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Church Growth: Are we Making Time of just Marking Time?
By Pearl Homiak

"Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation [i.e., the Day of Christ’s return] is nearer than when we first believed." - Romans 13:11

A little over 20 years ago some people left the comfort zones of their home parishes to start a new church. In spite of their very busy lives, they willingly sacrificed their time, talent, and money for the new parish. Thus, St. Luke Church was born and, like the young Jesus, "increased in wisdom and stature" (Luke 2:52). Today St. Luke Church still exists. But how much is each of us doing to make sure it continues to "increase in wisdom and stature"?

Wisdom and Stature

"Wisdom" is usually associated with the amassing and insightful use of knowledge. However, Webster’s New International Dictionary defines it as "the personification of God’s will in the creation of the world: Logos." We know that Logos is "the Word," and that "the Word" is Jesus Christ, Who was with God in the beginning and through Whom all things were made (John 1:1-4). So being wise really means knowing God through Jesus Christ. But, unless personal prayer and Bible reading/listening are a daily part of our lives, how many of us can claim this wisdom?

"Stature" is often linked to a person’s height. However, Webster’s says it is "quality or status gained by impressive growth, development, or achievement." This involves dedicated and intensive labor. But unless we all regularly and enthusiastically attend Sunday and other church services and frequently help out in various ways at St. Luke, how many of us are really contributing to its stature?

Marking Time

If all I do is come to church, especially late, on Sunday morning I’m just marking time. I know it takes effort to sustain a church and keep it healthy, but I’m too busy and/or too tired to do anything more than I have to. Besides, there are lots of other people at St. Luke that will "carry the ball."

"Marking time" is an easy trap to fall into. It takes effort to pray daily, read the Bible and other spiritual literature, regularly come to feast-day services and Saturday-night Vespers and go to events at other Orthodox churches in the area. It’s much easier to put my feet up in front of the TV and vegetate.

Making Time

When a man and woman fall in love they want to be together. Every thing else comes second. The founders of St. Luke Church fell in love with the idea of having an English-only Orthodox Church, and they were determined to make it happen. They were willing to make time for its inception and growth. If they hadn’t done this, none of us would be here today. But are we each making time now for God and St. Luke Church?

Why I Must Stop Marking Time and Start Making Time

I can no longer afford to just mark time at St. Luke because:

- Jesus Christ suffered and died for me. That’s a pretty high price to pay. Maybe I should start doing something for Him. I guess I could read the Bible for 10 minutes every day, and I can pray for a few minutes each morning and evening. Come to think of it, Jesus prayed regularly, and He frequently quoted from the Bible.

- Jesus is coming to judge me one day. What if He comes tomorrow? What will I say when He asks me what I did for Him in my life? Even when Jesus was tired, He always healed and helped people when asked. I guess I could make time to go to church more often. Most of those TV shows aren’t worth watching anyway.

- Jesus commands that I love both God and my neighbor. I know I love God, but maybe my life doesn’t show it. If I truly love Him, I need to honor Him. From now on I’m going to get up 30 minutes earlier on Sunday morning so I get to church on time. I’m also going to get to know my neighbors and fellow workers better. I wonder what their needs are? I know some of them are hurting. Maybe I can help them by telling them how God has blessed me. I can pray for them, too.

- Jesus has commissioned me to make disciples of all nations. Whew! That’s a tall order. What if He asks me which people I have brought to Him? I guess I’d better start with my family. My children don’t even know how to cross themselves. I think we’d better start saying a few prayers together every night as a family. And my friends and neighbors? I know: I can invite them to come to church with me and my family. But that’s scary. What if they ask questions I can’t answer? Well, if I increase my prayers, read the Bible regularly, and go to church on time and more often, I’ll become more confident. Besides, if I don’t know the answer to a question, I can say so and look it up when I get home. Then I’ll be ready to answer it the next time someone asks it.

The Joy of Making Time

If I make time for Jesus Christ, my life will change. Ouch! Change is painful. But if I’m not willing to sacrifice, I won’t grow in wisdom or in stature and neither will St. Luke Church. The 23rd Psalm says: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me." So if I’m doing what’s right, Jesus will be with me. I’ve heard it said that the closer you move toward God, the closer He moves toward you. I guess it’s like the Prodigal Son when he went back home. His father saw his son in the distance, ran to him, and embraced him. I want to really know that kind of love from God, and I want it for my family and everyone else.

Hey, you know what? I’m going to start making time for Jesus right now. Where’s my Bible?

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