The rain is holding off and Ellwood Park is promising to be packed with all kinds of holy potential tonight for our second annual “Gifted 2 Go” Community Cookout. We’ve mailed out nearly 1,300 invitations to our residential and commercial neighbors who live and work around our church building. And last Wednesday we knocked doors and handed out homemade cookies and advertisements to a more concentrated area of about 500 houses. Scott Flow’s got the barbecue grills roaring and several teams of people right now are packing ice chests with cold water, slicing onions and tomatoes, and setting up tables and canopies and chairs.
No Bible classes tonight at Central. No formal worship event in the chapel or gathering in Sneed Hall. Tonight, the Central Church of Christ is at the huge downtown park a block-and-a-half north of our building to take the gift of God’s mercy and love to our neighbors.
You know, the church is at its very best when we give up home field advantage. When we take our God-given talents and abilities on the road, that’s when we’re the most effective in doing what our Lord has empowered us by his Spirit to do.
When we look at our Christ in the Gospels, we don’t see him huddled up with his disciples in a building somewhere looking for inspiration or more knowledge. Yes, Jesus spent time in prayer and meditation, he spent time alone with his God and with his apostles. And, yeah, the biblical witness is clear that Jesus was a fixture at regular corporate worship gatherings and thought they were crucial to a life lived in relationship with the Father. But, more than that, we see Jesus outside the walls of the temple, beyond the confines of the synagogue, with the people. He walks and talks with the people around Galilee and Jerusalem. He climbs mountains to teach the people. He goes to their places of work and recreation. He goes to their parties and civic functions. He goes outside his own community to mix with people of different socio-economic brackets, different religious beliefs, different nationalities and genders. Jesus throws a picnic for four and five thousand people and provides all the food! And the whole time he’s blessing. Blessing. Blessing the people. Encouraging the people. Painting a picture of the Kingdom of God for the people.
That’s the goal tonight at Ellwood Park. Everybody in Amarillo is invited. If you don’t live in our town, I beg you to please pray for what God wants to do here tonight.