The first Sunday at any new church always makes me a little nervous. Everyone shows up to see if the “new guy” can preach. In their minds … they are comparing you to all the other messengers that have been sent into their lives. Even the furnishing and building designs can add to or relieve the anxiety of a first Sunday.
I remember stepping behind a small antique pulpit that dated to around the 1850’s. It was the most ornate furnishing in this historic one room church building, where everything had been crafted by hand more than a century earlier. I felt small as I took my place behind the pulpit. At that moment I felt my fingers fall into the grooves created by a century and a half of ministers who had placed their hands in the same spot. All of a sudden I was at peace, being reminded that I was sur-rounded by a great company of faith.
I still find comfort from that moment because it helps me remember that I am part of something larger than myself. Each time anyone is baptized or is confirmed they become part of the same heritage as they profess their faith for the first time. As we celebrate this rite of passage in their lives, we should be mindful that this is only the beginning of the journey of faith … not the end. Too often we forget that being a Christian requires action beyond our quest to know Christ. We must also work to make Christ known.
In Paul’s parting comments to the church at Philippi, he said “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9).” You and I are Christians because many others taught us by word and deed what it means to love and be loved by Christ. Now it is our task to do the same for everyone around us. No matter how much the world changes the work of the Church and Christian remains the same … to know Christ and make Christ known. The goal of the church has not changed since its inception, only the faces behind the plow.