WE ARE THE EMPOWERED REMNANT
ďI have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that . . . with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which God has called you . . . what is the immeasurable greatness of Godís power for us who believe.Ē (Ephesians 1.15-20)
We were having a serious discussion at Trinity (Sheraden) about the future of the congregation. We were a little overwhelmed by the physical condition of the building, the expenses of the ministry coupled with a decreasing membership. One of the members, Mike Long, suggested we needed to develop a new understanding of who we are. He said we are like a remnant of the former substantial Trinity Lutheran Congregation. We should plan for the future with this image of the remnant in our heads.
I thought of St. Paulís opening words to the church in Ephesus. Undoubtedly the small band of Ephesian Christians must have felt the odds were set against them. Ephesus was a prominent, large city. Its values centered around the Temple of Diana which stood on the hill above the city. Ephesus was a pagan city fully engulfed in Roman culture and domination.
Yet, St. Paul says they have maintained their faith in Jesus Christ and have shared their love towards all the saints. His words of encouragement include a reminder that the power of God is great among them. Do not give up hope no matter how small you are or how limited you think your resources are. As you remain faithful, trusting in Godís goodness and the salvation that is already ours, you can step forward even in a modest way. From those modest beginnings, God will add the growth necessary to do even greater things.
Our PLUM congregations may understand themselves as a remnant but we are a remnant that has been sustained by God. God has sustained us for a reason Ė we have a mission. As the old Gospel song says: ďGod isnít done with you yet!Ē
Here is fertile ground for thanksgiving and gratitude as we move towards the annual Day of Thanksgiving. Look around you on Sunday morning and say a prayer of gratitude for the person you see. As we travel from congregation to congregation, our trust in Godís working among us is fueled by the members who are over 80 years old and who sit in the pews in front of us. They are the sign of Godís continued goodness and the unending presence of God walking with us year after year.
Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God; for God is good and Godís mercy endures forever. Amen.
+Pastor Paul Koch
On behalf of the PLUM Pastoral Staff
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sheraden, 3102 Sherwood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15204 412-331-0600