Pastor’s ponderings

Where do you see God at work in your life? Where do you feel Jesus’ presence?  Where do you bear witness to the Holy Spirit’s movement?  Is it just at church on Sunday morning or a mid-week Bible study?  Or, can you experience God in other ways, in other places, and at other times?  This is something a lot of people wrestle with.  Certainly, we want to see the pews full on Sunday morning, don’t we? We want others to experience the fellowship of believers during study, worship, singing, and prayer, which our churches can provide.  We want them to know that there are people right alongside them in their faith journey.  That is why we gather on Sunday mornings.  But, we honestly have to recognize – is church the only place where God is?

            I have become quite a fan of pickleball.  I’ve written about some of my other experiences with the sport in prior ponderings, but this past Friday showed me yet another example of God’s presence being outside the church.  I was sitting on the bench in-between games and watching another match that was going on.  As I was doing so, I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “This is what the Kingdom looks like.”  I started to pay a whole lot more attention to what was going on and then recognized who was on the court in that moment.  There were people of different genders, races and socio-economic backgrounds, and one team was comprised of an 8-year-old and an 89-year-old, playing side by side together (and doing quite well I might add)!  Talk about diversity and inclusiveness!  Talk about generations walking alongside one another!  Talk about a bold witness to such a divided society as we are currently experiencing in our land!

            Paul told the Romans, “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are” (Rom 12:16, NRSV), and that day on the pickleball court showed me what harmony really looks like.  No one felt they were better than another.  No one judged another player’s background or ability.  Instead, they just kept playing alongside them, encouraging one another, lifting one another up in ways we don’t regularly get to see in the world today.  God’s grace was there, having prepared everyone’s hearts.  The love of Jesus was there, being shared with everyone in the room.  The Holy Spirit was stirring hearts in so many ways.  That pickleball group is a true community – loving one another in ways that some don’t get to experience outside of those courts.

            Which made me think – perhaps the church today has something to learn from this.  Perhaps church goers today all need to experience something like that day on the pickleball court, so that we can see how God is on the move in so many places, outside the walls of our sanctuaries and fellowship halls.  Perhaps, for even just a moment, we just need to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to see – Jesus is with us wherever we go, if only we are willing to pay attention.  Where can you experience the Holy Spirit at work in your life and community today?

                                                Always pondering,       Pastor Steve

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