Why Do You Do What You Do?
Beloved, We are approaching the second Sunday in the month of June. We are entering our fourth and final phase of our return to normalcy plan. Masking will be optional and social distancing will be relaxed. This Sunday with the exception of those who choose to wear masks or choose to separate themselves will look the most normal for us as a church family since Covid-19 began to be a part of our reality and worship practices. We have earnestly and diligently tried to keep the church family safe and healthy with announcements of valid information from authoritative sources. We have collaborated in finding ways to meet in a fashion that will not compromise your ability to gather and leave with little concern regarding transmission of Covid-19. We have intentionally encouraged and created bridges of connection virtually primarily and in-person when possible to make sure that the church family has been able to remain a church family under difficult circumstances. Basically, we have been making it through. We have looked out for each other. And, we are being blessed in our coming and going with each other. With boastful pride in the protection provided to us by God, I am so encouraged by this great and growing church, Zion Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, a church that loves in word and in deed. The Holy Spirit has been our guide during this time as we have tried to wisely follow the direction of God and God has rewarded our faithfulness as we approach this upcoming Sunday, what I have termed "Hugs Sunday". Beloved, it could have been another way. I, as your pastor, could have simply shuttered the church and told you I would see you again when all was clear, not knowing what that might mean. I, as a self-interested person, could have simply looked out for those in my personal household and ignored those in the household of faith. I, as a selfish person, could have simply thought about what was best for me and mine and wished you well with you and yours. Some chose that path. Not me and not Zion Memorial. Instead, we allowed God to lead us creatively and imaginatively in moving forward in these difficult and trying times that I do believe have made us stronger as a church family, still not perfect but getting better each and every day. Collectively, I believe we have breathed life into the words of Philippians 2:3-5, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus." Beloved, why have we done the things that we have done? Because we are Christians and that is what we are supposed to do. During this time, any true rewards for us are likely accrued in the heavenly realm where God looks upon all of our works and judges them, not as meritorious of salvation but as evidence that we know that we are saved. We have placed the collective interests of the church above our own self-centered selfishness and we are better for having done so. Prior to Covid-19, people would comment on the love that they felt in our presence. We have not and will not lose that as long as we remember that it is Christ we are following after and not compliments revealing our Christianity. As Christ poured Himself out for us, may we be filled with His Spirit and His mind to pour ourselves out for others. As we have been blessed, let us continue to desire to be a blessing. Beloved church family, we have done well. For that I am pleased. But, what gets me more excited is the better that God has for us to do as we continue to endeavor to give God praise, honor, and glory in all that we do. Christ gave His best to all. Christians should do the same. Zion Memorial should do the same. My hope and my prayer is that when you ask yourself, "Why do you do what you do?", you can answer, "Because I am trying to be like my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ." In being like Jesus, we will gather today for Noonday Prayer because Jesus prayed always. In being like Jesus, we will listen to Zion's sermonic message at 3pm on The Light radio and internet station because Jesus proclaimed the Good News, the Gospel, for others to hear. In being like Jesus, we will connect for HOPE Wednesday, our last session, at 6:30pm because knowledge of the word of God is the only way we can be more like Jesus. In being like Jesus, we will be at worship service on Sunday because Jesus always sought to build community with His believers. And, in each "we" that was stated, I am intentionally including you if it is possible and if you are willing. Beloved, it is your choice as to whether you will strive to thrive and flourish as a Christian, as a Christ follower. I encourage you to do so but you do not have to. But, please do this for yourself. Answer the question, honestly, "Why do you do what you do?" As you seek out the answer, please do remember that God loves you and I love you too! Be blessed, Rev. Cain