“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” —1 Peter 2:10
The First Letter of Peter was written to encourage Christians in Asia Minor who were being persecuted for their faith. Most of them were Gentile converts to Christianity, and Peter reminds them that their inclusion in the church and in the promises of God was by an act of divine mercy made real by the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
I sit in the pews these days, since my pastoring days are behind me, and I contemplate my fellow church members, many of whom I have come to love. What brings them here, I wonder? We have a thoughtful, engaging preacher and excellent music. Is that what brings them? Perhaps, but I have visited other congregations where both the preaching and music were lackluster, and still people came.
Not long ago we did a survey that asked folks why they come to church, and, as expected, we received numerous and varied answers.
Still, I am convinced that something intangible but very real lies at the heart of what gathers our communities. There is something God has done that comes prior to all that we do. It is God’s mercy, shown to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people.
Here in New England we tend to say that a congregation was “gathered” rather than “founded” and I think that’s right. God gathers us together as a community that knows divine mercy, and, in a world where mercy is often in short supply, people long for it and seek it.
Prayer: Keep gathering us together, God, that we may know your mercy and share it with the world you love, and for which Christ died.
(This is my United Church of Christ Daily Devotion for May 4, 2017. To see the original go here. To subscribe to the UCC Daily Devotional and receive it every day by e-mail go here.)