure no one knew. Many of us still help others anonymously. We do not draw attention to ourselves or tell others about the things we do to help others.
Our world, on the other hand, does the opposite. They celebrate, share and highlight all good things people do for one another. Indeed, many of these stories are packaged for us as feel good stories that lift up our spirits in dark times. We are suspicious of those things that happen in secret and without everyone knowing about them. Many churches are doing good work of helping. Churches list as well as tell everyone who will hear what wonderful things they are doing in Christ’s name. Indeed, many churches tell others to promote their ministries and raise funds. Yet, Jesus goes the opposite way. These acts, done in secret, keep us humble.
Being God’s presence to people is not about shouting from the rooftops. It is all about being like Christ whose love in secret gives life. Sharing love is individual and intimate. It requires neither fanfare nor praise. Mothers loving their children are done not for praise nor recognition. Our love for others is no different.
In Thanksgiving and Joy of God's Presence
What does God require of us? We usually take this question very seriously and immediately think about doing something very important. Of course our minds run to doing mission work like preaching the gospel, helping the needy, helping Christians prepare to serve in Christ’s ministries. These are all the works that will glorify God.
We tend to leave out “enjoying” God part as something God requires of us to do. Like Martha in the Gospels, we immerse ourselves in “doing.” Seldom do we act like Mary, simply “being” in Christ’s presence to enjoy. We are like Martha because the Bible read in certain ways leaves us with a list of things to do. Yes, unconsciously we have our Christian duty bucket list, the things we must do before we die. But “being” is also important. Enjoying Christ’s presence among us. God comes to us requiring us to enjoy God’s presence. So on this anniversary, we invite you to come and “be”. Be part of this wonderful community of God’s love. Be as God created you to be. Be filled with God’s joy.
Over 25 years ago, my parents retired and moved into a smaller dwelling. They went from nearly 2000 square feet to 800 square feet. It was an amazing feat of sorting out and parting with things they no longer needed. It appears that human beings are extremely good at filling the spaces we have with things. Most of us are not so good at getting rid of things. My excuse for keeping those unnecessary things is “just in case I may need it.”
It is always easier to downsize if you know the place you are downsizing to. Then, we can work and figure out what essential things we may keep and what other essential things we can buy because things we have will not fit in the smaller space we are moving to.
One consideration of choosing the size is to think ahead about how in so many years later, we may continue to flourish in this downsized space. We need foresight in our preparation. Without proper planning, we will have endless regrets instead of the life of joy and happiness. Definitely we need an appropriate size sanctuary that will not only sustain our reduced size, but also has sufficient room to grow. We also need a hall to do our fellowship, ministry of care, and ministry of building up in order to flourish as a community. This is a bit more tricky because these works will grow. Can we worship and minister in one building or two? Let’s give some thought.
Different Kind of Belonging
Last week we explored hospitality as being a spiritual home where we share lives that are bound by the love of Christ which feeds, grows, nurtures and matures us. This is a lofty way of saying how we can be a church in the 21st century. Wonderful! But what does it mean in everyday life?
How do we open our home to strangers in ways that we become good hosts? If we are not prudent, we end up naively opening our homes so that others can not only take advantage of our hospitality, but also plunder everything we have. This would be like throwing pearls to swines. We need to be as wise as a serpent while being as innocent as doves.
In the last century, the idea of doing church was very well captured by a line in a movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build, they will come.” We built churches, whether they are traditional, seeker sensitive, or simply Bible based. Those who wanted to belong to churches tried and eventually found their homes.
21st century ways are different. We are learning that being digital or online means that churches go to people. More and more people feel less and less to come to the buildings to worship. We learned this during the pandemic.
Idea of belonging has changed. You can belong from anywhere. Our way of being hospitable is changing, too. Being God’s people together with Christ, worshipping is life giving experience when we are bound in Christ and through Christ made one. In this relationship of communion we thrive together as one physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Worship is best experienced when we are physically present with each other. Virtual presence may be necessary at times, but the spiritual distance alienates and deprives us of the joy of intimacy in Christ. Mystery of God is something shared in intimacy of communion in the context of worship. Worship feeds, grows, nurtures, and matures us when God’s mystery is shared, enjoyed, revealed, and received.