Pastor’s Letter — February, 2018

Hearing the Scriptures Anew

Dear Friends,
There is few things I enjoy more than learning something new and I would like to share what I learned last week.  

Since Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 26:11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me, it has often been interpreted to say that we should do nothing about the poor, because Jesus said they will always exist.  On Thursday last week I attended a conference sponsored by the Presbytery of Boston and presented by Rev. Liz Theoharris founder of the “Poor People’s Campaign.”  She shared with the group that some people have even been angry with her in working to eliminate poverty because Jesus’ statement means that we must always have poor people. The day was spent unpacking and trying to understand what Jesus was actually saying in this passage.

The first thing we need to do is to understand where this phrase appears in the Bible.  In Matthew it is part of the story of Jesus’ anointing by a woman never named with a jar of expensive oil in Bethany just before the Last Supper.  The disciples complain that this act was too extravagant and the money should have been used for the poor.  Jesus then says the poor will always be with you.  Liz asked us to look at what comes right before this reading.  It is the story of the last judgment where Jesus condemns those who have not taken care of others in need.  She then asked us if we knew what passage out of the Old Testament to which Jesus was referring.  We then looked at Deuteronomy 15:11, Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’  (Emphasis added).  This passage is also preceded by how a society should be organized to continually help people out of poverty (read Deuteronomy 15:1-11). Clearly Jesus was admonishing the disciples by quoting from one of the strongest statements in the Bible about working to change the plight of those in need.  

I have also been greatly enjoying reading the recently published book by Amy Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, “The Jewish Annotated New Testament” for which over 50 Jewish scholars have written explanatory essays. For Christian readers The Jewish Annotated New Testament offers a window into the first-century world of Judaism from which the New Testament springs. (Oxford University Press).  I have learned much as I have read this book.  Jesus was Jewish and he knew his faith well.  Just as he drew on Deuteronomy 15:11 he draws on the scriptures of the Old Testament in almost all of his teachings.  We really cannot understand what he is telling us today without understanding what his base was then.   

To help us better understand the teacher, and Savior we love so dearly Sureshkumar and I will be offering a Bible study on “Jesus and the Old Testament” during Lent this year and we invite you to join us.  The Bible Study will be on Wednesday evenings starting February 28 through March 21 at 7:00pm.  

In Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Eric

Pastor’s Letter — November, 2017

Siyahamba – Our Commitment Campaign

Dear Friends,
What is more beautiful than an early fall morning as the warm yellow glow of the sun breaks over the horizon, bathing the sky in blue, giving life to the brightly colored leaves, and bringing beauty and wonder to a world that had lain in darkness through the long night? In the light of Christ’s love our chaotic world can also be a place of true beauty: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2) As Christians we are people who are called to bear the love and light of Jesus Christ to our broken world. Siyhamba is the song we have chosen for our commitment campaign for 2017. It comes from the Zulu Tribe in South Africa and translates: “We are marching in the Light of God.”

We will be exploring how we let our light shine out to the world and how we can do more: “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

This year we have been a light in the darkness. Every Sunday we gather to worship the Lord and listen for God’s words for us. We have a very active Sunday School that helps our young people learn about God’s love for the world.  Our Chancel choir has brought us many beautiful anthems and the Alleluia choir has consistently lifted our spirits and deepened our faith each Sunday of the year. The youth group meets on a regular basis and a group of young and older members of the church went up to Farmington, Maine to repair and rebuild houses for Mission at the Eastward (MATE). We have gathered for Bible studies throughout the year.

We are mentoring two students: Yan Wang, and Sarah Jeanne Shimer. Yan is a seminary student at Boston University who is originally from China and has committed his life to Christ and is in the process of becoming a Presbyterian minister. Sarah Jeanne is our Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) from the Presbytery of Boston. Sarah Jeanne is working with our young people helping them understand the need for all people to have access to good food and working with our Interfaith Community Garden growing food with people of the Jewish and Muslim faith for our food pantry “A Place to Turn.” With our mentoring, our former member and student Karla Dias is now the pastor of the Londonderry Presbyterian Church in NH. We have welcomed a growing Brazilian Presbyterian Congregation, Shekinah Presbyterian Church of Natick. And we have once again hosted two Alcoholics Anonymous gatherings in our church. It has been and exciting year!  

But there is more that we can do. As we head toward 2018 let us dream together about what is possible. Let us seek together new ways to be a light in the darkness. Let us hear our Advent passage from the Gospel of John about the birth of Jesus: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. We are light in a dark world.” (John 1:5) We are hope in the midst of hopelessness. We are love in a world that often has none. With Jesus lighting the path before us we can fill our world with his light and help others find the hope that is possible with faith. To be able to do this each of us needs to make a commitment of our time, talents, and treasure. When we are “marching in the light of God” we can change our lives and the world around us.

