Aimee Topping, Christ South - August 8, 2021
When I slow down and start to pay attention, it’s not hard to see God all around me. I don’t always understand why certain things happen when and as they do, but God’s hand shows up in the details when I need a reminder. Today was Pastor Matt’s last day at South and the sermon topic, picked weeks ago, was Get Found in Belonging. There is not a single better way to describe what Christ South means to me.
To be found is a powerful thing and Pastor Matt was our finder. Over these last few weeks, I have heard so many stories about how and why people came to South. Each story is different but there is a frequent theme- Matt found me. He found me when I was at my lowest, when I was lost, when I was disconnected, when I was broken, when I thought I had it all together. Pastor Matt has a God given ability to meet people where they are, share his faith, and encourage them. His enthusiasm, approachability, kindness, and talents (we all know that man can preach, and boy can he sing!) were beacons of hope to so many in need of a church home. From the “Ask this Pastor Anything” sticker on his laptop in a coffee shop to standing at the door after worship to say goodbye and high five or hug every single kid, Pastor Matt made each of us feel found.
But being found was just the beginning. It’s what happened next that makes all these stories so beautiful. Time after time, the next thing I heard was how each person found a way to belong at South. Many people talked about finding their place through volunteering, small groups and even through friendships. Each person knew that they were welcome and belonged at South because of the community here. It doesn’t matter what you wear, who you love, how hard your path has been- all are welcome. Even me. I have been lifted up by the people at South more times than I can count. I found belonging through the South Sisters who prayed for me before I even had to ask, by being trusted with your children at BLAST, and now through an outpouring of support and love during this transitional time. I started worshiping at South after I connected with Pastor Matt; but you, my church family, are why I stay. Our imperfect, Christ seeking, outreach driven, unconditional loving, a little bit weird community is so much greater than one person or vision- it’s God sized.
Many of us are hurting right now. We will miss Pastor Matt. Some of us are unsure of how things will look at Christ South without him. But remember what he taught us; WE are the church. We belong to each other and to God. Pastor Matt’s vision and drive brought many of us together, but it’s the bonds we’ve created that will sustain us going forward. Our community is strong, built on a foundation of faith and belonging. Please encourage each other. Call a friend to share your story and talk about your memories of South. We will find strength and healing by sharing our words so they can be held and carried by the hearts around us. This is what builds community.
I am forever grateful for Pastor Matt’s ministry at Christ South. I’m grateful that he found me, as hard as I was to reach. I am grateful that I had the honor of working beside him. I am so blessed that I can continue to work here and help carry this mission on to do God’s work. Peace be with you and know that you belong here.
1 Peter 4:8- Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.