“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, …” Philippians 1:3-7
The people in my church family are not perfect. Sometimes they gossip; sometimes they complain; they can be stubborn and stiff-necked; resistant to change, ungrateful, insensitive, and more. Sometimes members of the family annoy, irritate or upset me because of the things they do, or fail to do. At times they disappoint me.
On the other hand, I love every one of them. They have taught me many important lessons: how to live through tough times; how to stay married (happily) for 50+ years; how to make a joyful noise unto the Lord; how to work hard and persevere, how to be a servant to others. These kinds of things can be best learned by example and I find many positive examples of Christian living here at St. Paul’s.
You are probably asking if I have just described two different groups of people, and the answer is no. The truth of the matter is, we all fall into both groups. I’m sure that sometimes my church friends find me encouraging, helpful and fun to be around; and yet at other times I’m thoughtless, unappreciative, ungenerous or fail to pitch in and do my share.
So whenever I’m feeling cranky about my “family,” I try to remember that I let them down sometimes, too, and the great thing about church is (as a friend once told me) –they’ll always forgive you. I think about their positive qualities, and the many times we have worked together as ‘partners is the gospel.’ I think about how God called each of us here to this place, as gifts to one another. And I give thanks.