Nicole Childress Ball, Church Relations Officer
This week’s lectionary reading invites us to consider how our stories of God’s work in our lives have an incredible impact on another. In Acts 11:1-18 we read about God’s Spirit moving through the lives of Cornelius, Simon called Peter, and Gentiles in the land of Caesarea. When Peter is asked about his involvement with the “uncircumcised” in Caesarea, he answers with a profound question back to those apostles and believers from the in-crowd:
“And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’. If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” –Acts 11:16-17 (NRSV).
I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church in Vinton, Virginia this past Sunday. We fellowshipped together, worshiped together and ate together. It was a beautiful day of mutual sharing of the good works of our respective institutions.
I was particularly moved by the witness of this congregation in the life of the small town of Vinton. Having discerned a call to serve those often neglected in our modern society, they have begun a feeding program for local Veterans with distribution help from a local community center. John’s Pantry offers non-perishable staples in paper grocery bags to Veterans who present to the community center in need, regardless of their branch of military or years in service. Financial contributions are given from the very pockets and check-books of the members of Campbell Memorial and volunteers divide duties between clipping coupons, shopping, organizing and packing paper bags full of goods. Here is a short excerpt from their organizer, member Lynne Kilburn, on the church’s social media page:
“My church, Campbell Memorial Presbyterian, located on Hardy Road in Vinton, is starting our first ever Food Pantry. Our Food Pantry is for Veterans only. Such a great way for us to give back to so many that have given so much to each of us and for this country. Starting out, we will be providing food items only, but hope to expand to other items, such as toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant, etc. If you know of a Veteran in need, or would like to donate to our Pantry, please message me. These days with so much controversy regarding different organizations and what they receive versus what they spend on their cause, why not donate to a cause that I can promise you goes 100% to our Veterans! Campbell’s is so much more than soup – in this case it’s Campbell Memorial sharing the love! Thank you to all of our Veterans and God bless each of you!”
Who was I that I would hinder God? Peter proclaims. Who are we to hinder the power of our stories of God’s love in the lives of others? I believe we are called to share our stories, our experiences, our truth, about God’s amazing love and mercies. This is the Good News! That God is alive and working even where we might least expect it.
I am grateful for the stories shared during worship at Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church. Stories of God’s goodness and blessing on this small gathering of believers in the town of Vinton. Stories of transformation because several gathered together around a dream to change the community around them. Stories of care towards the hungry and outcast. Stories which inspire me to share God’s love through my own stories.
What stories do you have to share?