Just a Snapshot, Really

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It’s only a snapshot, of course, but it serves as a powerful reflection of our church family.
The first thing you notice when you look at the photo that we took on our front steps after worship on Homecoming Sunday is that it is incomplete. Yes, like a river or stream that you never step into twice, our church is always changing. But at its core, the church’s spirit is the same as it has always been.
If you look closely at our church family picture, you’ll see that folk are missing. Over a dozen of our most familiar faces are not in this picture because they are on the mission field serving and providing disaster relief in Texas. Others are absent from our church photo because they are serving in the kitchen and in the Mission and Fellowship Center, all helping to prepare a feast of a potluck lunch (I speak for all of us when I say how grateful we are for your hard work!). I might add that a mark of a healthy church is evidenced in the fact that some are always absent because they are serving.
Look again at our church photo. What else do you see? It won’t take you long to see every generation represented on our church steps. As we know, this is not easy to accomplish and we should be grateful for the gift of one another. Babies, children, youth, young adults, middle-aged parents, grandparents, retirees and senior adults are all present in our photo and in our church.
Consider, also, the diversity that is represented in our church photo. You’ll see various shades of skin tones, as well as different nationalities and ethnicities present on our church steps. Yes, there are guests, newcomers and fraternity members from Western Carolina University. There are new members (Welcome, McLeods, we see you!), newly baptized individuals and longtime church members who have come home to be with parents and grandparents.
Look closer and you’ll see smiles that are genuine. Families are split up and mashed together with other families. Friendships are on display here, as are reunions and reengagements.
It should be noted, also, that some of our beloved church members are not in our picture because their life circumstances have changed. Some individuals and families have new rhythms and they are no longer a part of our faith community. Some individuals are no longer able to attend like they once did because of health realities that minimize their movements. And some faces are missing because they have gone on before us to life-everlasting with God. Being church includes an acknowledgement that our community is incomplete, and that we miss and long for the company of those who are no longer with us.   
Our photo is a fitting snapshot of who the church is. Our church is a community of attendees, guests, newcomers, life-timers, staff members, and recently acquired folk. It has holes and is incomplete. It harbors hurts and disappointments, sorrows and tragedies. It is full of celebration, is patient in hope, and is leaning into its future. The church is always a snapshot of God’s people, and it will always be fluid.  
God is present in our church photo, and His love emanates from our expressions. There is room for more in our picture, which is beneficial, because we are growing! This is what the Body of Christ looks like, y’all. We are God’s gift to one another.
No wonder we’re smiling.