Dear First Pres,

   I said something on Sunday that I don't think I'd ever said quite so clearly before. It was the main point of my sermon, so I'm hoping you heard it. I said, "There is no greater privilege than being part of the local church." The more I studied 1 Peter 2:4-10, the more convinced I became. There is no other group, no matter how precious it is to us, that bears the description that Peter lays out in these verses. In Christ, we are being built into a spiritual house, formed around the "chosen and precious cornerstone." In Christ we, together, are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God." In Christ, we are the "people of God" who "have received mercy." I hope you agree, there is no greater privilege than being part of the local church.

   I know it doesn't always feel like it. And I know that it can be hard, sometimes, to really be involved in the life of the congregation. But, when we remember the incredible vision of the local church - both her identity and vocation - that Peter lays out in 1 Peter 2, it can encourage and inspire us to keep working at being the chosen people of God together in a way that glorifies our Lord.

   So, today I encourage you to give thanks to God for this privilege. Give thanks for something about First Presbyterian Church Fresno that has been helpful to you. Think about the people in the congregation that you know. Take a few moments to give thanks to God for them. And then, ask God to help us live into the tremendous call that He has given us - that we would truly be a royal priesthood that broadcasts to the world the incredible work of God to bring us from darkness into marvelous light.