“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7
A seminary friend of mine, serving in another denomination, shares this story with us: This summer we were Methodists. We worshipped at a small Methodist church in the little town near our cabin in northeastern Oregon.
What did we find? Basically, we found the church being church – and it was a blessing to us.
We were warmly welcomed. Mostly. There was Sharon who sat down next to me one Sunday and told me I was in the place where she had sat every Sunday for fifty years, but I was welcome to stay if I moved over.
We prayed together, sang together, heard the story of Jesus, and were drawn into common labors. One of those was working at the “Magic Garden,” where the church grows vegetables for the local elementary school and town food bank.
One Sunday in August there was an emergency plea. A farmer, Gene, had died suddenly, a brain tumor. Gene’s family needed help right now with this year’s crop of beets, carrots and potatoes. Three dozen folks – Methodists, Catholics and maybe a Buddhist or two – showed up to work. It felt sort of like an old-time “barn-raising.”
There were the usual foibles. The announcements went on too long. When the microphone was passed for prayer concerns, some folks took the opportunity the make yet more announcements, after which the rest of us said, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Our real prayer was, “Don’t let that person have the microphone again, please Jesus.”
It was all pretty ordinary – an earthen vessel – and yet somehow the extraordinary power of God really was/ is at work in that church.
As a bit of an outsider I saw more clearly how amazing church is. It may not seem like much, but really it is. I wonder what my friend, Tony, would have experienced in our church? If it is some of the ones I have served, I know he would have found Jesus present in those churches.
Dear Lord, give us eyes to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, to see the beauty and power in the church, in our church, in and through Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace