“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NRSVue)
This Sunday, Sept. 4, we celebrate 200 years of serving Florence, Alabama, and the world. As Jesus’ disciples, our congregation has ministered to this community with the distinctiveness of a spirituality shaped by John Wesley, the 18th Century founder of the Methodist movement. Many of those who were instrumental in forming this congregation in 1822 and who joined the church in the early years had ties to John Wesley in England and recalled his careful instruction about holy living. They understood our need for the saving grace of Jesus Christ to transform our hearts, justifying us through his death and resurrection, and they called people to commit their lives to God. They taught and nurtured Wesley’s spirit of faithfulness to scriptural and social holiness, now embodied in our love of studying the Bible, developing spiritual disciplines, and serving others through missions. When we take the time to consider the impact of this church on the lives of thousands over the last 200 years, we are in awe of what God has done.
That’s why I chose Paul’s doxology from the book of Ephesians as the text for this week’s message—because God has done mighty things through this church—and we give God all the praise and glory! But I also chose Paul’s doxology because he emphasizes that God isn’t through with us yet. In whatever ways God has blown our minds with his goodness and grace, there are more miraculous and significant things to come.
When Paul says, “Now to him who by the power at work within us,” he highlights how the Holy Spirit is working within us, equipping us so that God can work “through us” to accomplish his will in the world. Paul emphasizes that when we allow God to work within us and then, through us, God “is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.” The qualifying statement in Paul’s thinking is that we must be willing for God to work through us, and then God will amaze us with what we can do together. We praise God for our past; however, we praise him even more for our future!
Be sure to join us this week as we celebrate our Bicentennial at the 11:00 am worship service with special music, communion, and a baptism! Bring a dish and join us for a covered dish luncheon in McDowell Hall after worship. — Senior Pastor Rev. Dale Cohen
(Please note that there is no 8:15 am or 9:00 am worship on September 4th; however, Sunday School classes will meet at 9:45 am.)