Those who know me know that, among other hobbies, I like to follow baseball. I was born in Massachusetts so I have followed the Red Sox since the early 1960’s, over 50 years! (Though, having lived in St. Louis I also follow the Cardinals.) Last year was a dream season for Red Sox fans. The Sox started out the season hot, and continued in first place all year long. Their pitching was good. Team hitting was great. Their defense was above average, especially in the outfield. The Red Sox set a team record for wins in 2018. When playoff time arrived, many experts did not expect the Sox to do well. But, they won all their series convincingly and took home a World Series title!
This year, however, even thought the Red Sox have pretty much the same team they are having trouble winning. They had a losing record in April. Their hitting and pitching are not as good as last year’s team, and in some cases it has been just plain bad. The team barely has a .500 record for 2019. It is a joy to see a team where all its parts are working well. But, it is frustrating to see talent go unused. I guess, I have learned to be thankful when things do work together well.
With all that in mind I am thankful for the teamwork I saw last Saturday at the St. John Colony Days’ Picnic. We had plenty of volunteers, even though many of our regular volunteers from years past were out of town this year. Members donated plenty of food, and we even had beans left over. And, in spite of the fact that our big food order did not contain everything we ordered, we had folks running to the store and our food supply was sufficient all day long. Community and church members were generous, and donations covered all expenses. It is a joy to see God’s Church work as a team where all parts are working together well. I do know teamwork does not always happen. So, I have learned to be thankful when God’s people do work well.
God speaks through St. Paul to describe the way His Church is supposed to work. Instead of calling the church a team, Paul calls the church a “body.” Each part or person in the church has different abilities. And each part does its work. Listen to what God inspired Paul to write. “4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:4-7)
Churches are supposed to work together to spread God’s saving love in Jesus. But, we all know this doesn’t always happen — sort of like baseball teams. Sometimes, even when people want to work together, it is unclear what God would have us do. And sometimes, people and personalities can get in disagreements and conflict. We see many instances of such disagreement in Scripture. So we should not be too surprised when conflict occurs today.
We do need to remember, we are not God. He is the only one who is “all-wise.” We are not perfectly righteous in our actions. God is the only one who is totally merciful and holy. So sometimes things don’t work the way we hope. Sometimes things don’t work the way we think God wants them to work. That is why we need Jesus. He is our SAVIOR, who forgives our sins, and who leads us in the wisdom of God. But, when God’s church does work as HE intends, like a body; when each person uses their gifts for the good of the whole, it is a beautiful thing to behold such teamwork in this world of disagreement and conflict.
This week after we fed about 1200 people, I am thankful for all who contributed their time, their donations of food, and their resources. I am thankful for the joy I saw as God’s people worked together to serve our community. I am thankful for all the words of appreciation I heard from those who ate the food, listened to the music, and enjoyed a day “on the grounds.” I am especially thankful that our Lord worked in our midst and brought honor to His name. 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
It is a joy to see God’s church function as team where all its parts are working well. Thank you, Lord!