All to the glory of God – Mark 9:30-37

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Today was one of those days that just makes a pastor’s heart sing. A great worship service, a productive business meeting that was less about doing church business and more about dreaming big. Lots of sharing, laughing, praying, playing music, and all the rest.

Did we do it the way the “big” church just down the road did it? Nope.

That’s OK though, we celebrated how we are following Jesus in our own unique way – even while we gave thanks for how our brothers and sisters in Christ in that “big” church follow him in their unique and wonderful way.

You see, loving God and becoming more like Jesus isn’t about particular programs and budgets – big or small. It isn’t about worship style – modern or traditional – contemporary or classic. It is about relationship. It is about grace – amazing grace – in all the amazing ways God shows it to us.

After worship, during our luncheon board meeting, people of all ages celebrated how God is especially at work right now – giving us a vision for a new task force on growth. We heard from some of the youngest members of our congregation – listened to their ideas and dreams for the church they will one day lead – and all of the “old folks” listened – really listened! Praise God for that!

No, as Jesus said when first going about setting up his kingdom here on earth – we are (I’m paraphrasing here) – “we are all in this together.”

I am excited about what God is doing – in our little church – in big churches elsewhere. I am excited about what Jesus is doing – not just in church but coffee shops, mission outposts, hospitals, counseling centers, 12 step meetings, homes, camps, on the streets, in the jungles – well, you get the picture.

God is at work, always wonderfully, at work. How wonderful it is to be a part of it – at any age. We do it all, together, to the glory of God.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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