As a pastor, there are many things that bring me joy. I get to be a part of weddings, baptisms, professions of faith and new memberships. I see prayers answered, steps of faith taken, scripture speaking to hearts. I get to laugh with the Senior Bible Study. The Ladies Bible study shares their goodies with me. Sometimes I get invited places and, Surprise! I get to pray for dinner! I get to see the excitement of the kids' faces as they come to the front of church before going downstairs for the Little Learners ministry. There is so much joy to be shared!
Recently I was reminded of so much joy; I got to baptize my son. Baptism is one of my favorite things as a pastor. I get to communicate God's grace and covenant promises. I get to see an adult or the parents of a child come forward with pride and joy. But to be on the other side of it was special. To be able to answer the covenant questions with Amy about how we believe in Jesus and promise to raise our son in the faith, then hear the congregation respond with a promise to support us and help raise him was a profound blessing. It's a special reminder that while I get to serve as a pastor, I also get to walk with you all as a fellow believer, a parent, a husband, a friend, a disciple needing God's grace like us all.
I was reminded of Philippians 1:3-6
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Paul's letter to the believers in Philippi is full of joy because of their faithful partnership in the gospel. Even though Paul is in prison, he has confidence that the gospel of Jesus Christ is being shared and reinforced because of the faithfulness of the local church. He is assured that Jesus will finish what he started in and through this people until Christ comes again. What a great joy! Today, I share that joy of knowing that we belong to God and live together in his family through faith in Jesus Christ. As a church we press on toward the goal of growing disciples who transform lives for Christ. We look to improve upon what God has given us already, and look for new ways to follow him into the days ahead. As we work with him, God gives us the gift of pausing to remember the reasons for much joy. Do we savor the joy of belonging to him? Do we savor the joy of seeing how he blesses us?
I just want to say it's a joy to be partnering with you all today. I consider it great joy to see generations upon generations pass on the faith of Jesus. I consider it great joy to see many of you using your gifts for God's glory both within and outside the church. I consider it great joy to know our church has strong ministries for our children. I consider it joy to know that this church family walks alongside us as fellow believers. For that, I am so grateful to partner in the gospel with you all.