Running the Race!

I imagine quite a few runners had the old spiritual, “Guide my Feet, as I Run This Race,” in their minds as they crossed the finish line at the Route 66 Marathon, thanks to the 90 or so churchfolks who gathered at the courtyard and sang to encourage them. I’m sure they appreciated the children standing with water for them to grab, and all the smiles and cheering as well. We were poised to have an impact, being right on the marathon route, and instead of seeing the closed roads & circuitous route to church as an inconvenience, we took the opportunity to show the people who we are and give the kind of encouragement spoken of in Galatians 4:29, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” Isn’t it humbling to imagine that our words have the capacity to hold God’s grace for others? And, what better time for someone to hear that grace than when they are in the midst of quite a bit of tribulation? Our church sits at about the 21.2 mile mark, so we got to uplift some soles/souls 🙂 at a crucial point—“you’re almost there—5 miles to go! Run with perseverance the race marked out for you! (Heb. 12:1)” read our marquee in the courtyard. Even while the congregation wasn’t out there engaging the runners directly, I peeked out the windows in the education building and saw many runners looking over at the marquee, pointing it out to the runners around them, smiling and carrying on. What a great example of what the church can be—not only offering a wellspring of hope and rejuvenation to actual runners coursing by our walls, but all of the people plodding through their own struggles along the “course of life.”
The race molded our week here at the church—the youth put up a great bulletin board inside the church, and Brad Phelps and Ruth Ives and I hashed out the details of what we might be able to “pull together” to reach out to the people participating. The new “Faith We Sing” Hymnals lovingly provided in memory of various church members and pastors of the congregation contained several great songs to pull from for the occasion. It was a great end to worship, and I could see the enthusiasm of on the faces of our congregation as I stood on the marquee planter and issued the benediction to go forth in ministry to all of those occasions we may otherwise take for granted—our homes, our workplaces, our neighborhoods. I saw the joy overflowing from one member as she told me, “This is the best thing we’ve ever done!” Well—to God be the glory, is all I can say to that. I’m happy to report that the folks there thoroughly fulfilled their membership vow to support the church with their “witness” on Nov. 18, 2012, and I can tell you from experience that it is refreshing to do so. May we continue to reach out in unexpected ways!