I sit here at the counter of my virtual office in Burger King at the intersection of Highway 49 and Bell Road in Auburn CA recalling the past four years of Elevation Christmas seasons. That's right, Elevation has seen four Christmas seasons come and eventually go by. I know that each year is a gift and each year has special moments through-out. The question that was on my mind is, 'why is Elevation a gift?'
For starters, salvation. First converts to Christ back in the Spring of 2006, disciples coming forward to be publicly baptised for their faith in Jesus, marriages restored, new friendships made, social justice both locally and nationally met. Individuals and small groups of people at Elevation set to both national and international mission projects and trips. A lot of movement, mission, and memories that flood my heart. Along with those great lights of achievement are some low lights; difficult finances, friends leaving, leadership lacking in ministry areas, and misunderstood vision conflicts. However; with some bumpy moments, the gift of Elevation Church being born is a tremendous gift for many.
A gift because of Jesus: The reality is that Jesus raises and closes the church. He calls, saves, and establishes His will in the hearts of His people and Elevation has been established by Jesus. Sure their is a birth of planting the church in my heart, but it can't be held by me alone or sustained by me alone. This again is the beautiful gift of Jesus and His gift of salvation and mission. We get to make much of Jesus and He gets to be the lead Shepherd and Overseer of our faith being worked out in community at Elevation. The gift of Elevation is because the gift of Jesus.
A gift of ministry: Elevation has been a gift of ministry to one another. The service that is extended to each other, by a meal served when sick or recovering, a word spoken when down or confused, and a work achieved when using the gifts that God gives His disciples so that His will would be done, and glory would be brought to His name.
A gift of mission: The bottom line for Elevation from day one is to lift up the gospel. This mission takes on many faces. It can be seen in collectively feeding the working poor and homeless in the Sierra Foothills. It can be seen in sports programs and pick-up basketball games. It can be seen in raising support to send people overseas to spread the gospel to impoverished communities in Africa. It can be seen in helping start churches locally, nationally, and internationally. It can be seen in Life Groups seeing a need and meeting the need without red-tape and committees being stalled in. It can be seen in the stories of individuals who take with them the gospel into the work-place, school-place, relationship-place, sharing why Jesus is the way, truth, and life.
Why is Elevation a gift? Because of Jesus. No better time then Christmas when thinking, feeling, and knowing that the gift of Jesus is going all around the world again. My hope is you see Elevation as a gift. Whether you are in community at Elevation, looking-in from the outside, or following from afar, that this church is a gift to pray for, serve in, and give too. We still have much to see God do, and I look forward to a new year for Elevation to lift up the gospel in the Sierra Foothills and beyond. Will you join me in celebrating the gift of Jesus, and the gift of His church at Elevation?
Hidden Behind the Cross;
Pastor Eric Van Patten