Our church was founded July 28, 1857. This year, 2007, we are celebrating our 150th anniversary with a series of events on the last Sunday of each month from January through July. To kick off our anniversary year, this morning I preached from Isaiah 43:1-7. Through Isaiah, God says three things in verse 1 to His people:
- I redeemed you.
- I have summoned you by name.
- You are mine.
I reminded our folks that God’s message to Judah was not unlike what He is saying to us today. God knows our name — He knows who we are, what we’re like, and everything about us. I think the important point here is that God knows our communal name. Oh, of course He knows our individual names, but I think Isaiah is reminding Judah that God knows the name of His people — collectively, communally, corporately.
Secondly, God calls us by that name to the task He has for us. God still had a purpose for Isaiah’s Judah, and God has a purpose for us His new people. I told our folks about Gordon Cosby and The Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. Each prospective member is asked, “What do you want to do?” In other words, “What is God calling you to do?” Each person then finds a place in a small ministry group. Finding and following God’s call is not optional for Church of the Saviour members.
The theme for our sesquicentennial celebration is Praise for the past, faith for the future. We’ve decided that during this 150th year, we can’t just focus on the past. We’ve got to discover God’s new call for our faith community, and then faithfully follow that call into our future. If not, no one will be here to celebrate the next 150 years.