One of the joys of participating in the life and ministry of a local church, like Covenant will be, is the opportunity to gather for worship on Sundays.
In gathered worship the written Word of God is read and preached. The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to shape us. Some may become convinced of their need for the Savior, and believers are built up in holiness and comfort. There are also the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper which God uses to encourage his people regarding their standing in Jesus.
But then there are six days in the week in which, most weeks, there are no opportunities for gathered worship with Covenant. And yet God’s people are not hindered in the outflow of daily worship at home, in the family and individually, by way of prayer, singing, Bible reading, service, and more (Romans 12).
As God’s people live daily for God, being shaped by the Spirit's use of the Word of God as it's applied to their hearts, their lives bring glory to God.
At Covenant Church, God’s people will be encouraged in our gathered worship, and from one another, to make every minute count, as far as is possible, for God’s glory.
Below, I show an example of one way in which Covenant Church might glorify God. It’s impossible, of course, to capture every aspect of how this church hopes to glorify God in a short story. But a group of people who are loved by the Lord and thereby love and support one another can and do encourage one another to live unto the Lord. Here’s one possible example, out of an infinite number of possibilities, for which the Covenant Church community can seek to glorify God in Burbank and Los Angeles.
Imagine please that it’s the year 2028. At the time of writing, that’s five years from now.
The artist held up his paintbrush and twirled it on its end. Stepping back, he could see the canvas in full, and was satisfied with his progress. The artist, in his industrial-styled gray walled garage studio, high up in the mountains above Burbank, looked the absolute image of how a director would cast and dress a successful painter. Of medium height, thin, and a head of white hair. The artist was in his 60’s - very few knew exactly how old - and wore glasses and the wardrobe of someone who effortlessly knew what was fashionable and what was not.
The artist glanced at his watch. It read 3:00 PM. He would paint for a few more hours. Dabbing his brush in one of the considerable number of yellow options available on the tray he held in his left hand, the artist slowly approached the canvas. Just then, the phone rang. The artist, having before been lost in the color shades of his art, jumped a little at the noise.
“I’ll just let it ring,” the artist thought to himself. The artist was one of what seemed like only a few holdouts with no cell phone. It was a landline phone, teal with a yellow cord that was hanging on the wall. The ringing stopped and cautiously the artist again approached his canvas. His mind was nearly back into the framework necessary for painting when again the phone rang. The artist took a long look at his canvas, sighed, and put his brush down on a small wooden table that was next to him. He turned around, walked to the phone, and picked up the receiver.
“William, this is George. I hear you’re painting again.” The voice on the line spoke with an air of excitement and anticipation.
“Yes, I’m painting a little," said the artist. "In fact, I'm in my studio right now.”
“William, this is huge. Monumental. When can I see it? Should I start putting my feelers out for a buyer? The New York auction houses will be ecstatic.”
“I wouldn’t mind if a few potential buyers knew about the piece - but don’t bother New York quite yet.”
“William, this is going to make us rich.”
“I'll tell you right now that no one will see this painting if I'm not able to get off the phone and paint.”
“Ok William, we’ll talk soon! Goodbye.”
The artist stood again at the canvas. He picked up his brush, made an approach, and painted. He painted with confidence and ease and precision. And the canvas was transformed into something worth looking at — a true masterpiece that would cause even the most novice gallery viewer to stop and stare and dream.
In Burbank, off Victory Blvd., a grandmother stood in the small kitchen of the family home. She closed her eyes tightly, and tried to think. She was strained to remember every detail of the recipe that her mother had taught her many years prior. But remembering details from long ago, or details of what was said ten minutes prior were both extremely difficult over the noise of her young grandsons playing in the living room.
“Boys - why don’t you head to the park? Your grandmother is trying to think. And then to cook.”
A reply came from a small boy of about 12, who stood next to his younger brother. “But Grandma, we were just about to start video games!"
“Are those quiet?”
“We’ll try!” The grandmother looked at the boys and suddenly remembered. What she remembered was that she was about their age when she began to learn how to prepare food in a kitchen.
“Actually, your grandmother could use your help. Come in here.”
“But video games!”
“Come on in - you’ll have video games later. This is important.” With sighs, the two young men dropped their controllers and joined their grandmother in the kitchen.
The sun rose on a Saturday soon after to reveal a bright and crisp spring morning in Burbank.
In a quiet parking lot, the artist stepped out of his convertible. He was glad to have found a parking spot, because he knew that the parking lot would soon be full.
“William!” A cry came from across the parking lot. A man in his late twenties walked enthusiastically toward the artist. “I’m glad to see you. What are you doing here so early? Volunteering?” The young man wore jeans, a t-shirt, and sunglasses. He approached the artist for a greeting hug, which the artist was glad to provide.
“I’ve brought a painting,” said the artist.
“Wow! From which collection?”
“This is something new.”
“I thought you didn’t paint anymore.”
“That’s true. I did stop painting. But something I heard as our minister preached several weeks ago has stuck with me and I thought maybe I could — from time-to-time, pick up the brush again.”
“Really? What was it you heard?”
“I have notes on it at home - but it was about an 'eternal weight of glory.' And suddenly I thought of decisions I've made and my purpose, and I realized that if I have opportunity to love Jesus by painting - that’s an opportunity I might regret not taking." The artist stood reflecting for a moment, and then he smiled. "And, Tony asked me to submit a painting. That guy is hard to say 'no' to. I bet he makes a great teacher here.”
“That's cool. Do you need a hand with carrying your painting?”
“No. I think I’ve got it. Thanks." Just then the doors opened to one of the many vehicles that were now filling up the lot. "Hey, there’s Eva.” A woman stepped out of her car and two young men got out as well. They were all carrying large colorful Tupperware bowls, and plates.
“What did you bake for us, Eva?” asked the artist.
“We,” Eva said while motioning to the boys with her head as her hands were full, “Baked muffins. Old family recipe, or, what I think is somewhat close to an old family recipe. It took some trial and error. But they’re not for you. They’re for the school. Unless you buy some at the sale of course.”
As more people began to arrive, the group walked into the elementary school to which the parking lot belonged. They were just a few of the contributors from Covenant Church to the rummage sale fundraiser that Covenant members had organized to benefit the school and its teachers.
The artist's painting was donated to the school for it to keep or to sell, and many appreciated seeing it that day.
But the big hit of the sale were Eva’s muffins. Which, bolstered by the creative persuasion sales techniques of her grandsons, soon all sold out.
Those present at the rummage sale that beautiful day got to experience the love of a people from Covenant Church who believe that their decisions, time, talents, treasures, and their use of all of these matters and can make a difference in their community to the glory of God. And those present experienced delicious muffins, the memory of which will be the talk of many rummage sales going forward.
But these muffins are not likely to be repeated, as Eva later found her family recipe, but she cannot remember exactly how she made these.
Come, glorify God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with us in Burbank. Come and gather with Covenant Church.