Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Happy Birthday Church
Birthdays are special times.
They’re times to remember, to celebrate milestones, and to have fun. I have a friend who celebrates her birthday all month long. She jokingly says, "it was a long labor." I think she is funny. I also think she has it right - birthdays should be bigger than one day. Birthdays allow for other days to follow.
We celebrate the birthday of the church in worship this Sunday. It was around this week almost two-thousand years ago - possibly in the year 26 AD - that Luke tells us in the book of Acts that the Holy Spirit came down upon the people and the church was born. We call it Pentecost, because it was 50 days after the Resurrection.
A lot happened in those first days and weeks. The scriptures tell of thousands coming to believe in the story of Jesus. In a matter of days new believers were sharing the story in parts of the world that those first disciples would have never heard. A lot has happened since those first days. The church has spread around the world. It has changed the methods and means of telling the story over time in order to win more people to the love of Christ.
There have been rough patches, and not everyone got along, but we still believe that churches and denominations all over the world are working alongside of us to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Within the Methodist movement alone, there are approximately 75 million members around the world, who are a part of over 1.5 billion Christians worldwide. While we often feel isolated or fear that the great things we believe the church stands for are becoming things of the past, the truth could not be any different. The church in the United States is indeed undergoing massive shifts, but many of these shifts are more related to how much the American form of church has become tied to our American culture. Beyond the US, the church is growing and changing lives at a rapid pace. Our church has the chance to shine the light of Jesus into the lives of families and persons and share with them the very same power that first captured the hearts and dreams of those first disciples on Pentecost.
So Happy Birthday to the Church. There are a whole bunch of people celebrating today.
Grace and Peace, Scott