Last Sunday in worship I used the example of playing Peek-a-boo with the children to describe the experience of being surprised by the joy of the Lord. I wish I could have captured the giggling, surprised, attentive, joy-filled faces of our children just then! It continues to give me joy, even as I write this post. If I could have captured it somehow, I would share it with everyone as an experience of the surprising joy of God's grace. I would also like to capture the look of joy on each of your faces in that moment, to give you a tiny glimpse of the joy I imagine God experiences whenever God looks at you. I imagine it to be the joy that we will all experience when God's kingdom/rule/reign/kin-dom is fully realized, when our Christ is seated on the throne of God's grace.
Until that time comes, we have to hold onto the experiences of being surprised by the joy of the Lord because they are the source of our strength. The Holy Spirit will recall these moments of joy and instill in us the hope we have in Christ Jesus to keep shining the light of that joy. Without hope to oppose the powers and principalities that cause terror, grief, sadness, and shock, very much like what we have been seeing on the faces of children who are being separated from their parents even as I write this. I raise this up, because I have seen the joy of the Lord, and I have witnessed it among you. We gather together for worship, because the kin-dom of God is not an individual effort but is at the very heart of the work of God's people. That work is to remember that we are all God's children and to catch glimpses of God who surprises us and longs to see the shining joy of trust reflected in the faces of all people.
As we make our way to our worship here at Hope, I invite you to read these Scripture Lessons, Mark 4:35-41 and 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 to prepare yourself for the proclamation and activation of the Word in worship and praise for this coming Sunday.
As you read this, my family and I are visiting the General Assembly in St. Louis observing the national church at work, seeing old friends, making a few new acquaintances and being surprised by the in-breaking of the kin-dom of God. For those who are traveling, remember to travel safely, enjoy the journey, gather up stories and come home to share them! As a reminder, this summer is another great opportunity to invite family, friends, neighbors and anyone you meet to come worship with you at Hope.
This coming Saturday, June 16, 2018, will mark the opening of the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), in nearby St. Louis, Missouri. The General Assembly is the highest governing body for our "Reformed, Always Reforming" church with a membership of close to 1.5 million members.
For many, this event will pass without much notice or news in public media outlets, neither fake nor fair. That is, unless some bold action is taken by the hundreds of commissioners who have gathered from across the country, including international mission partners (to read more go to http://www.pcusa.org). Our Clerk of Session, Gary Terpstra, is one of those commissioners, so he will be part of the action beginning this Saturday morning at 11:00 am with opening worship and ending the following Saturday with closing worship. Members of HPC's Missions Committee, including Kathy Sorensen, Carol Finley, and Sue Hack, will attend the Global Missions Luncheon on Monday to hear Leisa Wagstaff speak. Leisa has visited Hope in years past and is one of three missionaries Hope supports annually.
For many, the GA is like "Old Home Week" and an opportunity to see colleagues and friends like a big family reunion. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend, for even a short time, this biennial gathering to watch the church at work. Now, before anyone likens this activity to watching paint dry, I will remind you (and myself) that the work of being the church is about paying attention to the movement of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit moves in the lives of individuals and then gathers them into groups to collectively pay attention to that movement and to discern the direction that wind/breath/Spirit is moving us all. I remind you: "none of us knows as much as all of us know together." A corollary statement might be, "Each of us serves best when all of us serve together." Whether you attend GA or not, I urge you to join in the millions of prayers that will assist us all in discerning where the Holy Spirit is empowering the church in being the church.
And as we make our way to our worship here at Hope, I invite you to read these Scripture Lessons, Mark 4:26-34 and 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 to prepare yourself for the proclamation and activation of the Word in worship and praise for this coming Sunday. For those who are traveling, remember to travel safely, enjoy the journey, gather up stories and come home to share them! As a reminder, this summer is another great opportunity to invite family, friends, neighbors and anyone you meet to come worship with you at Hope.
As Reformed Christians, we believe that God equips every person with gifts, talents, and skills to be used not only for one's self alone, but to be shared in the community of faith and spread out into the rest of the world. The gifts God gives find their best expression when nurtured in the community of faith and shared in helping God's kin-dom be made real. This Sunday we will confirm, through ordination and installation, the call of God to be church officers, as elders and deacons. Officers are active members of Hope Presbyterian Church who have been asked and/or felt some sense of call to use their gifts at this time for the ministry, nurture, and governance of this congregation, and to the holy catholic (universal) and apostolic (connected to Jesus' first disciples) church! What a hopeful and exciting moment to witness firsthand the movement of God's Holy Spirit in the church, local and universal!
The installation of new officers means they are receiving the baton of leadership from a group of dedicated officers who have completed one or two consecutive terms (3 years each) as elders or deacons. By our polity (governance structure), their ordination is for a lifetime, whether actively serving or actively resting from service. I hope you all will join me in offering deep gratitude to God for their service and ministry. I will miss their presence in meetings (though I'm sure THEY won't miss the meeting part!) while at the same time I am eager to see where else God will call upon them to use their gifts. Please pray for all of those in leadership and service to God through church leadership.
I also invite you to read these Scripture Lessons Psalm 138 and 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1 to prepare yourself for the proclamation and activation of the Word in worship and praise for this coming Sunday.
As a reminder this summer is another great opportunity to invite family, friends, neighbors and anyone you meet to come worship with you at Hope. And for those who are traveling, remember to travel safely, enjoy the journey, gather up stories and come home to share them!
Peace be with you as you go to be the Church!
Pastor Chuck Goodman has been pastor at Hope for nearly ten years. He writes each week about what's on his mind, giving readers something to meditate on until and beyond Sunday.