Pastor’s Ponderings for May

Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NRSV)

Dear friends in Christ,

The people of Israel have two great stories of deliverance. The first is the story of Moses, and God deliverance of the people from bondage in Egypt. Then, roughly 900 years later, the people of Israel are once more in exile, this time in Babylon. It is to these people that the Prophet Isaiah writes, saying essentially, “Don’t dwell on God’s previous grace, because if you do, you may miss what God is about to do in this day.” 

Soon, God delivers the people once more, and they return to their land where they begin to rebuild the temple, their homes, and their lives.

As we turn our calendars to the month of May, I could not help but think that for many, this is a time of new beginnings. Several of our young friends and family members are graduating from high school or college and beginning a new chapter of their lives. May is also the start of the wedding season, when many couples will start a new life together with a shared purpose and commitment. For area farmers and our gardening friends, May is the month when plants and flowers take root for a summer of beauty and a fall harvest.

And finally, I could not help but think of St. Mark’s Mission and Action team, because May will be the month when they will begin tabulating the results of our recent survey which will help St. Mark’s, as a church, bring clarity to our shared values and set a course for the future.

As Christians, we continue to celebrate what God has done for us, and for the world, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—after all, it is the center of our faith and life together—however we must also be sensitive to the wonderful new things God is doing in our lives and in the world around us.

A rearview mirror in a car serves a vital purpose. We look at it from time to time as we drive, so that we do not lose our perspective of where we are on the road in relation to those around us. A quick look in the mirror may also help us to identify something we did not fully recognize moments earlier as we passed by. However, there is a reason that the rearview mirror is so small compared to our windshield, because what lies before us is the most important.

Sometimes, both as individuals and as a church, we get preoccupied with where we have been,  especially if the road before us looks uncertain. But when we trust the one who makes a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, we avoid the obstacles along our path, and we begin to recognize  the road makers that guide our way.

Wherever you are on your life journey, stay alert for new beginnings, because you never know when God is about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it

God’s continued blessings during this season of Easter!

Pastor Bob

Pastor’s Ponderings for April

“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” (James 5:7-8 NRSV)

Dear Friends in Christ,

In the verses above from the book of James, the writer encourages the church to be patient in waiting for the Lord’s return. It is likely that the church is suffering persecution and James does not want them to give up hope.

Because of the coronavirus, this past year has been a particularly difficult, not only for our church     community, but for people around the world. In no way do I want to equate the persecution of the early church to our situation, but still, when times are rough and we are waiting on the situation to improve, being patient is not easy.

Last year, St. Mark’s Church Council felt it was in the best interest of the health of our faith community to not celebrate the Lord’s resurrection with in-person worship. Now, this year, many of us will gather  in-person on Easter Sunday, but still it will not be as it was in the past. Everyone will be wearing a mask, there will be physical distancing, and no Easter breakfast or fellowship after the worship service.

We continue to “wait on the Lord” to make things as they were before. And, for those who still feel    vulnerable about meeting in-person for health reasons, I would encourage you to continue to gather in community and worship on our St. Mark’s Facebook page.

Like the farmer in James’ analogy, we must be patient for both the early and the late rains will come.

Having grown up on a farm, the one thing I do know, is that a farmer does not sit around and wait for the crops to grow. There are always other chores to keep you busy. Perhaps, there are livestock to feed, buildings and fences to repair, or other crops to fertilize, cultivate, and, if   possible, to water.

Waiting on the Lord does not mean that we stop doing what we can.

The story is told of a of a long-time church member who would interject the same advice into every problem. At some point in the discussion, he would stand up and say, “Let’s pray about it and turn it over to God to take care of.” Praying for God’s guidance is always wise no matter the circumstance,      however, we ought to remember that God is at work, not only through our prayers, but through our actions.   

Perhaps, no New Testament writer knows this better than James, who says, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22). James was a doer, but he also believed in the power of prayer, as he encouraged the community to continually and confidently pray for healing, forgiveness, and restoration of the Christian community.

This year, as we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection and move forward confidently in ministry, let us pray for healing, forgiveness, the restoration of the Christian community, and a renewed vision for our church and our own faith life. And let us continue to do ministry where and when we can, as we wait on the Lord for the early and late rains.

God’s continued blessings during this season of Easter!

Pastor Bob