Saturday Sermon: Belonging, finding our place in God
By Jay Brown
I serve as the pastor of what is known as an "enlarged charge," which includes Shiner, Yoakum and Hope United Methodist Churches.
It has been a unique assignment, and I often find myself wondering where I am and if it's Sunday morning or not. The folks of each congregation have been very gracious and loving, and we're learning how to do the dance of ministry with a real emphasis on grace.
This is often manifested in the types of ministries that each congregation is noted for. Shiner has a food bank that feeds more than 20 families weekly. Yoakum has a GED program that meets on Monday evenings, helping an average of 12 persons to better their lives with the attainment of a high school equivalency. Hope has a very powerful and purposeful ministry with the shut-ins at a local nursing and rehab facility. Each congregation has it's own unique personality and flavor, but all are equally committed to sharing God's love to the community and the world.
I am humbled and honored to be among such giving and generous people. There was a television program many years ago, that had in it's theme song something about how we all want to go "where everybody knows your name, and they're all glad that you came." I think that same dynamic is relevant today. In a world that seems more and more impersonal, where we can rarely (if ever) get a live human voice on the phone to speak to, we want to go where someone knows our name and is glad that we came.
A worship community does that for me. After more than 30 years of ministry in different congregations and areas, people still are the same. We all have needs, we've all faced tumult and turmoil, trials and temptations, joys and celebrations . and we want to share in these experiences with others. Just this morning at our food bank in Shiner, we noted that there are folks who hunger for more than just groceries; they long for a human face and touch. They want to be seen, heard, noticed and just hang out for awhile with someone who knows their name and is glad that they came. When I engage in ministry with my congregation and worship together, fellowship together, and learn together, I begin to get a sense of a meaningful and relevant life. I am in community; I belong; my life matters to me and to others and to my Creator.
I belong to many service organizations and clubs that have appealed to me on various levels. They are not the same as belonging to a worship community. The world offers many tempting solutions to the pain and struggles that we face daily.
I have found that nothing the world offers can fill my soul with what it needs to thrive and grow. I do, however, find solutions by joining with others in praise and worship intentionally and committedly. I pray that we can all find the life to which we are called as the people who God created us to be. If you are a part of a faith community, praise God and be grateful. If not, or maybe you have become inactive, why not let this message be a call to engage in a more meaningful and productive life? Then we can echo the words of the psalmist together: "I was glad when they said unto me; let us go into the house of the Lord." God bless you.
Jay Brown is the pastor of the Shiner, Yoakum, Hope United Methodist Church.