Growing Where You are Planted

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching the word of God.
– Acts 18:9-11

Paul experienced disappointment and frustration with the church.  The Jewish believers refused to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ.  He left the household of his Jewish friends and moved in with Gentile believers.  Paul also told the people in the synagogue that his ministry now was only to the Gentiles.  Conflict within the church is never easy.  And it’s not new.  From the very beginning of the church, disagreements were present.  Even in the midst of conflict, the message and love of God prevails.

There are times when our focus doesn’t align and people need to part ways.  There are other times when we are disappointed that a ministry is not thriving as we had hoped.  In Paul’s situation, his attention and message was misplaced.  God still had work for him to do in Corinth.  God reminded him not to be afraid, but to be faithful to the call.  “So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching the word of God.” – Acts 18:11

In his obedience to God’s call, the message spread.  People came to faith.  Lives were transformed.  We read how the church still had struggles in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, but we also see how God was working through them.  We see the love that God called them to live out in I Corinthians 13.  We read how God was making them into the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12), where each part was dependent upon the others.  Because Paul was faithful to the call and took the time necessary to invest in relationships in that place, the church was fruitful.  God calls us to grow where we are planted as well.

Six years ago I answered the call to serve this church.  It has been a wonderful place for us to grow as a community of faith.  We have celebrated joys and worked through difficulties.  Together, we have experienced transition, global pandemic, shifts in culture, and worked through conflict.  I have made mistakes and the session has made decisions which have not always been popular.  God continues to grow us and share the message of Jesus Christ because we are faithful to the call.  The call is not to be perfect.  The call is to be faithful.  As we extend the love and grace of Christ to one another, those imperfections are forgiven.  Those bonds in the Body of Christ are restored.  The command to “love one another” is achieved.  This Sunday we receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  I invite you to receive the love and forgiveness of God at the table of the Lord and extend that love and forgiveness to one another.  As you have been forgiven, go and forgive others.

Lord, we come as your friends to your table. Through the body and blood of Christ, given by the Spirit in the bread and wine, refresh those who are tired, heal those who are sick, and encourage those who are new. We thank you for hearing us.  We thank you for forgiving us, through Jesus our risen Lord.  Amen.

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