The First Congregational Church of Darien

United Church of Christ

A community of faith since 1737

A Few Words from Dale, December 5, 2013

A few words from Dale…

A personal hero of mine is Clarence Jordan.  He mentored Millard Fuller, who went on to found Habitat for Humanity in 1976.  Jordan, a Georgia peanut farmer and scholar of the Greek New Testament, created an interracial community called Koinonia Farms in the Deep South in 1949!

Back in the 60’s, Jordan was in Houston to address a large bustling, successful church. As the pastor and Jordan approached the church edifice, the pastor couldn’t resist the urge to rock on his heels and mention the gleaming new cross, towering in front. This cross was massive. Maybe the pastor went too far in bragging that it cost $30,000, a lot of money back in the 60’s, or today. Jordan paused, eyeballed the cross, and shook his head. In his terse, country-lawyer fashion, he replied, “You folks got ripped off.”  “What do you mean ripped-off?” the wounded pastor reacted defensively. “That cross exceeds 100 feet! It is made of the best materials.” “Of course, it is,” said Jordan.  “But time was when Christians could get ourselves crosses for free.”

Similarly, one of the ways we measure churches—their size and impact—is by seating capacity. As I give tours of our meetinghouse, some invariably ask, “How many hundreds will fit in here?” We are impressed by large things.  The ancient Greeks believed making something massive is what made it exceptional and holy.  That is why they made their Trojan horse so large, and why those behind the walls pulled it in. “Will you admire the size of that thing?  It’s just captivating!”

But if Jesus still has anything to do with the church, what makes us exceptional is less the size of our seating capacity, and more the size of our sending capacity. Sending capacity, as in sending our own to feed the hungry in Norwalk every month, and our Food First items along with them. Sending capacity, as in youth we send to places like Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, or more recently, Staten Island, where our youth served people whose homes looked fine but were ruined inside.

As God takes our ministry to the next level, it is not just about filling our seating capacity.  Even more telling spiritually, might be our sending capacity.  That is, our ability to enlist and deploy people to make the kind of difference with neighbors that we know Jesus would have us make.

This Sunday is about our sending capacity, expanding it beyond local, regional, and national, even to global reaches.  A leader church like First Congregational, Darien can send to all those frontiers. This Sunday is about 13 of us eager to represent you in the Dominican Republic next January, building homes under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity.  As the Gospel propels us across barriers the world creates to divide us–race, language, culture, religion, social class—it mysteriously frees the power of the Holy Spirit in ways not otherwise possible. And sometimes we must leave Darien for that to occur. That is when faith goes from ordinary to extraordinary.

Join us at worship on Sunday! Hear about the adventure we embark on, representing all of you.

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