Throughout the summer people will continue coming on Wednesdays for food. Friday lunch times will remain open for drive-through prayer for anyone who needs a listening ear and a blessing from God. Though Sunday school will be taking a break, there will be Day Camp in July for the children of our congregation and the community. People who come here should always find that we dispense more than some bags of food or a few kind words. Here the heart of Jesus still beats, here His hopes are pursued, here the ideas of justice, peace, and grace are lived out. At Atonement, we are a love pantry.
God’s love is not just a warm feeling or a polite disposition. When we love, we help fulfill the mission of Jesus (John 3:16). When we love we are connected to God, because all love comes from God (1 John 4:6-7). When we love, we welcome those who are different whether they are neighbors (Mark 12:31), foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19), or even enemies (Luke 6:35). Lovers are fearless (1 John 4:18-19), loyal (John 15:13), constant (Proverbs 17:17), chivalrous and respectful (Ephesians 5:25, 33). When we love, the best of us rises to the top (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:14), and the worst of us sinks away (Proverbs 10:12, 1 Peter 4:8). When we love, we are connected to the ones we love through our concern and commitment to their well-being (1 John 3:16-18).
We’ve said quite a few good-byes in the last couple months. Among the usual snowbirds heading back up north, a few have sold their Florida homes and are done with the back-and-forth. We don’t know when we will see them again, but we know when they look up at night, they will see the light of the same stars we see. We know they’ll feel the warmth of the same sun that we stand under, and that they remain in the hands and heart of the same God who holds us.
The cross of Jesus and the promises of baptism unite us wherever we may go. We are connected by love to the same God, regardless of the distance between us. Wherever you may find yourself this summer, God’s Holy Spirit will follow you. Whether you are climbing a mountain, fishing in the Gulf, or sitting and knitting quietly at home, you will find the insight of the psalmist true that wherever you go, “…[God’s] right hand shall hold [you] fast” (Psalm 139:10). So when you put on the wings of the morning and fly off to your next destination, make sure you take love along with you.