A special note for the Burns Flat CPC following the Don't dread the test message.
We--the Burns Flat Cumberland Presbyterian Church--have been in this building 10 years this month.
Sometimes it seems that we have been here 100 years and at other times it seems like just yesterday we were moving pews into the sanctuary.
This church body has been given a test over the past decade. We acted in faith with our finances and were able to afford a church that we could not afford.
God blessed us but then he put us to the test.
How is God testing us?
The test may not seem obvious, but it is a test nonetheless.
Having been blessed with this building and its furnishings and the banners and paintings on the wall, what would we do with them?
What would we do with them?
Would we cherish them as our own treasures, admire them, and protect them?
Would we worship them?
Or would we take what God has given us and put it to use?
Yes, we still have a building loan payment to make each month.
Yes, there is some wear and tear on the building and some maintenance required.
But the building is not central to our lives as a church. The building was a blessing and the test was what would we do with it.
The test was would we continue the mission of the church equipped with an even greater asset or be content with our blessing?
You know the answer.
You see the answer in a building that is never picture perfect. A mission or a program or an event is always in preparation and one is being wrapped up.
There are winter coats hanging in the fellowship hall in the summer and boxes of supplies waiting to go to Africa next year.
Boy Scouts and alcoholics use the same space to make their life count for something.
And then there is Vacation Bible School. For a few weeks each summer the building becomes an ocean, the wild west, or a jungle.
We have swept enough straw out of the sanctuary to feed a small herd for a day or two.
And of course there is the after VBS, OK where did we put the pulpit search.
And there is the attic full of plastic Easter eggs. Yes, we are saving those pagan symbols in this holy place so next year we can lure kids and their parents into the field behind us. They will come seeking candy and leave with the bread of life.
But before that happens, we will entice children dressed as superheroes or ghoulish creatures to come for candy without having to hunt for it.
The words trick or treat will be returned with God loves you.
Don’t worry. Both events will still have enough candy to make sure the kids have stomach aches before they go to bed.
And then come the days when this old grocery store looks like a grocery store again. Boxes of food await people who did not have to qualify for anything. They just needed to let us know they needed a little help.
Wednesday meals, Tuesday meals, meals before football games, showers, weddings, classes, lock-ins, 5th quarters, and the list goes on.
And there have been those days when the church smelled like Bruschetta or looked like someone was having a yard sale, mainly because we were.
God blessed us and then he put us to the test.
We have not dreaded the test.
In fact, I think we are headed very much in the direction God wants us to go.
God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son—the son through whom the rest of the story would follow.
God wanted to see if he was still first in Abraham’s life. Abraham proved that God was first.
We have taken the blessings bestowed upon us by God and said to God, “You are still first!”
We will take what you have given us and we will use it to further your kingdom.
We don’t dread the test.
Abraham heard that in his seed all of the nations of the world will be blessed because you have obeyed my voice.
We long to hear similar words. We long to hear well done good and faithful servant.
We know that our salvation comes by grace alone, but that having received many blessings we are tested as to what we will do with them.
And we say, “God, you are first in my life. All I have is yours. All I have, I will gladly return to you.”