Pastor Eric

Pastor’s Letter — March, 2017

Dear Friends,
Our passages for this Sunday, February 26, include giving of the 10 Commandments in the Book of Exodus. The 10 Commandments (the basis for all ancient Hebrew law codes) were one of the first law codes used by any nation. But it isn’t the laws that I want to talk about, rather we need take a look at why we need laws to begin with.  John Calvin, on whose theology our church is founded,
had come to the conclusion that human beings were totally corrupt. When I first read Calvin in seminary I felt he was a bit overstated, however, as I have grown older I am not so sure. Of course Calvin also had a cure for this problem – the grace given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is this grace that opens our eyes to the ways in which God calls us to live.

It is the giving of the law (the 10 Commandments) to Moses on Mount Sinai that begins the process of God calling us to a new way of life. I profoundly believe that God loves us beyond all imagination and that God has placed great trust in us. God has given us this world and all that is in it and God has let us choose how we will both live in this world and how we will take care of it. Calvin felt that all wisdom could be gleaned from the Bible but only under the guidance of the grace that God gives us through God’s son, Jesus Christ.

The “Book of Order” of the Presbyterian Church, the book that guides us in God’s Mission, states:
The good news of the Gospel is that the triune God— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— creates, redeems, sustains, rules, and transforms all things and all people. This one living God, the Scriptures say, liberated the people of Israel from oppression and covenanted to be their God. By the power of the Spirit, this one living God is incarnate in Jesus Christ, who came to live in the world, die for the world, and be raised again to new life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ announces the nearness of God’s kingdom, bringing good news to all who are impoverished, sight to all who are blind, freedom to all who are oppressed, and proclaiming the Lord’s favor upon all creation.  The mission of God in Christ gives shape and substance to the life and work of the Church. In Christ, the Church participates in God’s mission for the transformation of creation and humanity by proclaiming to all people the good news of God’s love, offering to all people the grace of God at font and table, and calling all people to discipleship in Christ. Human beings have no higher goal in life than to glorify and enjoy God now and forever, living in covenant fellowship with God and participating in God’s mission.

I do believe that without God’s guidance and wisdom we will remain a broken people and a broken world. In our reading from Deuteronomy a few weeks ago we heard some of what God’s mission for our world: Share feasts with the hungry (Deut. 14:27-29); Cancel debt that the poor cannot repay (Deut. 15:1-11); Organize government to guard against excessive wealth (Deut. 17:14-20); Pay laborers promptly what they earn (Deut. 24:14-15).

In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” I believe that we are a broken people desperately in need of help – the good thing is that the help is right next to us, all around us, and even within us. Jesus Christ is only a heart beat away, ready to listen to our prayers, willing at all times to guide us and was even willing to lay his life down for us. We are so loved by our God and through God given the way to live a life of joy and meaning and be part of making this world a good place for everyone.

As we begin the Lenten Season, a time of reflection, study, and preparation for the sacrifice our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will make for us on the cross I invite all of us to join in that preparation. We will mark the beginning of Lent with our Ash Wednesday service at 7:00pm on March 1. We will then join together for a Bible Study at 7:00pm on the following Wednesdays March 8, 15, 22 and 29. We are a Gospel people putting our hope in the one eternal God whose love never ends and is always there for us.

Pastor Eric

Pastor’s Letter — February, 2017

Why is Jesus so Amazing?

Dear Friends,
Why is Jesus so Amazing? Well, Jesus is God.  However, in Christian belief it is even more
amazing than that. We believe that Jesus is fully God and fully human. We believe that Jesus is
part of our God expressed as the Trinity (three), comprised of God (the Creator), Jesus (the
Redeemer), and the Holy Spirit (the Sustainer).  We believe that at the very heart of God is
relationship. God exists in relationship the Father (creator), the Son (Redeemer), and the
Holy Spirit (Sustainer).  Our triune (three in one) God longs for strong and healthy relationships with us, and strong and healthy relationships between us. I believe that it was this deep longing that moved God to send Jesus into our world. But Jesus did not come as solely God safe from any dangers (for nothing is capable of hurting God). Jesus came as fully human and fully divine as vulnerable as we are to each other and all parts of this world. I find it remarkable that God would so completely seek a relationship with us! That alone makes Jesus amazing.

