"The Water Mill church of Christ"

  1. Welcome to our first meeting as the Water Mill church of Christ!

    1. Your presence this morning indicates that you have some appreciation for what a meaningful day this is for us.

    2. Like the mile markers out by the Interstate, this is a milestone in our lives-the fruit of years of thought and effort, and a season of high expectations.

    3. Thank you for recognizing that and celebrating it with us.

  2. I can think of no better way to properly welcome you than to explain to you what we mean by "the Water Mill church of Christ." It involves a line of thought which will help us all.

  3. "The church of Christ" is who we are.

    1. The scriptures indicate that the Lord always wanted a people for his own possession.
      1. It's because of his love: love needs someone to love and to be loved by.
      2. You and I got our hunger for the companionship of family and friends and neighbors from him.

    2. One of the themes of the Bible is that the church is the Lord's answer to his longing for a people of his own.
      1. The Lord obtained the church with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
      2. He loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Eph. 5:25)
      3. The church isn't ours, it's his. In fact, the church isn't an it; the church is people who have been cleansed by Christ. (Eph. 5:26, 27)

    3. This is as it was at the beginning. (cf. Acts 11:15)
      1. "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." (Acts 2:23-24); Acts 2: 33, 36-38, 41, 47
      2. The Lord adds those whom he forgives, when he forgives them, to his people. That's what the church is!
      3. The church isn't an it that saves them. The church is the they who are saved by him.

    4. We rejoice in being a people who belong to Christ.
      1. I'm always getting in the mail samples of pens that could be used in publicizing the church. They have printed on them, for illustration's sake, a certain number of letters where the name of the church would be. This week I received one which said, "North National church of Chris." I'm afraid that may be too accurate a description of how folks think!
      2. In New Testament days, there were people who said "I am of Paul" or "I am of Apollos" or "I am of Cephas" or "I am of Christ," as if Christ were just the leader of one competing religious sect. (1 Cor. 1:12)
      3. That's not what we mean by "of Christ." We mean that Christ died for us, and we were baptized in his name, and that he is one. (cf. 1 Cor. 1:13) We mean that it is our privilege to greet you in the wonderful name of the Lord (cf. Rom. 16:16), as people whose only claim is that there is no one like him, and whose loyalty is to no one but him. The church of Christ is who we are.

  4. "Water Mill" is where we meet.

    1. The scriptures teach that Christians in a given area are to meet together to remember the Lord, encourage each other in the Lord, and work as a team to make the Lord known in the community.
      1. As a matter of fact, the word "church" suggests "an assembly called together."
      2. We get a glimpse of what this means in practice in Acts 14:21-23: "When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord to whom they had believed."
      3. Notice that this provides sufficient organization for a local church of the Lord to continue in the faith anywhere.

    2. In a similar way, Water Mill suggests the church which gathers together in the Valley Water Mill area of Springfield. This is where we'll meet as a people to remember the Lord, be accountable to each other, and to be a blessing to the community. We've been doing that for a long time over on North National.

    3. We chose this description of the location of our meeting house because of its identity with the north side of Springfield and the center of Greene County.
      1. "The VWM area has had a long history of industry in the middle and late nineteenth century when it was used as a grist mill and pond, and then as a water supply for the city of Springfield in the early and middle twentieth century." (Study by the Center For Archaeological Research at MSU)
      2. Its source was the Sander Spring, a large spring which was estimated to have discharged eight million gallons of water in twenty-four hours.
      3. A dam, mill race and mill were built there sometime in the mid 1850s and the services it provided must have been important to the life and survival of the community. The mill was at work at least into 1898.
      4. The Springfield Water Company purchased the property in 1899 and a new dam was constructed in 1908, when it was discovered that Sander Spring was connected hydrologically to Fulbright and Ritter Springs. The city of Springfield bought the Springfield Water Company in 1957.
      5. In the early 1900s, the community in the Valley Water Mill area was served by the presence of two schools, the Grandview School for white children and the New Hope School for black children.

    4. I've told you this so I can point that besides the geographical location, Water Mill may serve as something of a symbol of what we hope our presence in this community will mean.
      1. We want, as our Lord said, a spring of water to be welling up within us to eternal life, so that anyone who is thirsty may be encouraged to come and drink freely. (cf. Jn. 4:14; 7:37, 38).
      2. We hope the fruit of the Spirit will be abundant in our lives, and that this community will be blessed by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control through our involvement in it. (Gal. 5:22, 23)
      3. We long for our neighbors to be taught of God, and for our brothers and sisters in Christ all around to know that we stand with them.

  5. "The Water Mill church of Christ" is what we are about. It is the best summary of what our dreams for this new meeting place are.

    1. We intend to fill this place up with grateful, scriptural worship of our Lord.
      1. It is our desire to join with all of heaven and earth in proclaiming, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" (Rev. 5:13)
      2. We believe that the only appropriate response for having received a kingdom that cannot be shaken is to offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. (Heb. 12:28)
      3. We will therefore continually present to the Lord a sacrifice of glad, thankful and humble praise, from our hearts and in obedience to his word.

    2. We desire to warm this place up with sincere, brotherly affection for the Lord's people.
      1. This would be the only way to warm the atmosphere in the church, whether the building in which it meets were old or new, small or large - "... the building you meet in cannot love you back." Either way, brotherly affection can warm it up.
      2. Paul offered descriptions of what it means for love to be genuine among the Lord's people in Romans 12:9: "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good."; Romans 10, 13, 15, 16....
      3. While we are continuing to offer a sacrifice of praise, we want to continue to "let brotherly love continue". (Heb. 13:1)

    3. We expect to use this place up in tireless, faithful service for the Lord's sake.
      1. We want to take care of it like a good workman takes care of his tools, but because it is a tool, not because it is some kind of sacred shrine or holy museum or workshop to be admired.
      2. We feel it is our responsibility to use it in every possible way we can to hold forth the word of life to the community, to establish and strengthen Christian relationships, and to do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
      3. With the Lord's help, we long for this to be home to a vital, faithful and fruitful congregation of the Lord for as far into the future as the house at National and High was into the past.

  6. Lewis McAdams, who had grown up in slavery and was skilled in making harnesses, had become a successful farmer and businessman. Five of his seven children were to become teachers. In 1898, Mr. McAdams was trying to "throw a belt" in the old water mill for which this area is known when he was fatally wounded. He was buried in the Union Campground Cemetery. Not too long after that tragic accident, the old mill was apparently either dismantled or destroyed.

  7. We are here at this "Water Mill" because of a life which was given, not by accident but by sacrifice. It was followed not by a lost burial spot, but by victory over our enemy. And, it led not to the dismantling of anything, but to the building of the household of God. Because of it, anyone who will may come to the Lord this very day. Will you?