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684 West College St. Sun City, United States America, 064781.

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From the Desk of the Associate Pastor

October 2023


Consumerism. It is a dangerous thing. Whenever we attach an “ism” to something it can quickly become a big abstract idea and gets much harder to relate to. However, many times these social ills are closer to us than we realize. I would define consumerism as transforming the things and people that God has made into products meant to simply be used for enjoyment, pleasure, or the accumulation of wealth and power. It is the commodification of what God has made. The saying “we love what is meant to be used and use what is meant to be loved” is loosely attributed to St. Augustine and it could not be more accurate. In our sinfulness, we believe that everything that exists does so simply for our fulfilment. This carries over into church life, as we all are guilty of believing that our shared ministry is simply about doing what pleases ourselves. This could not be further from the truth or more dangerous.

I do not raise this societal and theological point to condemn us but rather to talk about a current that underpins so much of our shared existence as God’s people living in 2023. The church does not exist to satisfy our desires or to reflect our preferences. The church exists to give glory to God and bear witness to God’s kingdom in which there is hope, healing, and wholeness for all. We are a large congregation. There are folks who are liberal and conservative. There are those with means and those who live paycheck to paycheck. Some love the riches of traditional liturgies while others are energized by the Holy Spirit’s work in finding new ways of worshipping God. We have several different fellowship groups, and we are all fed differently. Part of being church means that we recognize that it is not all about us as individuals. The church is not going to meet our every want or desire. Advent is not in the business of simply meeting our preferences and this is not a country club. That may sound harsh, but it is true. It is a fact that every one of us is called to accept. There are Sundays where the message, music, or issue being discussed  may make us uncomfortable. There will be discussions at church or initiatives our mission calls us to that we do not particularly care for. Sometimes, we might have to sacrifice from our favorite projects or our carefully formed budgets to adjust to a need that has arisen before us.

We do not answer our own desires, thoughts, or opinions. We answer to the gospel message revealed in Jesus Christ. Our goal is not to gain more people or please everyone. Instead, our call is to be faithful to God. St. Paul tells us: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable will of God” (Romans 12:2). To be conformed to this means putting the needs of our neighbors first. It means living lives of self-sacrifice and not seeking power or glory for ourselves but only for the kingdom of God. Such is a kingdom that is not defined by the power or size of its people but by the power and size that comes from making room for all…especially the “least of these” (Matthew 25). In being church together, we do not always get what we want. That is not what we are called to. Instead, we get what we need, which is the renewing our hearts and minds so that we can see the image of God we all bear and live into our calling toserve this broken world in Christ’s name. The world says “me, me, me” but the kingdom of God says “we”. As important as our individuality is and always will be, let us put aside our preferences and consumerist desires and look towards the most important thing…building and glorifying God’s kingdom.

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew