Church Together | Community Giving

Being together means different things at different times. I remember family reunions at Gaston lake. In the summer we’d share pasta salad, deviled eggs, and macaroni and cheese. For the “grown-ups,” this collection of food was the highlight. For me, the highlight was hanging out on the pier, swimming in the cool waters, and the invitation to ride in a boat, behind which a newly-met cousin was dragged through the water on skis. Oh, how I longed to be old enough, one day, to be that person.

I also think about those times the Bishop visited my home church of St. Mary’s. Parishioners would plan for weeks. These visits would remind us that we were a church family. Again, deviled eggs were a focal point. Later, I’d become a campus minister. Students would come together after summers of internships and lifeguarding. “It’s so good be together again!” they’d say with sighs of relief, recognizing and welcoming the familiar rhythms of worship, church, and learning. Coming together is one of the ways that God fills our cup.

What does it mean to be together? Here? Now? In this time when the word “distance” is used way, way too often, can we claim to be a church together

Yes, we can.

“Church Together” is the theme of this year’s Community Giving Campaign at St. Paul’s. Realizing that this year would not be a “normal” year, the committee has been meeting for several months. Their theme of being called together is a testament to the God who, through the centuries, has called the church together and has created us to be in relationship. No matter the circumstance, God has shown that, together, God’s people can move into places of life.

“Together” is not a word I use lightly. It can be hard to do things together. But, over the decades, St. Paul’s, you have done some things! From the Christian perspective, our baptismal covenant outlines what it means to be together. Being together involves closeness and similarity of vision. Being together means a commitment to pray with and for each other. It means pledging to support and to teach and to learn. Being together involves working toward heavenly ideals and respecting the innate goodness of all people. Being together means being the church and as the church, we come together not to represent our own, individual ideas and ideals. We come together to represent the values of the Kingdom. We come together so that the world might see and know and have a picture of what God’s love looks like.

Sure – we are distanced physically, but our hearts and hands and voices are joined in the person of Jesus Christ who has forever bound us, not apart, but together. And we have the unique privilege of being the church – this church – St. Paul’s Church. A church with a unique message to bring to the community. As one of my Bishops once said, “These are not easy time to be a Christian, but these are the times we have been given.”

Know that you’re not alone. We face these times together. I am humbled to be a part this journey with you.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20,21)

With thanks,
Charlie+

To read more about this year’s Community Giving Campaign, click here.

To read more about the theology of giving from our Director of Adult Spiritual Formation, Keli Shipley Cooper, check out this week’s Spiritual Focus here.