I’ve been having lunch at least once a month with the other three downtown pastors for more than two years. We’ve become really good friends and partners in the Gospel. It’s been a year since the leadership groups from all four churches met at Polk Street Methodist to pray together about what God might do with us. Eleven months ago we collaborated for the first time by collecting and packing and delivering school supplies to four downtown area elementary schools. It was eight months ago when we all gathered at First Baptist for that historic combined worship assembly. I was so honored to preach that night. I was privileged to preach the Maundy Thursday service at First Presbyterian three months ago. I was blessed to preach both services at Polk Street on a Sunday morning in April. Burt and Howard have both preached at Central in the past year. We worked together every day this past week. The “4 Amarillo” churches refurbished a house and ran two Bible school block parties and volunteered at a food bank. Together. We ate ice-cream together Wednesday night.
We’re so much more connected now than we’ve ever been. Ever. We know each other now. There’s a familiarity, a trust. The fear all seems to be gone. I think we’re comfortable with this now.
Yet, as I walked into First Baptist last night to join the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Baptists, and the Church of Christ-ers for a worship assembly to celebrate this first “4 Amarillo” week of service projects, I was almost overcome with a sense of the unexplainable. I was awed all over again by the fact that four standard-bearing churches in this city from four very distinct denominations were in the same room worshiping God together. Together.
It is our God who is doing these things in Amarillo. It’s not you. It’s not me. It’s not us. It is God who has brought us here. It’s not good timing, it’s not careful planning, it’s not marketing or location or good luck. It is God who works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose.
God is the power behind his Church. And it doesn’t matter if we believe it or not. It doesn’t matter if we acknowledge it or not. It’s the truth. We are instruments, willingly being used and used up by the Creator of Heaven and Earth to his glory for ever and ever.
Scripture is plain. The glorious riches of the mystery is “Christ in you.” Just like the apostle who wrote those words to the disciples in Colosse, we proclaim, we admonish, we teach, we labor, we struggle with all of his energy which so powerfully works within us.
The power of the Church is not in its activities or programs or talented people or leadership or money or numbers. And we’ve got more than our share of all those wonderful things. The power of the Church is God’s Holy Spirit living and moving inside us. And because of that reality, because of that fact, that living presence of God in us, we are learning to expect the impossible. More than we ever ask or imagine. It happens all the time around here. The unreal has become commonplace. The unexplainable is now anticipated.
I was humbled by the opportunity to speak for about five minutes at last night’s assembly. I was overwhelmed by the chance to be the one to introduce Ray Chavez, the gracious owner of the house on South Buchanan Street, to the overflow crowd of enthusiastic disciples who cheered him and showered him with the love of our Lord.
I’m having lunch with the other three preachers this Thursday, our regular monthly lunch at the Burger Bar on Polk Street. We’ll eat together and laugh, we’ll reflect on the week together and pray. And it will be a joy. It always is.
God, please help me to remember that not everybody gets to do this. God, thank you for making the unreal so commonplace around here. And, please, don’t ever let me take it for granted.