This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. – 1 John 3:16
There was a greeting card recently that read, “All we need is love.” It was written in large, florid, upper case letters, almost reminiscent of the Beatles song of a similar name, filling every square inch of the beautiful cover of the missive. The brightly colored illustration enhanced the boldness of the message: a fuzzy, feel-good message, full of the conviction that both the sender and the receiver may sit back and let life go by, because of course, love is all they need.
How often is our faith life like that card? “We are baptized. It’s all good.” “Sure I’m saved. Heaven’s in the bag.” “Hey there, hungry, cold, lonely stranger. Jesus loves you, so it’s all right.” It sounds a little harsh that way; but how often do we take God’s steadfast love for granted, and just cruise along through our spiritual lives, as if faith ends with recognizing God’s love?
Luckily, that greeting card had an inside message. A complete contrast to the wild colors and large letters that claimed on the cover, “All we need is love,” it read in small, simple, almost timid writing: “…And patience. And hope. And tolerance. And guts. And resilience… But mostly, love.”
The truth of our relationship with God is that it begins with God’s love. It doesn’t end there. After accepting the love of our Creator, we must take up His work and His message, and bring it to others, so they may begin their faith journeys. To do that, we must pray for patience, and hope, and tolerance, and guts, and resilience; but mostly, to recall God’s steadfast love through it all.
Has your personal faith stagnated lately? Are you resting on the laurels of salvation, instead of taking up your cross and following Him? If so, now is the time to enter a season in His service. Perhaps there is a ministry you have admired, but never attempted? (I recommend joining the choir, bells, or helping with Children’s Music!) Perhaps you have ministered a long time in one area, but need a change? Perhaps you feel you are too ill, too busy, or too aged; perhaps you feel you are not smart enough, talented enough, or persistent enough? Pray about it. God knows exactly where you are needed most. There are many ministries to try, from helping at the food bank to praying for every person on the prayer chain; and asking God to show you the way will reveal many more ways to serve Him than you can imagine.
We wish you great patience in your quest to find how best to serve…and hope, and tolerance, and guts, and resilience. But mostly, love.
Mark and Treva
As most of you heard, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s, my Dad died on January 4th. Our family went to California for his services the weekend of January 21-22. I truly appreciate the cards and prayers we have received from all of you. The support has been a wonderful gift to me as I muddle through this experience.
On January 14th we had the memorial service for Pete McGuire. It was a wonderful service, with a full sanctuary. We’ve had quite a few funerals / memorial services this past year. I am convinced that there is an opportunity for ministry which many of you can do when someone dies. There are at least three ways you can show love and support to those who are grieving.
First, send cards. I never really thought much about this ministry until Tanya’s Dad died last year. The cards we received really were a wonderful gift. Before this I didn’t always read the message on cards that I receive, but I have read all the cards for Tanya’s Dad and for my Dad. The messages that they give are a comfort. The message I appreciate most is that comfort comes from the memories we have of loved ones and from the hope of eternal life we have through Jesus Christ.
Second, if at all possible, come to the funeral. In Jesus’ time there were professional mourners, people who came to a funeral even if they didn’t know the person who died. I always thought that was weird, but the more I think about it, simply showing up to a funeral is a form of ministry. Pete’s service was full, which was a wonderful gift to the family. Simply coming to a funeral is a form of ministry.
Third, pray. Pray that God would comfort the person grieving. Pray that they would remember the promise of eternal life and the hope we have that death is not the end. Pray that as the anniversaries and important dates come up they would continue to remember their loved one and know God’s abiding presence filling the empty place in their hearts.
Death is never easy. Yet the reality is that we all must deal with it. As Thomas Green said, “All of us must die; to accept death, however, to affirm it, to say ‘yes’ to it as the necessary culmination of life, is perhaps the most important and difficult confrontation of a person’s life” (When the Well Runs Dry p82). As we deal with death, whether our own or that of a loved one, let us remember that “Through death we are recalled from exile to dwell in the fatherland, in the heavenly fatherland” (John Calvin, Institutes III.9.6). Death is not the final answer. Life is. Jesus promised “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10, The Message).
This winter, Mark and Treva are offering an exploratory bell ringing class for anyone who would like to try their hand at ringing. No experience is required. No commitment to join the Bell Ringers is required, either! You don’t even need to know how to read music. All you need to do is show up at the bell room on any Wednesday evening at 6:30 pm for about 30 minutes. Several beginner ringers have already tried it, and are learning the very basics in an easy, fun atmosphere. It’s a safe, unintimidating way to explore music! Ages 13-130 are welcome. See Mark or Treva for more information.
We need volunteers to serve Home Communion to our At Home Members. It is a very easy and rewarding way to include our At Home Members living in Moon and Crescent Townships in the life of our church. This year I would like to be able to offer it, more regularly to some members who also live in Sewickley. Pastor Doug made a pamphlet that is easy to follow and has everything you need to know. I’m sure he would be happy to repeat the training this year for anyone who is interested as well. Although the training is not necessary, it is helpful to make volunteers more comfortable with the process. Communion Kits are prepared in advance and may be picked up immediately after the church service. Two people always go together, and the time is set up by mutual agreement of the volunteers and the At Home Member being served. The dated for 2017 are February 5, May 7, August 6 and November 5. At Home Members living in Moon and Crescent will receive a post card to remind them of upcoming Home Communion dates in advance. A phone call from the office to confirm will also be made. Please contact Jan Weber or Debbie in the office for more information if you would like to serve.
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