Hearts That Sanctify
So, this is my first "Friday E-mail" as your new pastor at Hebron Presbyterian Church. I am delighted to be here with you in Goochland County, and I appreciate the warm welcome I have received. For those who don't yet know, I'm making my temporary residence in a cottage on a farm owned by church members. It's a lovely setting, and one which I especially appreciate after having lived "in the woods" for more than a decade in Asheboro, North Carolina. There are advantages to living in the woods (beautiful bird song, the sound of rain in the trees), but witnessing sunrises and sunsets are pleasures enjoyed in more open spaces. After the deluge of several days of rain, I came home one evening at just the right time to witness a beautiful sunset. It felt like a "welcome gift" to this community.
One wishes that all moments of life could be filled with such peace and beauty. Being blissfully without much electronic connection this week, it was late in the day Wednesday before I learned of the school shooting in Broward County, Florida. There's no need to recount the details here, as most of you have heard them, by now. We are deeply touched by such a tragedy, and we ponder anew questions about weapons, and mental health, and the fallen nature of this world in which we live. There are hard questions that need to be asked about a culture that can produce such an event.
How does a Christian respond to an event such as the school shooting in Florida this week? First, I believe, we pray. Though the phrase "thoughts and prayers" has been maligned recently on social media as being mere lip service, there is value in true "thoughts and prayers." We pray for the victims, for families who've lost loved ones, for the community that has been shaken by this tragedy, for students and teachers who are afraid to return to school, for law enforcement who seek ways to prevent future incidents such as this, and even for the shooter himself, that his heart would be softened to the love of the Lord, to recognize what he has wrought and to seek and experience God's mercy.
Then, we pray for wisdom to ask the right questions, and to seek answers that matter. We pray that God will not let us forget and merely move on with our lives after such a tragedy, but that our Lord will lead people of knowledge and influence and good intention to effect real solutions. You and I may not personally solve all the world's problems, but we pray for God to show us where God wants us to act, and to speak; and that all those whom God is calling to respond to tragedy will hear that call to step into what God is already doing in this world.
Preparing to Worship Together
The sermon passage for this Sunday, February 18th, is 1st Peter 3:13-22 The sermon title is "Hearts That Sanctify," taken from verses 14-16:
"But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence..."
A couple of upcoming events to mention:
This coming Wednesday, February 21st, we'll begin a five-week intergenerational study called "What is Love," using events in the life of King David to look at the meaning, risks and rewards of godly love.
The study will begin at 6:30 p.m., after the Wednesday meal.
NEXT Sunday, February 25th, Hebron Kids for Christ will have a Winter Beach Movie Party after worship, with lunch and a movie at the Parrish House (11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.)