Preacher’s Post: Hope and Community Go Together

Hebrews 10:23-25:  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Sounds like pretty good advice given the events of the past ten days. Community is nice when things are on track. Community is essential when life goes off track. We had a great barbecue at the end of our “Don’t Go To Church—Be The Church” a week ago Sunday. It was so fun to break bread together and join in celebrating the contributions we’d made to the community. But our gathering this past Sunday morning with our flashlights was something so much deeper and more powerful. It was more than wanting to gather—those of us who were available needed to gather.

We need one another, but during the good times we forget that. Gathering together as “the body of Christ” becomes one of several options on any given Sunday morning. But like not eating a healthy diet and skipping the exercise we are not all that excited about, the effect on our physical health doesn’t suddenly make itself felt. It’s as we routinely make unhealthy choices that the effects make themselves felt a little bit here—a little bit there—until one day we know what we enjoyed—physical vitality—is gone. How do we get it back? By ever so slowly, on a daily basis, making healthy choices.

Our spiritual vitality is no different. There is something that happens when God’s people gather than can’t happen in any other way. As good as email meditations read daily are—and I read several every day—it’s not the same as standing with my brothers and sisters to sing—join together in prayer—and be challenged by God’s word. We complain about the younger generation texting one another rather than being with each other and talking, not realizing that we might be guilty of the same isolation from one another. Now more than ever, we need to come together. We need each other.

At this point I feel the frustration of the Apostle Paul who wrote letters to the people he loved, knowing he could not be with them in person. He encouraged them to live up to their calling in Christ and live faithfully whether he was there or not. I pray the same the next two Sundays. I cannot be there, but I am asking for as many of you who can be, to be in worship 10/22 and 10/29. There are stories we need to share and God’s word we need to hear. Tracy’s message 10/22 is that our hope is carried together as a faith community. When one falters, there are brothers and sisters around to carry us. Peadar Dalton, a dear friend and colleague, will be focusing on the main thing; Loving God, our neighbor, and ourselves.

My prayers for St. Andrew and the people so deeply affected by the recent fires will continue as I travel to Berlin to meet with Mark Dodson and Russ Kane for a week of study and reflection on the life and thinking of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Then Russ and I are going on to Romania where the plan is to meet with our Sighisoara partners. We will be distributing boots and jackets, as well as getting updates on the water projects and Winter bread ministry.

This is what I found on my desk…

THE PASTOR’S BOOK CLUB: We will be reading “The Book of Forgiving”, by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu. The Book Club will meet on Sunday, November 12th at 11:30AM and Wednesday, November 15th at 7:00PM for a book discussion. Plan to have the book read before the discussion date and pick the date/time that works best for your schedule (it is not necessary to attend both discussion dates).

SEPTIC SYSTEM UPDATE: You might notice work has begun on the septic system upgrade on the West side of the church. This is going to be a big project that will extend into the spring and require a fundraising effort in February. But do not be alarmed, the system is still functioning during this phase of the project.

THE ST. ANDREW YOUTH GROUP WILL BEGIN PRE-ORDERS FOR THEIR ANNUAL WREATH SALES THIS SUNDAY! the youth group will be in the fellowship hall taking orders for Christmas wreaths, garlands and centerpieces. These greens are a great gift for everyone on your gift list and will be available for pickup on Sunday, December 3RD! All money raised will go toward their Caravan mission trip the summer of 2018 to Houston, Texas! Thank you for supporting our youth group!

OUR KIDS NEED PRAYER now more than ever!

Have you heard about the PRAYER CARD project for our St. Andrew Kids? When we first began this project October 1st, we could have never imagined the great tragedy, loss and challenges that lie ahead for our community. Our children especially have been faced with incredible burden and circumstance. They need to be showered with love and prayer and to feel God’s peace and presence in the midst of all things. Our hope is that each child will be blessed to move forward with joy and thrive in this valley. You can make a HUGE difference in their lives with a commitment to prayer on their behalf.

Prayer Cards are being created for each child, ages 0-18 every week. Each card will be carefully distributed to accountable adults at St. Andrew who commit to pray for your child(ren) for at least one year. Please mark your Communication Card and include your contact information to ensure that your child is represented. Please email favorite photos of your kids to Jess Schiller, or find the orange table between services to get set up or pick up your card. / 707-799-7237