What Jesus’ taught was also amazing and awesome. In our lectionary cycle we are about to begin Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” Matthew 5:1-7:28. Here Jesus shares with those who have chosen to follow him: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This is one of
the most daring requests in scripture or anywhere else and as Martin Luther King said “hate cannot
drive out hate only love can do that”.

In Matthew 6:19 Jesus shares with those who have come to learn: “Do not store up for
yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and
steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume.
and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be
also.” Again in 6:34 Jesus advises the crowd and us: “So do not worry about tomorrow, for
tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Great advise for all
of us who love to worry! In Matthew 7:1 Jesus teaches: ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be
judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the
measure you get. What we put into life is what we will get out of life!

Jesus welcomed the people with leprosy, he ate dinner with prostitutes, and he cared about those
who others rejected! He loved all, and sought out everyone no matter who they were. The Bible
tells us that while Jesus was on earth the kingdom of God was near and Jesus was curing every
disease and sickness among the people. Through the love that Jesus lived, taught and for which he laid down his life the world can be healed!

And at the “Last Judgment of the Nations” Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that salvation comes from caring for others: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Jesus had profound care for those who are left out of society. I believe that our world becomes a healthy place when the kingdom of God comes near and that happens as we open the door for Jesus to come into our lives. The love that Jesus has for us is so great that he laid his life down for us as he was placed on the cross. But Christ’s love will not die, for God raised him from the dead and through Christ all people are welcomed into paradise. Jesus calls us into a strong relationship with him and through that, good relationships with our world. Sometimes I wonder if the leadership of our nation and our world has any idea what will heal this world. Truly the love of Jesus Christ, undying, and seeking all people is where our healing and the healing of our world can begin. Jesus is amazing and the more you learn, the more amazing he is!

Pastor Eric

Pastor’s Letter — January, 2017

Dear Friends,
We have come to the end of another year. They seem to go by so fast that I can hardly remember
what year we are in. The best part of this time of year for our family is gathering to celebrate. And
the best part of gathering is that our daughters come home, if only for a few days. Christmas was
a mad house, as I am sure it was for many of us.

We opened presents between church services, had whole family celebrations, and called those
across the United States who couldn’t be with us.

On Monday after Christmas we went to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA to see an
exhibition on shoes. Though I had my doubts about the show, it was quite interesting to see
the many ways people have expressed their individual nature through their footwear. Those
who had come to see the show were also quite diverse. There were people of all colors, quite a
few languages, tall people, short people, different sexual orientations, some in wheel chairs, and
some mentally challenged, but it seemed that there was no judgment toward the many
different types of people who had come to see the show.  In a time when we seem heading toward greater judgment of those who are different, it was nice to see a place where that was not the case. I
have never shared with the congregation that I have a sister who is gay. It is not who she chose
to be, but the way she was created. She is wonderful, and slowly, but surely our family has
learned to love her for who she is. She has been with her partner longer than anyone else in our
family and is perhaps one of most dedicated persons I know to see this be a better world. I
love her very much and always hope that others will not judge her.

Why do I share this story with you? Because she is of course part of who I am as well. I love her
and find it very difficult when people speak negatively of people like her. Our world is filled with so many different kinds of people. People of all colors, people who are differently gifted physically and mentally, people who speak different languages, people who are drug addicted, and people who are “normal.” But what does normal mean? It depends on where you are and who you are. When I lived in my village in Sierra Leone I was the odd one. I can remember walking into villages where the children had never seen a white person before and one of the children told me that he felt sorry for me for having been born so ugly. Here my skin color is considered normal there it was strange. Luckily I was not judged for the way I was born. I am hoping with the New Year we can find it in our hearts to embrace and celebrate the many different and wonderful ways that God has created us.

In Christ’s Peace,
Your Pastor

Pastor’s Letter — December, 2016

Dear Friends,
As we begin one of the most sacred times in the life of our faith let us look at the challenges the Child from heaven calls us to live by.  And though It is easy to decide that personal piety is all that we need to worry about as Christians, our faith calls us to much greater places.  This Child from heaven calls us to live our lives with each other with compassion and mercy, love and respect, no matter the person.

In the story of the Good Samaritan a lawyer asks Jesus what he can do to inherit eternal life. It seems that the lawyer is hoping for a simple answer such as give some money to the poor, or live an upright life, or go to Temple every week, and give the appropriate amount and you will go to heaven. But Jesus expects far more out of each of us.  Jesus knows that God's covenant promises eternal life for the Jews, and for Christians we are promised eternal life through him.  His concern for the lawyer and all of us is how we live our lives in relationship with each other.

