Tomorrow marks the sixteenth anniversary of the first official worship service of The Church at Shelby Crossings. It was Sunday morning, January 7, 2001 when the church gathered publicly to worship at Valley Intermediate School in Pelham. Much has transpired in the life of this community of faith since that day, and there are many things God has done worthy of celebration.
I was wondering what the traditional gift is to celebrate a milestone of a “sweet sixteen” anniversary. I mean, we all know that 25 years is a Silver Anniversary, and 50 is a Golden Anniversary, so what is it for a sixteen years? So, I went to the source of all knowledge–Google–and discovered that the gift that signifies a sixteenth anniversary is….and I’m not making this up…wax.
Not exactly a gift to remember, though I would have to say it would also be hard to forget. We should be ready to celebrate, at least until we clean up the spilled wax from the Advent candles from a few weeks back. Either way, I guess it doesn’t really matter what precious metal or stone (or wax) that we use to signify such an occasion. But it does matter that we stop, and reflect, and remember, and thank God for all the great things He has done in the life of our church over the past sixteen years.
I can say I have been here for more than a dozen of those years, first as a member of the congregation for almost five years, and then as pastor for these last seven and a half years There has been some rough times, no doubt, but the Lord has been gracious to us through it all. He has pruned up, healed us, changed us, grown us and used us in our community and around the world, and for that I am grateful.
The reality is, there are not a lot of folks left among us who were there for that first worship service in 2001, but for those faithful few who have hung in there for the whole sixteen years, we say…thank you. And, even as we celebrate God’s work in His church so far, we hold to the words of the apostle Paul, who wrote of “forgetting what lies behind, and reaching forward to what lies ahead, we press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13)
We may live in a time that seems to be getting darker by the moment, but there are bright days ahead for the Lord’s church, and for this local body that we call Shelby Crossings. We continue to seek to be a “diverse community of believers committed to developing passionate followers of Christ to impact the world.” I hope you’ll commit to investing your lives into the Kingdom work He in doing in and through this faith family, as we seek to walk with Him and share His gospel faithfully with our community in 2017.
Let me close with more words from Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, which speak to us today at the church at Shelby Crossings: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6, NAS)
I am thankful for you, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.