Posted by: reformedmusings | November 22, 2007

I Am Thankful For My Church

On this day of thanks, I wanted to post something on the subject of Thanksgiving during a short break in the football family action. When I say church, I include the Presbyterian Church in America, but I mean especially Christ Church of Arlington. I say this not just because the gospel of Jesus Christ and His grace are clearly preached (which they certainly are), but because of our continuous efforts to reach out to the community and the lost with His gospel.

Our church has been working with the Arlington-Alexandria Council for the Homeless (AACH) and Doorways for Women and Families (DWF) for several years now. AACH serves families in transition in the local area. We participate in their “Adopt a Family” program by providing support for a family that is in the process of transitioning from homelessness to independence. Doorways is a local ministry providing support for women and families during a time of crisis, often involving domestic violence.

Last year, we started an annual Turkey Trot to better support AACH and DWF. The entry fees, after paying for the race expenses, go entirely to the two groups. Our church keeps nothing from the proceeds. Last year, we had more than 300 registrants for the run from around the country and were able to donate $4200. The course is accredited by USA Track and Field as 5k, which helps draw non-local runners.

So, before 0600 this Thanksgiving morning, our advance teams were setting up for late registration, water stations, the awards ceremony, sound system, and a host of other details. Deputies from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Department (who also help us plan the running course) cleared the race course, prepared to lead the front runner and tail the last runner to ensure everyone’s safety. Arlington County laid out and retrieved safety cones that protect the runners on the course. Many of our wonderful neighbors in Lyon’s Park and folks from AACH and DWF helped out in a host of ways, as did almost all our church members, including the children.

When the race kicked off at 0800 this morning, to our shock we had over 1,000 registrants, again from all over the country. Although rain was forecast for today earlier in the week, the Lord saw fit to provide absolutely perfect running weather this morning. As one of many race marshals and one of two timers, I called the time out as I watched a huge variety of runners pass by my position. They included Santa and a couple of elves (apparently getting in top shape for the coming season), numerous dogs, children in strollers, and whole families doing the course together. Everyone did great, and everything proceeded without incident thanks to the sheriff’s deputies, county workers, and course marshals, all of whom for which I am also very thankful. Oh, and a lot of meticulous planning. With over 1,000 registrants, the Lord has enabled us to bless the homeless and families in transition with much needed help. It will be a while until we can run all the numbers and see exactly how much they will be blessed in this regard.

One amazing thing about this is that our church is very small. Yet despite our size, the Lord continues to bless our efforts to reach out to the local community. Arlington is usually characterized as one of the most liberal and diverse communities in the country. Christ has inspired us to reach out through love and concrete support for those in need at AACH and DWF, through Bible studies and prayer meetings in the community, by sponsoring a family as they work towards independence, Turkey Trot, and other opportunities. All this with a church membership that would barely fill a couple of pew rows at a megachurch. We can do this only by God’s power, which is all-sufficient.

So I’m thankful for the opportunities that God has provided for us to serve our community. We pray that we can both model and preach the gospel to the lost, and that He will continue to provide us such opportunities. I’m thankful for the heavy involvement of all those who support the myriad of ministries and missionaries through our church. I’m thankful for Pastor Brian and the rest of the Session who are not just open to serving our community and partnering with others in the name of Jesus Christ, but who hunger for those opportunities.

Three years ago, few in Arlington knew who we were. Today, Christ Church of Arlington actively serves as a small but Spirit-enabled beacon leading to our Lord Jesus by serving those around us, and do so through positively engaging with our community. We preach the gospel without compromise, and attempt to serve our community with the same engaged spirit.

So for all this, and especially for the men and women who put their lives on the line in our military and intelligence agencies to preserve our freedom to openly worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ, I am greatly blessed and eternally thankful to my Lord and Savior this Thanksgiving Day in 2007.

Now back to football the family.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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