How many times have you heard the phrase “new beginnings” recently? I know I’ve personally used it many times so far in my ministry with you, and it’s probably used elsewhere in this newsletter, too. “I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19), God says in Isaiah. Yes, it’s true. God is always doing new things, and it is especially apparent to us in such a time as this.
But. It is also apparent that God seems to want to use “old” tools to do something new. If God is doing a new thing with First Christian, it can only be with the currently available tools that are present to be the foundation. In other words, God is doing a new thing, and you are integral to making it happen.
We want the same thing that God wants. We want the church to succeed. But I’ll admit, I feel some fear, and I crave God’s reassurance. And so I offer to you, who might also be feeling a little fear, a litany, of sorts, with our fears named, and our fears reassured, with Mt 6:25-34:
Litany of Fears and Reassurance, Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
We want the church to succeed.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
We want the church to be there for us when we need it – we want there to be arms to hug us when we need support.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
We want a pastor to be available to listen when we are distressed, to pray over us when we are hurting.
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
We want to come to church on Sunday morning and be reminded that we are not alone, that we have a family full of friends in a place that holds our history, our care, our investment.
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”
We want there to be a place in which we are assured that we are needed and loved – that our skills can be put to use in order to protect and further this place that we need.
“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
We are afraid when we feel that this place, this sanctuary for our rest, is threatened. We are afraid that the building and institution might still exist, but that it will no longer be a place of security for the individual who has known it before.
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
We are afraid that the place and entity might not continue to exist – that the resources, both monetary and human, will become too few; the upkeep will become too much; deaths will become too many, and our place of sanctuary will be lost.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
God will take care of us. As the old hymn says: “No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you; Lean, weary one upon His breast, God will take care of you.” (God Will Take Care of You, Civilla D. Martin, 1904). I don't know exactly how that care will look. But I know that, as the scripture promises, if we put God's commandments -- love God, love your neighbor as you love yourself -- first, our needs will be provided for, and we will be able to offer this sanctuary, this place of rest, to others for years to come.