Pastor Jonathan Hentrich was at the door greeting everyone. Christ’s Church Albany is truly a happy church. Smiles and laughter could be heard during the café time. Everyone kept saying how good the coffee was, and my goodness, they were right! The folks serving the coffee made jokes about becoming famous as we snapped a few pictures of them. One of the church members, Katie, introduced herself and shared how she began attending Christ’s Church when it first opened its doors nearly 4 years ago. She told us how amazingly wonderful this church has been to her and her family.
As we were still lingering, Joe Cotner, worship pastor, began playing an alternative rock style song. Joe was humble, genuine and creative. With the full band not there that day, he sang and played acoustic guitar, while tapping along on a bass drum. There was also a young man on keys. The sound was full and Joe’s voice was wonderful. Pastor Jonathan then did something rather unique and quite comical. He and a church member told each other bad jokes … the first one to laugh was the loser. Only after a few jokes Pastor Jonathan was laughing hysterically, as was the entire congregation. What a wonderful way to begin the message.
Every summer Pastor Jonathan takes a few weeks off in July to rest and be rejuvenated. He introduced the guest speaker, Pastor Tim Owens (Renew Church, Colonie). His message was entitled, “Peace is Worth Fighting For”. We must see the value, dignity and humanity in others. Not just in our family and friends, but also in those we don’t know or those we consider enemies. We need to immerse ourselves and listen longer to them than what feels comfortable. When there are different views, we do not have to “WIN”. Then we contend, not by getting even, but by being creative and kind. Don’t defeat them; instead serve them. Then we can restore by sharing a table with our former enemies. There is beauty in restoration. Pastor Tim challenged us to find that group or person we consider an enemy … then see them, listen to them, contend and then restore. He closed his message with the beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-10, with special reference to verse 9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”, Pastor Tim’s “motto verse”.
Joe Cotner then played a beautiful song of reflection, perfectly chosen for this message of peace … “Christ be All Around Me” by Michael W. Smith – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgC8HoR0o9c
The chorus goes – “Above and below me, Before and behind me, In every eye that sees me Christ be all around me.” And I just listened to the song again as I was writing this. Powerful!
Following the service, Pastor Jonathan did what they call “The 10”. He informally meets with guests to share in about 10 minutes what Christ’s Church Albany is all about. This congregation is a “group of people who love Jesus, each other, and the world”. He shared with us how church is not a building and not an organization, but the people. He spoke about their humble beginnings, their love for Albany and how they serve the community. Through “Love Albany” there are volunteer opportunities at over 30 community events including movie nights, street fairs and city festivals. Through the church website, you can request to use equipment such as a bounce house, projection screen, sound system, 8 burner grill, snow cone machine, popcorn machine, and even portable skateboard ramps. Through “Serve Albany”, an initiative of Christ’s Church Albany, it is easy for anyone to find a place to get involved, volunteer, and make a difference in Albany. You can sign up quickly and easily for wide a variety of opportunities through the church website. The church offers children’s programs to help kids grow to love Jesus and others. They also have Community Groups to help members build relationships and to help one another with life issues. That’s what UNITY is all about.
What a beautiful Sunday morning this was, with the sun brightly gleaming through the windows adding to its cheerful ambiance. We need to journey back here soon. We want to hear Pastor Jonathan preach! We also would love another cup of that delicious coffee. But most importantly, we long to once again be in God’s presence … consumed by His joy and peace. Consider a journey to this church for a time of refreshing! Service starts with café time @ 10:30 am.
Church Website – http://christschurchalbany.org
By Donna Hansen Munafo
(Edited by Michael Frati)