Guest blogger Tom Grosh finishes up his series on Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church’s centennial celebrations with this post about the congregation’s worship. Thanks to Tom for his contributions!
Only having been a part of Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ (EBIC) and the Brethren in Christ for about four years, I wasn’t sure what to expect when entering EBIC’s Centennial Celebration. The displays of historical artifacts and newspaper clippings, the historical images, and the sharing times were not only a significant learning experience, but also a testimony to the joy many find in calling EBIC “home” as they actively worship with the people of God across generations.
More on Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church’s centennial celebrations, after the jump.
Even more important than the artifacts, the institutional history, the family connections, and the special music, was the celebration’s centering upon the worship of God directed by the Word and Spirit of God through our changing times and culture. Dr. Bob Ives, one of the guest speakers, concluded his sermon “Rooted in His Love” (based on Ephesians 3:14-21) with the exhortation:
No church is perfect. No church does everything any individual would like to see, just like your kids – or you when you were a kid – sometimes argue or fight, or complain. But look! There is Jesus sitting in your family living room. He’s the one who gives hope for this church over the next hundred years.
Amen! How important it is in the midst of celebration to confess our imperfections, i.e., refusing to yearn for an idealized golden area or gloss over our current shortfalls as we take next steps. Then once again, placing our trust in Jesus instead of resting upon our laurels, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, or launching a new strategic plan/campaign.
Lord willing, our journey at EBIC and more broadly as the Brethren in Christ is to continue to be guided and marked by worship of God receiving direction by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. I can’t better summarize the value of the historic and continuing role/blessing of worship through music at EBIC than Bryan Leaman, EBIC‘s director of music ministries.
The congregation knew they made a difference in worship. Out of this mind-set grew a desire for many to provide more outlets for the worship of God through music. …
[During our Centennial Celebration,] I wanted them to hear people worshiping beside them. I wanted the truths of the words in the music to become real and meaningful to them not only because they were hearing it, but because they were making it. I wanted them to see the joy of making music together for the glory of God through the sharing of song by various choirs- youth, adult, and men’s.
I hope EBIC can hold on to this wonderful example of the generations before us. Our participation in worship matters to God!
Amen! Quite honestly, when returning to Lancaster County, Pa., I never expected to find a local congregation for our family to call “home” in such a deep and rich manner — particularly one so close to our house, in such a short time. But as I briefly shared in my earlier post, we have and give God the glory! May EBIC and the Brethren in Christ as whole continue to lean upon and receive their vision from Jesus the Christ. We rest our hope for today, tomorrow, next week, next year, the next 100 years in Christ alone.
For more images from Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church’s centennial celebration, visit their Facebook page.
* Dr. Bob Ives, pastor emeritus of the Grantham Brethren in Christ Church, served as an interim preaching pastor at EBIC from 2007-08. Note: Dr. Craig Sider — former bishop of the Atlantic Conference, member of Elizabethtown Brethren, and director of the Center for Servant Leadership at Evangelical Theological Seminary (Myerstown, Pa.) — also preached during the morning worship service. His sermon was “EBIC’s Future: Where Do You Fit?” (based on Matthew 28:18-20).