I grew up in Columbia, SC. By the time I was in high school and certainly by college, I had heard of “Five Points.” It was an area located near the University of South Carolina where five roads intersected and created a hustling, bustling area of shops, bars, and restaurants. Everybody knew where Five Points was in Columbia.
St. John’s has been experiencing “three points” as we have been celebrating multiple anniversaries throughout 2017. Everyone knows these anniversaries, but let’s list them one more time: the 200th anniversary of our sanctuary building, the 275th anniversary of our congregation, and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. With everything going on in our celebrations throughout the year, it has truly been a great year. We have one more concert (November 3rd) and one more lecture (November 9th) and then the official celebration will be over. But what a wonderful year!
At the Anniversary Banquet held on Friday, October 20th, our guest speaker, the Reverend Dr. Mark Granquist spoke about our long, rich history and encouraged us to be proud of that history as it identifies us and helps us share the gospel. I think Mark is correct when he encourages us to be proud of our church, her history, and the foundation that St. John’s provides us as we endeavor to live out the great commission – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” With that being said and understood, let’s give serious thought to our response to the Great Commission and how we and our church are living out that Commission.
In the prayers of the church each Sunday, there is most often a petition offered that says something about making all our churches places of welcome where people may come and meet the Lord Jesus Christ. Over and over again people tell me how friendly and welcoming our congregation is to each other and visitors alike. And I know that’s true. I see you speaking to visitors and telling them how glad you are that they have come. Thank you. That helps to make St. John’s a place where people can and do feel welcome.
Now, may I encourage you to go out on a limb? Would you be willing to greet and welcome the people you meet in the world with an invitation to experience the presence of Christ in our midst when we are at worship or involved in activities? Do you think you could invite someone who does not have a church home to come with you to worship? Perhaps the thought of issuing an invitation to come to church feels terrifying to you and you just know that if you do that, someone will think you are a religious fanatic. But, consider all the other things we invite people to participate in with us. We invite people to go out to eat with us. We invite people to sporting events. We invite people to come to our civic clubs with us. If the truth be known, we invite people to come with us and do the things we enjoy and value. Try inviting someone to come with you to the place where you are spiritually nourished and fed, where you experience the presence of God, and where your family of faith gathers every week. Invite someone to come and experience the joy of worship as they learn about a loving God.
A part of having a fantastic past is a willingness to share it and take it into the future. God has blessed St. John’s and all its members with a rich history of ministry. Let’s be a blessing to others by inviting them to share what we love and enjoy. After all, this is one place where faith and life intersect as we hear of mercy and forgiveness. Who could turn down an invitation to such a great event?
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Butler +