Three Maybe Four Things

I have more coffee mugs that anyone could ever possibly need. 

It happens. 

You build a reputation for drinking lots of coffee, people start giving you coffee mugs on Father’s Day, Pastor’s Appreciation Sunday, Christmas, Birthdays, and at Church Yard Sales. You can’t throw them away. You might do harm.

 We have a rule about that. 

So, I have a lot of coffee mugs. I even have a John Wesley coffee mug. I bought it online. One side features a picture of John Wesley: a founding genius of the United Methodist Church. His right hand is raised to offer his blessing. His left hand holds a coffee mug. The other side is printed with three simple rules: “Brew all the coffee you can. Drink all the coffee you can. Enjoy all the coffee you can.”  

I like that mug. I know it’s not anything Wesley actually said; but he could have, and that thought warms my heart, because Wesley never had one thing. He usually had three.  It isn’t one general rule, it’s “Do No Harm. Do Good. Stay in Love with God.”  It isn’t just a small group, it’s “societies, classes, and bands.”  It isn’t just grace, it’s “prevenient, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace.” It isn’t just a church, it’s “a council, a charge, and a conference.”  

Okay, maybe I’m pushing that last one, but here’s the thing: it’s three things on Pentecost, not just one. The Spirit descended. The church witnessed. People were baptized. Lots and lots of people were baptized. 

The next day it was four things.

Luke writes: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. “(Acts 2:42) And, as the church did those four things people saw Christ at work in their lives. Luke writes there were “signs and wonders.” He also mentions generous giving, gracious caring, lots of church dinners, and people who talked God up without talking people down.  And, because they did those things, Luke says, “and each day the Lord added to their number others who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)

Church is never just one thing alone. 

Church is always better when three or four things come together.  Church is singing, preaching, and serving. Church is praying, discerning, and doing. Church is a sanctuary, a table, an altar. Church is an ear that hears, a hug that is given, a hand that helps. Church is people who love Jesus, who love each other, who love the world the way God loves the world.

Church is never just one thing alone. Church is us better together.