September Church Rhythms

“Where two or three are gathered in my name,
I am there among them.”
[Jesus, Matthew 18:15-22, NRSV]

This month, all over Indiana and Kentucky and across the country, congregations and other communities of faith, large and small, urban and rural and everywhere in between, return to the regular rhythms of congregational life. Sunday School and other education and formation classes crank up. Committees and councils begin to meet again at their appointed hour on whatever second Monday or third Thursday of the month is theirs. Worship attendance returns (we pray!) to its post-vacation season levels. Regular trips to the food pantry or other places of service ministry resume.

The month of September is a busy time, an exciting time, a hopeful and even a tense time in the life of the people of God.

It’s also a holy time.

I suspect – actually I know from my own experience – that in the midst of all the planning and preparation and publicity and implementation for this autumn advent we tend to forget that there is something more than just human activity going on. This is not just a class or coffee klatch or kid’s program or adult fellowship we are preparing or engaging. As incredible as it may sound given some of the things we do when we are together, it’s all part of the gracious reign of God come near and it’s steeped in promise.

Where two or three are gathered in my name, Jesus promises, I am there among them.

Where Jesus is, God’s reign comes near and things happen; people – and worlds – are changed.

Where Jesus is, forgiveness is offered, received, and shared. Tattered lives are held together in love and healed by grace. Deep, holy hospitality is offered to people who are lonely or wandering or hurting, including even those who show up every Sunday morning or Tuesday night. Broken-bodied, poured-out love is offered and available for all in Sunday School classes and discussion groups, in worship and the coffee hour, in prayer groups and committee meetings, in parking lot conversations and quiet moments in a corner of the narthex…Jesus is there; lives are changed.

This is holy time.

Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

Interestingly, Jesus spoke this world-altering promise near the conclusion of a brief discussion about how to deal with broken relationships in the body of Christ. Surely somewhere along the way this fall, in the midst of the meetings and studies and conversations we now resume, something will go wrong, the fabric of our life together will tear. Even there, where some sin, some selfishness, some hurt or misunderstanding threatens to unravel our life together, even there the promise holds: I am among you. Even there the love we know from a wooden cross and an empty tomb draws near with life-changing, new-world rendering power and grace.

Thankfully, in the midst of all the busyness, the planning, the worry, the hope, the challenge, the joy, the brokenness of autumn days is Jesus, crucified and risen. These are holy days. This is holy work. Jesus is afoot.
Creative Commons License
Table Scraps by William O. Gafkjen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.