“God’s New Community”
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul tells us: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” God was not forced by either logic or social pressure to adopt believers as children. He took pleasure in willing their adoption and in planning and executing that action. Paul saw, in other words, that God the Father had provided abundantly for believers. God had gone beyond forgiving their sins.
From the beginning, God had established a plan by which sinners not only be pardoned but parented, not only absolved but adopted. Such a plan can be attributed only to grace. In the divine plan, acquittal has been followed by adoption, and believers, as God’s children, have become “heirs with Christ” (Ro 8:17).
The work of Christ was determined prior to creation. Through the Son, the salvation of God’s people was to be accomplished; through Jesus, God would comprise his people, choosing as his, those who accepted Jesus as his Son and their Savior. More important, however, is the goal God had in mind for those chosen through Christ. The plan of the Father was that they should be holy and blameless in his sight, not only absolved of guilt, but sharing in the nature of the Trinity. The emphasis here is not on the choosing so much as on the condition of the choosing.
Paul tells us that the gift we have received, the gift of new life, is so that we might live for the praise of God’s glory. That’s what this worship is about. Praising God. Praise is the beginning and the end. And in the heart is the call to praise, to a life of praise. This is what living the celebration means: living a life of praise.
That is why we need to be careful and not speak of a return to normalcy. We aren’t returning to anything; we are going forward. We are embracing the new thing that God is doing in our midst. We celebrate the new community that we have become. Even if it is the same people, we are renewed and revived by our attention to the Advent and Christmas season.
We didn’t endure all that went before; we were transformed by it. What that transformation looks like is still being worked out. Maybe the time apart and online has made us a new community, longing to see one another face to face. We took that for granted before. Now it is the core of our being. Maybe if we took “a sabbatical” during the pandemic and didn’t meet or do very much online, now we are looking forward to becoming a new community of faith born out of separation and distance. If you want to be part of that “new community”, and are looking for a place to believe, to belong, and to be useful, please call or text me at 432-207-2116 for locations and times.