Tomorrow morning LPC’s leaders – elders, deacons, trustees, staff people – will gather for a Leadership Retreat. We do this every year. It is a time for members of the three leadership boards to be together at one time and in one place. We welcome newly elected officers and remind them and ourselves of the amazing promises they are going to make to God, to the members of the church through whose voice God has called them, to themselves, and to the whole world as they are ordained and installed the next two Sundays.
We will open our time singing God’s praise and then spend several hours considering this moment in the life of our church and the joys and challenges God has given “in such a time as this.” We will talk about the reality of three generations, three tribes, and three services. When they get home from the retreat, you can ask an elder, deacon, trustee, or staff member about that.
We’ll be asking some questions about who we are and what God is calling us to do. These questions need to be asked from time to time – not that we don’t have a pretty good idea of the answers, but so that we remember the answers and stay on course.
Of course there will be the required Power Point presentation and a nicely designed packet of materials to be handed out to the participants. I coined a phrase I have no intention of repeating on any brochure, website, or newsletter. Don’t worry. But using the graphic in the header of this post, I describe Langhorne Presbyterian Church, as “A Small Church in God’s Big Universe Called to do Gigantic Things.” As I said, don’t worry, you won’t be seeing this again.
Statistically speaking, LPC is not a small church. In terms of membership, worship, program, and budget, we are bigger than 90% of all other churches in the country. But maybe it is not in comparison to some church that meets in a former sports arena that we need to remember we are small. We are small in the same way the earth is small and the solar system is small. LPC surely seems small when, in awesome wonder, we consider all the worlds God’s hands have made. And LPC is small, as is that church meeting in the former sports arena, when we consider the holy catholic church meeting in cathedrals and storefronts and bombed out chapels around the world.
If someone were to say LPC is a great church – and I am tempted to say so – it is only because we have a great God. Our band of believers, a family of adults and children and youth, is small in all the ways that God calls us to be small – a place where you’re known and cared for by name.
Finally, this (wonderfully) small church in God’s (awesomely) big universe is called to do (amazingly) gigantic things. We do the gigantic things our awesome God calls us to do in our wonderfully small ways.
Neshaminy Schools enroll about 9,000 students. This summer around 150 students will spend a week in our Vacation Bible School. It’s a pretty small number by comparison, but some of those students will find their lives changed forever as, for the first, time they hear the Good News of a God who loves them. That’s gigantic.
Well over 200,000 school age kids live in Philadelphia, nearly 10,000 in the tough Hunting Park neighborhood. Around 200 children attend Hunting Park Christian Academy. It’s a pretty small number by comparison, but those students are not only learning to read and write in ways many others can’t or don’t, they are learning about the God who loves their neighborhood and is calling his people to change it one street at a time. That’s gigantic.
Around 300 kids of the uncounted thousands in Favela da Ventosa in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, are touched by the work of Igreja Presbiteriana – the music school, the Saturday afternoon program, July’s Vacation Bible School. It is a pretty small number by comparison, but some of those kids are finding hope in their hopeless world, and some touched by that amazing little church have grown up and stayed in the favela to make a difference. That’s gigantic
Kibuye Hope Hospital has 110 beds, about a third the number of Saint Mary’s Medical Center. Pretty small by comparison. It also is home to one of Burundi’s three surgeons and one of its two ophthalmologists. It’s a small hospital, but it’s a place where the lame walk and the blind see, because God is at work there. That’s gigantic.
We live in confusing times. People all around us get lost in the meaninglessness of these confusing times – work colleagues, neighbors, friends, family members. We see it all the time. Driving by or invited into our little church, strangers become visitors and visitors hear the gospel preached and taught and lived, and the gospel transforms lives and our little family grows. There are stories, maybe we ought to tell them more often, of the lost being found at LPC. That’s gigantic.
A Small Church in God’s Big Universe Called to do Gigantic Things. It’s a terrible tag line, a silly motto. But it is true.
See you Sunday.