[David] said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord’s anointed.” – 1 Samuel 24:6
It is time for summer, and I am not sure what to write. What source of inspiration is valid for this unique and challenging situation in which we find ourselves? Nevertheless, I contend there is always cause for hope. Throughout the Bible, people of faith have been pushed to their limits, and often, they have responded in ways which others may have not. For example, David and his men once hid in a series of caves in a remote portion of Israel while on the run from King Saul, his father-in-law who wanted to hunt him down and kill him out of jealousy. Saul’s army came close to catching David when Saul, alone at the time, just happened to enter the very same cave where David was hiding (read all about it in 1 Samuel 24!). David’s advisors urged their captain to take advantage of this gift of Saul’s undefended presence, but David refused. Instead, David snuck up and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. Soon after, David confronted his pursuer and made it clear how he could have taken Saul’s life but did not, for he knew it was not right in the eyes of God. This was a turning point for Saul, who now realized the folly of his endeavor and recognized that God was with David. Saul then promised David he would no longer seek to harm him. From that time on, the standing of David increased while the reign of Saul diminished. Thus as it was for David and for us still today, it can be the little decisions of faithfulness that can make a big difference.
During this summer unlike any other, may we continue to seek to make good decisions, both large and small, that honor God. Also in the midst of our schedules and obligations, may we still find times of rest and renewal as summers are intended to provide. Please join us on-line at ramaporeformedchurch.org for worship and updates on how we, as a family of faith at the Ramapo Reformed Church, may continue to stay connected even during these times when we are finding ourselves to be apart.
Anchored in the past - Sharing Christ’s message today - Growing in faith into the future!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6
Earlier this year when we still could travel, Debbie and I drove to Savannah, Georgia for a wedding. Stopping off along the way, we visited family on St. Simon’s Island. On touring the island and learning about the history of this beautiful place, we came upon Christ Episcopal Church, practically adjacent to Fort Frederica. I was delighted to learn that while Savannah was the first missionary location for John Wesley, this church and fort was the first pastoral assignment for his younger brother, Charles. This brought me back to my church history lessons, where I studied how these two famous brothers did not fare so well in their first calling in the Colonies. In fact, Charles returned to England after a short time, while John returned just over a year later rather abruptly following a disagreement. Depressed and feeling unsuccessful in ministry, John was ready to forgo his calling and follow another path. Not too long after, John was walking on Aldersgate Street in London when he experienced a life altering change of heart. One thing led to another, and, like Martin Luther some two hundred years before, John founded a bold, new way of practicing faith and worship. All simply by doing what he felt God was leading him to do. Today we call this new way the Methodist Church, and it has been a witness to the gospel around the world ever since.
We currently live in a time of uncertainty in dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic. I am quite sure we will get past this but at what cost, and what will the world look like when it is over? Yet when I think back to the great uncertainty John and Charles Wesley encountered when they were just getting started in the Colonies, my heart becomes strangely warmed as well. I realize that even when we think we are failing, God may just have better plans for us as we seek to follow. And is not this the Easter story? If anyone ever thought that life was over as they knew it, it would have been Jesus’ personally chosen disciples on the first Good Friday. But God knew better. And on the third day the world changed, and it has never been the same since. I know I never get everything right all the time, but I do know that God is at work in each of our lives to help us find our way. Thus as we seek to move forward into our future, may the grace of God and the promise of the gospel, forged from the fire of Good Friday and Easter, help us as we seek to live on and support each other in this time of need. And until the time when we are allowed to visit in person once again, blessings be upon you, your families, and the communities in which we live.
Anchored in the past, sharing Christ’s message today, and growing in faith into the future
No matter what time of year it is, dead of winter with the snow blowing all around, or heat of summer with the air heavy with moisture, our lives continue to unfold and time never seems to stand still. Sometimes it feels like life is passing us by and we worry because there isn’t enough time to get everything done. Yet at other times, we worry because there is free time and we must therefore not be doing enough. And there always seem to be difficulties of one kind or another that pop up out of nowhere. Rarely, it seems, are we satisfied that life is just as it is meant to be. The question is, then, do we focus on the worry and the problems, or do we accept that they are there and focus, instead, on the things in our lives that are fun, loving, and joyous?
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells a story about weeds and wheat growing together in the field (Mt 13:24-30). The farmer had planted the wheat, but then an enemy had come along and planted the weeds. The farmer’s helpers want to pull the weeds, but the farmer will not let them, because the wheat might be harmed. It is better to error on the side of protecting the wheat, the farmer says, rather than on getting rid of the weeds. The farmer’s choice is to wait until the harvest and then to sort things out.
If we think of this in terms of God being the farmer, and us being the wheat, the message is that God loves us too much to risk harming us at this point in time by getting rid of all our problems. That may not make sense, but it seems to be true. Agriculturists say that one way to have fewer weeds in a garden, or field, is to have healthier plants. And plants grow healthier with more sun, fertilizer, and water. We, too, can help lessen the impact of the weeds in our lives by growing healthier, not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Spending more time with God, through prayer, bible reading, and worship will help us shift our focus away from the weeds and more towards the wonderful things in our lives. The weeds will never completely go away in this life, and sometimes they will be more numerous than at other times, but our lives will be better, because our focus is on the positive and not on the negative.
If we can help you on your journey at all, please do not hesitate to call or to visit us on Sunday mornings.
Anchored in the past, sharing Christ’s message today, and growing in faith into the future.