Summary: On the 30th anniversary of this congregation, let us remember how great is the bond that unites us.
We are Family
Cornwall 30th anniversary service
July 26, 2003
Good afternoon everyone. It’s wonderful to be together with so many of you today. Thank you for traveling here from some distances and for planning to join together today for this special service- an early celebration of this congregation’s 30th anniversary- 30 years of this church in this Cornwall area.
We are gathered as a group that spent time together over those 30 years, different of us at different times. I, for instance, am a ‘Johnny come lately’, having been here for only a bit over 4 years so far. Some of you go way back to the beginning or near the beginning- it’s hard to imagine how quickly 30 years pass, but I remember that in July 1973 I was working in a hotel in Brandon, Manitoba- about to return to California for my second year at Ambassador College. It doesn’t seem that far back- time speeds by, it seems.
We are gathered as a group that worshipped together for many years. I know there will be remembering of some of the Spokesman Club evenings and meetings you’ve been together, including the Ladies’ Nights. You’ll remember some of the picnics you’ve had together- I’ve heard of many different locations you have had those picnics; tomorrow, we’ll meet at the Langs’ farm. You’ll recall some of the festivals you celebrated together and, maybe, some of the trips some of you took together en route to one in the fall. I’m sure you’ll share memories of some who are not here and who weren’t able to make it and of some who have passed away, too.
We’re together, but how did we come together in the first place? Each of us was brought ‘here’ because of the favour and calling of God who was doing something important in each of our lives.
John 6.44- Jesus speaks of the reality of ‘calling’, where God brings people to Jesus. Somehow He opens ears and eyes at important junctures in our lives and allows us to hear his calling to us. He allows us to choose, of course, because the ‘coming’ is in our realm or activity, it appears, but he’s there ‘calling’. We all know that, in life, sometimes we hear and sometimes we don’t. Our wife might be calling us from outside to go out and to help dig something in the garden. Sometimes, we might legitimately not hear- maybe there is a radio or TV on, or other background sound. Sometimes, we choose to not hear, being distracted by something else like a book we’re reading or even, simply, by our desire not to go out and help in that way at that time. Well, we don’t know how loudly or how long God had to call each of us, but we know that He did. That’s how we got to be here in the first place.
Eph. 2.2-7- these verses tell us that our being here is very much a ‘God thing’. It’s not a ’you’ or me ‘thing’, in the end, but it is reality and was reality, and has been for whatever period of time, because of God and Him alone. He drew us from wherever we were in our lives. He reached down and interrupted our lives at a time of His choosing. It had nothing to do with what was most convenient to us. It had nothing to do with our deciding to call out to Him. It had everything to do with Him, and He drew us not to some mediocre place, but into the heavenly realm- v. 6. Verse 7 tells us that this is part of some long-term plan- the ongoing addition to the book of Acts- in that He’s in the midst of showing, both now and long-term, what he’s doing for us through Jesus Christ.
v. 12-14a- Jesus, of course, is the key. He is the one through whom we come to the Father, and we’ve always known that in our church, and always preached and taught that. Our coming together was very much a ‘God thing’, and I love that focus and find it very centering and helpful in my life. I must remember that the centre is not me but Jesus, who is the one through whom we learn about and come to God.
So, we are gathered because God did something special in our lives at one time in the past. We gathered together and worshipped and played together despite all the differences, and, without question, there are so many differences. Think about those of this congregation that you know and think, for a few moments, of all the differences. Think of the different tastes in music. Think of the different tastes in cars, clothing, food, jobs, houses, national background, number of children, married or not married, male or female. We can make quite an impressive list of the differences, yet, despite all those, we have worshipped and played and worked together as a congregation in Cornwall for 30 years! How is that possible? How could we ride over the differences? Oh, I’m sure that some of the differences were hard for some to ride over and work with- some always are for some people because of background or prejudices or past teaching or any number of other reasons. But you and I have done it. But how, in the final analysis, have we done it?