Hope Weekly 8/19/13
We set out on our sabbatical on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 and returned on Friday, August 2. It was an amazing trip filled with the beauty of God’s creation, a family reunion, a time of study at Regent College and memories galore. If you’d like to hear more details listen to my sermon on “Sabbatical Reflections” (8-11-13), or ask Sheri and she will share 200 pages of journaling and 500 photographs (not really – yes, really!)
But I’m glad to be home. In spite of triple digits and over 800 emails in my inbox, I’m glad to be home. Let me tell you why. It’s because of you, my church family, my friends and parishioners and co-laborers. You are why I longed to return…The Body of Christ…The Church of Jesus Christ…my beloved. Here’s the way John described his love for his co-laborers:
“I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 2-4
That’s it. My heart rejoices when I hear about your faith (and faithfulness) and how God is using Hope Covenant Church to further His Kingdom. You are amazing. You were missed. I’m glad to be home.
One of our new families (within the last 18 months) sent me an email that reflects my heart. It reads in part:
First of all, those pastors and elders did more than “keep it together.” They enriched us beyond what I thought would be possible. Every service we attended showed us another layer of Hope that I am not sure we would have seen otherwise. When Pastor Brandon started us off, we felt security, knowing that we would still have leadership and an analytical insight into the Word and we were treated to his wonderful sense of humor as well. Pastor Corrie has a way of painting a picture such that you felt you were there with the disciples and those emotions help make the message relevant and more easily transferable to our everyday lives. I absolutely loved hearing Alyssa Brooks-Dowty speak. She showed us that our own experiences matter. We don’t have to be perfect, and in sharing those experiences, we can make the daily practice of Christianity less intimidating to those who it is an “all or nothing” endeavor. Steve Reed was so engaging, funny and moving. He showed a respect for his fellow parishioners that was such an example: we can learn from one another.
And that is really what I think was one of the greatest lessons we got during your absence. Don’t get me wrong, the sermons on the Beatitudes were not lost on me, but wrapped up in those sermons was the reminder that we, as a congregation, can and should learn from one another. Just because the conductor is gone doesn’t mean that the orchestra can’t make beautiful music together.
I think there is no way the congregation cannot be stronger for having experienced this during your absence. I also think there is no way you cannot be stronger for having been away, replenishing the stores that you so generously give to the Church. I thank you and the elders so much for the careful guidance. You are all so appreciated!
That is why I’m glad to return to Chandler and to Hope. You. Your faithfulness. You.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4