There are times I really love my church.
Sunday morning we saw a video about one of our members who felt led by the Lord to start an annual toy drive for a town in Kentucky that was devastated by the closure of its coal(?) mine. She's quite a dynamo, and it's amazing how much she collects from her neighborhood and beyond - it looked like at least 3 big U-Haul trucks' worth. There are ladies in the Kentucky town who were praying for help, and they never imagined it would come from a rich Atlanta suburb they probably never had even heard of. And many in the town have now been touched by the love of Christ that compelled this housewife to do something she would never have dreamed of, either.
As I watched this video, I thought how wonderful it is that I go to a church where people take the initiative to meet needs and don't just sit back and wait for the paid professionals to do something. And I also love how the church was willing to praise this venture to the congregation, even though this wasn't a "church-sponsored" outreach. That's a sign of being more concerned about spreading the kingdom of God than the kingdom of Perimeter Church, and that's a good thing.
And then, Sunday evening, I was back at church, sitting next to a new Christian during our Christmas program. This guy grew up Hindu but came to faith in Christ while working on a graduate degree here in the U.S. He moved to Atlanta recently to take a job and somehow ended up going to our church. As the program went on, we listened to songs and monologues and watched some ballet. Toward the end, he turned to me and asked, "What is 'Emmanuel'?"
What, indeed? Emmanu-El, "With us is God," "God with us." Since childhood, I've sung the song. "Emmanuel" is part of my culture, but a new term to this new believer. Shortly after his question, a singer sang about how children see Jesus as white, Asian, or black, according to what they are. And the dancers were white, Asian, and black children. I love how the Gospel is not a "Western" thing or an "American" thing, but a "World" thing. And I love how we have a number of people from around the world in our congregation. And I love how some of them have only recently met Jesus. And I love how new believers remind us of the wonder of the faith, when we "old hands" take so many things for granted. May their number increase among us.
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" - which means, "God with us." -- Matthew 1.23