Indeed church anniversary is a time for reflection and an occasion for thanksgiving for God’s steadfast love and kindness upon us. As we look back, we should try to learn from our past; trust God for the present and looking ahead to the future. We should not rest on our “laurels” so to speak, nor wallow in the mire of regrets, keeping in mind that what we do now, we are doing it for the future generations. We must stay relevant, vibrant and healthy so that we could be “sincere and without offence till the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10b). In order to do that, we should abound in the following practices:
1. Pray for one another. A praying church is a powerful church. The church at Philippi was born out of prayers. Their first two converts came to Christ through the power of prayers (see Acts 16). They became Paul’s faithful prayer partners ever since.
2. Encourage. Paul believed so strongly in mutual encouragement to the extent that he exhorted the Thessalonians believers three times in his letter to them (1 Thess. 4:18, 5:11, 14). Of course, there are many ways that we could encourage one another. We could do so by words, simple acts of love, or empathizing with one another.
3. Support. When we encourage, we are also giving support. However, support usually shows itself in more concrete ways than encouragement. James gave an example of some people who gave words of encouragement, "Go in peace, keep warm and eat well," but “do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?” (Jas. 2:15-17 see also 1Jn. 3:17). Faith without works is dead.
4. Accountable. As a community of believers, we need to be one another’s keeper. We are not to be our brother’s “policeman” but we should be his or her keeper. In other words, we should be accountable to one another. We should look not on our own things, but also on the things of others (Phil. 2:4).
5. Serve. Finally, we should serve one another with love. Instead of envying and criticizing one another, we should bear one another’s burdens and in so doing we fulfil the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Jesus set the supreme example by washing his disciples’ feet (see John 13).
In this way we show to the world that we are truly His disciples. May God help us to be that kind of church even as we continue to be his living “stones” and “epistles” in this world.
Rev. Mark Tay