The following is the note I wrote for Peakland Pages, the monthly newsletter at Peakland United Methodist in Lynchburg.
In a seminary class we were asked to identify five theological rocks that grounded our ministry. These “rocks” were to be the things behind why we did what we did in ministry. I could only think of two: love God and love each other. For me, this is the bottom line of the gospel.
In Luke 10 Jesus is asked by a lawyer which commandment is the greatest commandment. It was a trick question. How could Jesus name one commandment out of all the commandments in the Torah without upsetting someone?
Jesus, however, in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets, aims to renew the faith of his people. This is why Jesus answers two-fold: love God and love each other. The greatest commandments are anchored in a love for the Creator and love for those who are created in the Image of God.
This is why one of my favorite songs is, “Loving God, Loving Each Other.” I’m thankful to Linwood for arranging this song to be sung on June 12, my last Sunday with you all. The song, written by the gospel songwriter Bill Gaither, has this line:
We tend to make it harder, build steeples out of stone, fill books with explanation of the Way. But if we’d stop and listen, and break a little bread, we might hear the Master say – loving God, loving each other.
Four years ago, I knew I was coming to Lynchburg, but had no idea what I was going to do. One afternoon in mid-April, I got a call from the DS saying, you might want to consider Peakland. I am thankful that my call brought me to Peakland. There is a lot to be said about these four years. The challenges and the joys. The meetings that seemed to never end or the mission trip that ended too soon.
But among all of it, Peakland is a place where loving God and loving each other is lived out through member care, Stephen Ministry, prayer quilts, small group gatherings, dinners, worship, mission trips, activities and support, and so much more! Peakland is a special place, where the radical love of Christ is taught, seen and felt. Peakland is a church where everyone is welcomed at the Table.
And because of this, Peakland has a reputation of being a church that is growing, meeting the needs of the community, and reaching young people.
My hope and prayer is that Peakland will continue to be a place in Lynchburg where people will know that this is a place where you love God and love each other.