Greetings Family & Friends of Hopewell,
Hopewell is in an important Transition time. Whenever a Pastor
leaves a congregation it begins a season of change. Change can produce
fear in us humans, can’t it? In this letter, I’d like to focus my
thoughts for Hopewell in two areas:
1. Remember Jesus’ Command to Us as humans following Him
2. Seeking God Together.
Jesus has described us (his followers) as a flock of sheep. Transitions
times are the moments when Jesus our Shepherd takes us from one
pasture to a new pasture! May Hopewell be refreshed as Jesus leads!
Remember Jesus’ Command to Us as humans following Him
On the night before he died Jesus took a lot of time to teach and
remind his disciples of everything they would need in order to fulfill
the mission he was giving them. John records this great teaching
in his Gospel, chapters 13 through 16. In the heart of the teaching
Jesus says this: “This is my commandment, that you love one another
as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone
lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13). Jesus, of course,
was pointing to the fact that He would physically and spiritually
lay down his life in sacrificial love, dying for our salvation.
What Jesus was teaching though is the principal that His Church
is built by people who, while living everyday lives, lay down their
lives for each other! That is Jesus call to Hopewell – lay down
your lives to serve each other!
Paul described the way this kind of sacrificial love in action might
look in a local church. In Philippians two he writes: So if there
is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation
in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being
of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and
of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in
humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each
of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests
of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ
Jesus. (2:1-5) Look at the descriptions of sacrificial love in that
passage: Encouragement, Comfort, Participation, Affection, Sympathy,
Unity, Humility, Looking to the interests of others (“How can I
serve them today?”).
God has given Hopewell members all kinds of gifts, and he now calls
you to use your gifts to serve his body the church in sacrificial
love! This will keep Hopewell strong in the Lord!
Seeking God Together
In the prophecies of Isaiah, the prophet was given some challenging
words to speak to God’s people Israel (“Zion”) when they were in
a time of Transition. In chapter 30 and 31, Isaiah starts with three
verses (1-3 of 30 and 31) of very strong warning against relying
on themselves, or on other powers of this world. I encourage you
to read the following verses in their context as they are very strong
warnings. As we are all humans, we all can suffer from Self-reliance
instead of God-reliance! God says watch out – that is not what God
wants for us! Then in chapter 33, verses 5 & 6, God gives a
very great promise to his people right (“Zion”) in the middle of
their Transition time.
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; He will fill Zion with
justice and righteousness,
and He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation,
wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure. (Isaiah 33:5-6, ESV)
As Hopewell looks forward to the new pasture of God; to a new Pastor
to serve, teach, preach and share leadership with the Session, and
to years of worshipping God, glorifying God and proclaiming his
Gospel love to all, May you remember that “the Lord will be the
stability of your times,” and may you seek Him together. Amen!
In Jesus’s Amazing Grace & Peace,