A Loveseat Adirondack Bench. A Table and chair set for some small children. Refurbishing a friend’s ancient picnic table and benches made by his father. 3 of the projects coming together in my workshop these days. As I work the wood it always amazes me how my thoughts are drawn toward God, God’s grace, and the discipling process.
Here’s some: much of the wood needs to be run through the plainer and the joiner. This squares up the piece, so its lines are “true”. The prophet Amos speaks to the people about being “plumb”. If the piece of wood is not square the whole project will be out of line. This weakens the structure of the furniture piece. We need to make sure we are square with the dictates of the gospel – set right through God’s grace so we are in right relationship with God. If we try “righting” ourselves we (often painfully) discover the truth that only through grace are we restored to a right relation- ship with God. Each of us being intentional with ourself in accepting God’s forgiveness means we add to the strength of the whole congregation
One of my least favorite parts of woodworking is sanding. It’s not the most exciting part of the process but is absolutely necessary. It evens the wood on a tabletop. It makes more exact, the curve of a cut or carved piece. It smooths the wood so that folks won’t receive splinters when us- ing it. As we work as a congregation let’s allow Christ to sand us, so we work together more evenly and in concert together. Let’s allow Christ to sand us individually so the “curve and cut” of each of us is of the best use for the Lord’s purposes He has for each of us. Each day I offer myself for the Holy Spirit’s sanding so I might not be rough or unintentionally give off splinters that might hurt other people’s feelings or diminish their spirits.
In much of the projects there’s a need to glue and join pieces of wood together. In the joining there are specific cuts to be made and the glue needs to be thoroughly spread on the areas of the wood being joined together. We need to allow the work of Christ to shape us in the ways that best connect and join us to each other. The glue of the Church as a whole and for each congregation is the Holy Spirit. We need to be “slathered” in the spirit! Opening ourselves to the activity of the Holy Spirit, especially and specifically through doing spiritual disciplines, allows the Spirit to spread throughout our lives. Let us be awashed in God’s renewing, Life-giving spirit. Allowing us to be joined in grace and allowing God’s Spirit to equip us so that we may about the business of Mission and Ministry!
One of my favorite moments in the woodworking process is staining or oiling the wood. It makes the dullness of the wood disappear, lifts the grain of the wood, and shows the uniqueness of the grains design within the piece. As the love of Christ grows within the individual, it’s always wonderful to see the beauty of their God-given design. The dullness of their brokenness is lost to the glow of their heart in Christ. Their gifts, graces, talents, and abilities are lifted as the Holy Spirit filles their hearts and minds. The uniqueness of themselves and who they are in Christ is blended and highlighted as it is joined with the members of the congregation.
As we move into this new program year it is exciting to see the renewed momentum. The Sanc- tury (and the Fellowship Hall – safe distancing!) continue to fill. The Sunday School is seeing new faces along with returning ones – plus new teachers along with ones sharing their experience. New individuals stepping into leadership. Guest musicians and ensembles gracing our worship. New bible studies among our adults and youth. New faces in worship. God is designing, shaping, and building us into an exciting witness for the Grand Rapids Area!
Be God’s, Pastor Jim