We are immensely blessed to have a pastor with a loving family, who are all fervently missed during this sabbatical. But in Pastor Kevin’s absence God continues to graciously provide through His willing and gifted servants. Our genuine, diverse, faithful church family experienced another beautiful and rich worship service Sunday morning.
An introduced prelude of quiet reflection began the service. Harps & keyboard filled us with a lovely rendition of How Great Thou Art. This originally Swedish hymn gently brought to mind a parallel with our Covenant denomination’s Swedish roots that have, like the hymn, been transformed and spread Christ’s message and fruit to a world hungry for love and truth.
We continue to experience considerable health trials and this week learned of our former pastor Jim Bucher’s recent surgery and reaction to medication that has him in a semicoma. There is strong focus on our need for prayer, perspective, patience, soft hearts, and strength (of all kinds), with reliance on the Holy Spirit for each of these things.
Brother Michael Uhler delivered the message of Hope. Hope in the Bible is not what we mean if we say we hope we’ll win the lotto. Biblical hope is an assured Faith in something that we know will happen in the future.
For context, Biblical foundation was cited for our strong Faith of things in the past (the reality of Creation, Adam, Abraham, Jonah, Christ birth, death, and resurrection) and Faith of things in the present (God’s many promises- of not leaving us, of our not being tempted beyond what we can handle, that grace is sufficient, that there is no condemnation for those who accept His grace and make Him Lord, and that trials are ultimately for good).
Classic dynamic quotes, including audio and video clips, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought home how we live in a messed up world corrupted by sin; but also how the light of stars shine brightest in a dark night sky. While God’s will for our longevity has its place, our Promise Land is on the other side of death. Dr. King’s assassination not long after his final speech powerfully recapitulated the message he proclaimed.
It’s a message our perspectives don’t always incorporate when we’re in the midst of our trials. Michael shared a personal story of experiencing fear after his vehicle broke down in the Sahara desert. While he was unaware of some key pertinent facts in his situation, God wasn’t and God had things well in hand.
Michael taught from some mighty passages including Hebrews 11, Isaiah 8 and 9, and Romans 8. While we live in and struggle to thrive in our sin-impacted bodies in this sin-impacted world, our hope is ultimately and so powerfully in God- the One who already conquered Death and who awaits our resurrection and eternity with Him.
Michael charged us to seek the face of God and make sure our face is turned toward Him. For what we hope for has already been assured by the One who has never failed a single promise What is left is the living out of the renewal of our eternal inward selves, even as our outer transient bodies deteriorate with old age and disease. Then, along with a creation that is groaning inwardly to be set free from corruption, we will be raised by Him who already raised Jesus. Amen and Amen