It was Father’s Day, and we entered Christ’s Church to find an impressive display – an actual canoe filled with ice cold Dad’s Root Beer and root beer barrel candy for all to enjoy. We made our way into the intimate sanctuary where modern, energetic music, along with a little caffeine and sugar, got us all pumped up and ready to worship.
Christ’s Church Guilderland is pleasantly anomalous to many in the Upstate family of churches. They appear to have everything right, from the way they handle money to the way they handle children. They prosper financially by deliberately avoiding the overbearing and burdensome teachings about the curses of Malachi. Instead, from early childhood to adulthood Bible teachings, the leadership attaches joy to the sacrificial giving of the church. Their Children’s Church makes giving fun! A child gives a coin by dropping it down a series of toilet paper rolls and watches it bounce through the tubes until it reaches its final destination … a plastic dump truck; signifying that their coins are going to work. Pastor Brian Rutherford teaches young and old alike to give joyfully and hilariously.
Most of their outreach programs are youth oriented. Pastor Brian, still a young man himself, understands that the Kingdom will be run by the next generation and this church has made them their focus. Among their youth programs are regular, short-term missionary trips to Guatemala. Youth are given an opportunity to go serve in an area of great need. They return home forever changed, once again filled with the joy of sacrificial giving and astounded with the power God has given them to love someone in need. They also show God’s love and generosity to the community through “Nervosity”, an innovative, teen-focused program that happens once a year (www.nervosity.org). This “battle of the bands” held at Tawasentha Park in Guilderland had nearly 300 people attend this year. Money is raised through sponsors and youth offerings to support the Guilderland Food Pantry, the Addiction Care Center and Vision Trust which helps to sponsor children and teachers in Guatemala.
The sermon, entitled “Significant Story”, was supported by significant scripture. It spoke to my heart, revealing how we evolve in our understanding of the magnitude of God’s love. Each one of us must go through a learning process, a journey if you will, of recognizing that God is not the cause of the pain, disappointment, tragedy, setbacks and unhappiness we all endure. So why then, knowing the goodness of God and the inextinguishable love He has for us, do we sometimes blame Him for our misfortunes?
Pastor Brian began to explain how we must look ahead to, and prepare for, the great journey God has individually planned for our lives. Something will always go wrong along the way. The love of God pursues us always and faith is built in the knowledge of His word. We need to understand that God’s design was for us to LIVE LOVED by Him. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8). Our story will have a glorious ending, as long as we believe our Father is faithful even as He was to His own Son. Jesus suffered the greatest hardships of all, but by faith endured the cross because of the joy set before him (Hebrews12:2). He is our example … He is our joy.
At the close of the sermon, Pastor Brian strongly suggested that everyone purchase and read the book “He Loves Me”. It impressed me that he offered to buy a copy for those who couldn’t afford it. This Pastor set an example by joyfully giving and putting God’s love into action.
There is a long gap between the early church and the book of Revelation. That gap is where we live … between what has happened and what will happen. God is not done with the story. He wants to continue writing His story through us. May we live, serve and give out of God’s amazing love.
Christ’s Church Guilderland is exactly the kind of shining example in the gap that will inspire UNITY among the brethren throughout Upstate New York. Thank you Pastor Brian Rutherford and Christ’s Church for getting it so right. What a great journey!
Church Website – www.Christschurchguilderland.com
Sunday Services @ 9:00 & 11:30
By Donna Hansen Munafo
(Contributing writer Michael Frati)