Smoky Mountain Reflections #158
Back in 2006 while I was the Vicar here, I spent the year getting to know the people that made up Saint Paul Lutheran Church here in Sevierville (some 125 souls in about 70 households). Over the past 9 years, however, that number has fluctuated considerably. We are part of an unusually fluid rural community and the way our church family has changed reflects that reality. Through a mixture of baptisms, transfers, funerals, and other events that affect our church roll, we have received 196 souls into membership and removed or transferred 129. Because of these changes, only about 30% of the congregation’s current membership was here at the time I arrived. We are now 184 souls in 96 households and we come from all over the place. We come from 34 of our nation’s states and 4 different countries. We also know how to do many things and have filled many vocations; individuals in our small group of people have held or currently hold jobs as the following: carpenters, domestic engineers, shop owners, clerks, tellers, teachers, sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines, farmers, ranchers, cable car operators, trolley drivers, servers, musicians, students, office managers, hospital technicians, construction workers, sub-contractors, landscapers, architects, mechanical engineers, performers, machinists, factory workers, executives, politicians, dog trainers, accountants, hotel owner / operators, electricians, police, phone sales and service, restaurant owner / operators, truck drivers, secretaries, clothiers, distributors, dispatchers, counselors, and I have probably missed a few. With such a diverse collection of individuals I think that there is little we cannot, with God’s help, accomplish.
The city of Sevierville has an estimated population that is just a few thousand more than the total number of taxi cabs in New York City. However, we can also say that we see 2 or 3 million more people come through our community each year than the total population of New York City. What does this mean? It means that every day is an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with an ever-changing audience.
It is somewhat mind-boggling to consider the diverse nature of who we are and the potential we have to be a positive influence for God and His truth in this community. While we come from all over the country and even the globe, we are all equally proud of now being Tennesseans. While we also come from many religious backgrounds, we are all equally committed to the truth proclaimed about God’s Word as expressed in the Lutheran confessions. While being a Tennessean is important and being Lutheran is even more important, it is the title of Christian that should be our greatest source of comfort, because it says to whom we belong. It is that title that identifies us as members of the body of Christ; children of the one and only true living God.
So go out wearing your Tennessee orange and your LCMS lapel pin, but most importantly share the love of Christ that you carry in your heart. Show it in your actions for the sake of the lost and the needy, and comfort others with what comforts you in your time of need.