Paul is writing to the congregation in Ephesus and he is encouraging them in ministry, faith and the work of the Gospel. He is rejoicing in the decision they have made to follow Christ. He is celebrating their witness in Ephesus and beyond. He wants them to know more about Christ and the hope to which they have been called. He gives thanks.
I thought about this as they were dismantling the old furnace. About the giving of thanks – because yesterday someone had the foresight to know that furnaces do not last forever. A replacement fund was established towards that end – little by little over the years the fund has been growing, waiting for the day when it would be needed. As that day came on Monday we were faced not with a “major” crises but a minor one – we only needed a few hundred dollars rather then a few thousand to replace the furnace. For this, I give thanks.
Now, I know that this is not what Paul was giving thanks for. Paul probably did not know what a furnace was! What he was giving thanks for was for a people of faith. A people who took seriously the call of Jesus on their lives and who were taking steps to live out that faith in their daily lives – through their witness, through their giving and the way they helped and supported one another in the faith. Paul knew the importance being in community.
In some ways, our furnace fund is a witness to the faith of those in the past (some who are in the present also continued to give) – they had the faith that we would be around long enough to need a new furnace! (Yes, maybe I am stretching the point, maybe!) But, it is because of their faithfulness that we face a crisis rather than a crisis! And, we have been faithful to them by keeping the money for what it was intended – replacement of a furnace.
I am also thankful for the way you have responded to our pledge campaign for 2011 – more has been pledged than in 2010. And, for the pledges toward new windows and siding (over $750 a month – above and beyond regular giving). This means we will be able to move ahead with upgrading our facility and in many ways we will be witnessing to the community: we plan to be here for a long time to come!|
Our building is used by the community. We have several AA groups in here each week. We have three Girl Scout groups that use our facility – and of course, we have our Wings program. We are open to other groups using our facility – if we can fit them in! We want to be an outreach center – we are looking beyond today to tomorrow. Who knows what road our ministry may take – we are saying we want to be ready and able when God leads.
So, “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” — God has a great future before us – let us be willing to follow God's leading.