As the sun rises over Apple Valley, its warmth stretches over rocky hills and burrows into the ground content to rest here until October. And then it happens. The sky darkens, the clouds rumble until they burst, and the ground rejoices with new life soaking up every last drop of rain. At that appointed time, a sweet aroma rises up from the creosote bush reaching every corner of this desert. Even if you aren’t familiar with the creosote bush, you probably recognize the scent. That desert-loving plant thrives in our region, and when we step outside to enjoy the rain we all know it.
I love the simplicity of this. The rain comes, the ground is refreshed, and the creosote infuses the desert. When I envision the church in community with our High Desert cities, this is how I picture God’s prevailing and restoring presence working through the local body of believers, like an inescapable aroma delighting over the desert.
This prevailing restoration is the gospel manifested throughout the city by Spirit-led, fruitful work.
You might laugh when I say picking up trash on a Saturday morning or supporting community events bears eternal weight, but this investment is significant beyond our understanding. When God gave Adam authority to work and keep the garden and to name all living creatures, it is clear that Adam would work with endearing ownership, and that the work was good (2:15, 2:19) as it existed before the world was broken and marred by sin. Through this first man came sin in that garden, but through Jesus we see the fulfillment of complete obedience to God the Father. Not just obedience- restorative obedience, as we see Jesus living in righteousness, conquering death and bringing this righteousness to you to claim as your own before God. So now you can be identified with this righteousness in the gift of salvation and therefore participate in the prevailing, restoring power of God for the good of those around you and ultimately for God’s glory. This participation with God is not just about who you are, it is also about what you do. How can you be a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden? How can the pleasing aroma of God be evident to all?
There are a few key ways I want Redeemer Church to infuse the desert on Saturday morning:
- Make it relational.
Use this opportunity for relationship. Invite friends, family, neighbors – and just come. Meet at the Town Hall Building (by the Police Department) at 8:30, and sign up there. Bring your kids! All are welcome.
Represent Christ to the town of Apple Valley. How can you help them? If they ask you to work a certain way or give you an assignment you are not thrilled about, graciously respond and exceed the expectations of those directing you in that assignment. Make a commitment now to guard your heart and your words against criticism, gossip and grumbling.
If you bring friends, don’t forget to make new ones. There will be families at this community event who you haven’t met yet, and I hope that you will meet each other and your kids will witness your love for your church and the people working alongside you.
2. Make it missional.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15
I did not choose a uniform color or icon for our church’s participation in this event for this reason. Reaching out, showing interest in other people from other groups, and being hospitable to the people around us showcases God’s glory in a way that a uniform just can’t express. This aroma must come from the heart. This is not to say stay away from wearing logos and ministry apparel- by all means, wear them and enjoy them! Instead, I mean to say that nothing external can infuse the desert with the goodness of God like a heart in surrender to God’s will. Let’s make this missional from the inside out.
If you are joining us on Saturday morning, pray this week for the people you will meet, believers and non-believers. Pray for the people serving our community who hate God. Pray for the people serving our community who love God. Pray for the good of the city. Pray for peace and restoration, and pray that the sweet aroma of Christ will one day reach every corner of this desert.
Article by Lauren Heffner, Redeemer Church Children’s Ministry Director