April 29 – My Refrigerator – Rev. Mark Thompson

On my refrigerator, like many parents with children at home, I have cherished artwork from their child hood.  The one that grabs my attention the most is my son’s masterpiece of Jonah and the whale.  I remember when he brought this home from church and I was so impressed with the creativity and time his teacher put into this lesson for my son to learn he should never to run from God.  I could have taught my son the story of Jonah.  I could have preached him a whole sermon series and probably have.  What I would not have done on my own is come up with a craft for my son to literally put Jonah inside the whale.  This is an amazing visual.  I love it.  I love the excitement my family has for going to church.  I love that the church reinforces the teachings of our home about God.

I was raised in an American Baptist Church.  I was given a pocket Bible from that church just 7 days after my birth.  I have always gone.  I have never in my life missed two weeks of church in a row.  I love the church and I pray that my children always do too.  We worship every Sunday morning online right now.  It’s the best we can do for our current situation.  I am grateful for the hard work so many pastors and church leaders have put in to making corporate worship possible.  I know the church has never been about the building.  I know we continue the Great Commission without brick and mortar.  I know first century churches met in homes.  I also have seen God use the brick and mortar of a church building for His glory and purpose.  I cannot imagine where my life would be without the church.  I do not mean now as a Regional Minister.  I mean way back when a dear woman every child in the church called Granny and another saint named Miss June would give pretzel rods to me as a 2 year old in the church nursery.  I am grateful for the many people who poured into my life the living Word of God as well as their personal life testimony.  I cannot imagine where I would be without the church.

In the coming weeks many believers will be facing a choice.  A few pastors have expressed concern that if they continue online worship, they fear some members will choose just to stay home.  I know for some that may be the healthiest option.  I want the rest of us to think about our best church memories.  I want us to think about our children and their many Bible crafts brought home from Sunday School.  I want you to think about the number of people who have poured into your life and walk in the Lord.  If this is not enough to get you back in the building, I want you to think about the number of people who need your presence and understanding of God to be spoken in to their life.

When we are safely allowed back to corporate worship in our buildings, it should be one of the greatest celebrations of our church life.  I think of how undignified King David became upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant.  His joy could not be hidden.  Another example of the change that comes from worshiping God is found in one of my favorite Psalms. In Psalms 73, we read of a worship leader who questions if following God is worth it as the world seems to prosper.  The one thing that turns him back to joy and clears his perspective is entering the sanctuary of God.  In that moment, his heart changes and he realizes he would not trade that sanctuary for any place else on earth.  This joy from the Holy Spirit is what I find heading back to church.  I love the church.