Anticipating Our Church’s 50th Anniversary

Twofold Primary Audience – The Church specifically my local Church (but I’m writing the post for those unfamiliar with our names and history).

This weekend kicks off our 50th Church Anniversary and there’s a lot going on for everyone from Fellowship breakfasts, to a time for previous and current pastors and elders to meet one another, a church-wide dinner at an offsite reception hall and of course, our Sunday morning worship service. Without any exaggeration this has been in the works for a over a year. Many meetings, numerous discussions, financial commitments, sacrificial efforts, and so many other things are culminating this weekend.

Many miles are being driven and flights taken by many who have moved away will be coming back for this. Pastors who have served MEFC will be in the same room for the first time and people who are fairly new to our church will trade stories with those who had been here for years (and used to be here for years) listening to their stories. It will be the greatest fellowship dinner this church has ever known (insert the booming echo here).

In last week’s sermon, our senior pastor, Sam, spoke highly of this reunion, celebration, corporate worship extravaganza. But being a wise pastor, he also mentioned many of our collective concerns. Using the comparison of the church being a family, he reminded us of the complexities surrounding such a day. He even went so far to say that some are dreading this day due to many factors. He talked about how heavily congested highways see their share of accidents and in our 50 years of traffic, we’ve had a few accidents too. Ripples of awkward laughter ensued.

If you know me, you know I love a pastor that isn’t afraid to mention the realities (and talking about the Church’s hardships and disunity is among what I appreciate most about the New Testament and Israel in the Old). There have been a few things that have surprised me in good ways and some, in not good ways. There are some critical comments that have been made, more will be made, and perhaps even should be made. They are likely similar to every mission trip taken, wedding, holiday celebration and anything extravagant and/or sacrificial that we do. May we not be angered, disappointed, or further jaded.

I have been to numerous celebrations of birthdays, weddings, and other remembrances, it will be refreshing to celebrate a church anniversary. Why not? In some sense, we are breaking the expensive perfume and honoring the feet of Jesus. I am excited, here’s why: First, a 50 year old Protestant church is a special thing here in North Jersey. Further, in the 50 years, we as a church have made some colossal mistakes and some incredible sacrifices. And because we are human and the Lord is good, MEFC has kept moving. In the stories I hear, it’s treaded at times, backslid at times, soared at times, and sojourned through. That’s a pretty accurate portrait of the Christian journey if you ask me. Second, i have always enjoyed many elements of a multigenerational church (it’s complicated too and I would love to see us become more multi-cultural but that’s another post for another day). For me and others, it will be a blessing to me to see others blessed throughout the weekend, I know many agree and I hope these words remain true.

And lastly, I am expecting for me as an individual and for us a church, to remember some really important lessons that we may have missed recently. I am eager to see what we will do in response to our special anniversary. I have joined many in praying for this. What will we do in the next season of our congregation’s life? Will we take seriously our anniversary theme of “Remembering the Past and Embracing the Future”? Will this be seen merely as an event or will it be a pivotal moment, a catalyst where we as a Body trust the Holy Spirit as follow Jesus to honor the Father as we labor forward in the Kingdom? We’ll see and may we believe that Emmanuel is near and remember that in truth, this is His church.

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