Summary: The most important thing is rooting our lives in Christ. If we can do this, we can experience the fullness of Christ love, and we have the foundation we need to weather all of life's storms.
Today marks a special day in the life of this church. This morning, we are celebrating “Come Home Sunday”! In one respect, today marks a homecoming celebration. Many of you are here because you consider this your church home; you grew up here, you served here, you made life-long friends here. But today is more than just a homecoming; it is also a celebration of what Wesley Memorial will be—a point of HOPE in this community for years to come. And so it may be that some of you are here today not because this was once your church home, but because you are looking for a new church home. Whatever it may be that brings you here today, know this; God is doing amazing things in this place right now, and I am so glad that we are all gathered here today to see and to celebrate God’s continuing work in this place.
So let me tell you a little about what’s happening around here these days. Wesley Memorial has a rich history in this little Chattanooga suburb. For more than 70 years people from the neighborhoods around this church have joined in worship, plays, meals, sports, concerts, and so much more through this church. But as happens everywhere, things change; cultures change, neighborhoods change, people change. So back in January, a call was made down the road at Christ United Methodist Church for urban missionaries to partner with the congregation here at Wesley Memorial. Just a few weeks later, a Leadership Team began meeting to consider how Wesley Memorial might continue as a vital, relevant congregation in this place and this time. From very early on, our primary goal was to identify and address the needs and concerns of the people living in these neighborhoods around us. As the Leadership Team worked together, the word that God kept putting before us was HOPE. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, we knew that God was (and is!) calling this church, on this little point, to be a place of HOPE for this community.
I share that story with you all because I want you to know where we were, and where we are now. But the thing is, it’s one thing to discern that God is calling us to be HOPE Point @Wesley Memorial, and it’s quite another thing to actually be a church that offers the hope of Christ in the community and the world. So as the Leadership Team focused on this work of HOPE, the next step was to identify the attributes that would truly make this church a place of HOPE. And here’s where God led us: HOPE Point @Wesley Memorial UMC is: Rooted in Christ. Grounded in Hope. Growing in Grace. Giving in Love. So as this church begins our journey into God’s future, we will spend time over the next few weeks looking at each of these virtues, and what it means to be: Rooted in Christ. Grounded in Hope. Growing in Grace. And Giving in Love.
We begin this morning by thinking about what it means to be Rooted in Christ. When I preached my first sermon here a little over a year ago, I told you all that I wanted it to be the perfect sermon. And there were so many things I wanted to say, but that I finally came to the realization that I had many more sermons ahead of me and I would be able to share so many of those thoughts in the right time. I have to admit to you that I felt much the same struggle as I wrote this sermon. Because being rooted in Christ. That’s it. If we are not rooted in Christ, then nothing else matters, nothing else will work. Friends, I can try and say it a thousand different ways, but the message we need to hear today is that the most important thing in our lives is being rooted in Christ.
So let’s think about this for a minute. Has anyone ever asked you, what’s most important in your life? At some point in our lives, we’ve probably all given some thought to this question. And I imagine that if we were to go around the room this morning and each offer our personal responses, we’d actually find that we all have pretty similar answers. If we’re being pious, our list would probably go something like this: Christ, family, work, and so on. But if we’re being honest, our answers might rank in a different order. If our time is a reflection of what is most important in our lives, then the observable answer is probably work. But if our money is the reflection of what is most important in our lives, then it might be shopping, or nice cars, or big homes. The thing is, what we say is most important in our lives, and what is actually most important in our lives might not always line up.