With that thought in mind Jesus asks the man, "How does the law read?" (the first five books of the Bible). The lawyer responds "to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."  And Jesus answers him " this and you will live."  Notice here he says live and not inherit eternal life.  The lawyer is not satisfied with the answer and asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" Which is a polite way of asking, “Who is not my neighbor?” or “Who does not deserve my love?” or “Whose lack of food or shelter can I ignore?” or “Whom I can hate?”

And it is here that we get the parable we call the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37.  I think most of us know the parable, but here is a quick reminder.  A man is beaten nearly to death as he is traveling between Jericho and Jerusalem.  A priest and Levite (both people of faith) see the man beaten nearly to death and, like many of us, take the route of convenience and go around the man. It is only when the man from Samaria (the Good Samaritan) sees the beaten man that he gets help.

Jews and Samaritans did not like each other and those listening to Jesus would have heard something like the "good radical Muslim terrorist" instead of the Good Samaritan.  However, it is this character, who Jesus' listeners would call despicable, who goes out of his way to help. He spares no expense and lavishes both short term and long term care on the person in need. At the end of the story, Jesus does not answer the question "who is my neighbor;" instead he asks the lawyer, "Who was the the neighbor to the man in need?" The lawyer asked Jesus, "What select few deserve my love?" Jesus answers, “Everyone deserves that love—local or alien, Jews or gentile, terrorist or rapist, everyone." (from "Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi" by Amy Levine.)

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commented on this parable: the question that the priest and the Levite asked was, If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ . . . But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’

"For the lawyer, and for Luke’s readers, the Samaritan does what God does. The divine is manifested only through our actions. “Go,” Jesus says, “and you do likewise.” To speak of loving God and loving neighbor does not require theological precision.... Loving God and loving neighbor cannot exist in the abstract; they need to be enacted." (from "Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi" by Amy-Jill Levine.)

In this time that we as a nation seem to be asking, "Who deserves our love and who can we ignore, or not help, or even hate?" we need to remember these words of the one whose birth we will soon be celebrating.  Jesus went so far as to say, "love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."  He commanded us to love each other as God first loved us, and by this love others would know that we are his disciples. Jesus asks us to not only believe what Jesus taught us, but to live those words everyday of our lives.  Because God first loved us we can and must love all those around us.

In the peace of the Child born in a stable on a cold winter's night.
Pastor Eric

Pastor’s Letter — November, 2016

The Seasons Come and the Seasons Go

Fall is quickly coming to an end and the cold of winter is not far behind. All of creation, is born, grows and eventually dies. Life like all other things is limited.

Psalm 90 speaks eloquently:
For a thousand years in your
sight are like yesterday when it is
past or like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away; they are
like a dream, like grass that is
renewed in the morning; in the
morning it flourishes and is
renewed; in the evening it fades
and withers.

My mother and father raised me and then they were no more and the same will happen for each of us. Our universe, world, and lives are caught in a never-ending cycle. Across millions of years, star spring up and burn out, and a new star ignites and takes the place of the one gone. Our lives are spelled out by generations rising up and dying. Our new community garden started this spring from seeds, grew to beautiful plants, came to fruition, and then as the cold weather came it was gone.

Psalm 103 tells us:
As for mortals, their days are like
grass; they flourish like a flower
of the field; for the wind passes
over it, and it is gone, and its
place knows it no more.

We are limited. We have but a mere handful of days. There is no permanence in our world. However, God stands outside of creation. God stands outside of time. God was, is, and always will be.

Before the mountains were
brought forth, or ever you had
formed the earth and the
world, from everlasting to
everlasting you are God.

We are mortal and God is infinite. The infinite chose to enter the finite with the birth of
God’s only son. Who was born, lived, and died, among us and it was with this sacrifice
that God changed all that is. We who are finite can be part of that which is infinite.

Psalm 90 assures us:
Lord, you have been our dwelling-place in all generations.

As we enter into the cold months of winter let us remember that this is a very special time of
the year. As the snow blankets the ground around us and the leaves fall off the trees, it is a time of newness and possibility for we are moving toward Advent and the time of preparation when God chose to break into our world and like the spring make all things new. As we prepare for this very special season let listen more carefully to God’s calling for our lives. Let us celebrate what God has done for us in the birth of the one who brings the forgiveness of sins and a depth of love for every human being. Let us be guided by the light of joy and love that can only come from that, which is truly eternal. This is the time to prepare for great rejoicing!

Pastor Eric

Pastor’s Letter — October, 2016

Dear Friends,
There are so many things going on at Hartford Street Presbyterian Church these days.  Our last spring’s confirmation class of 4 young people attended class for 8 months culminating in participating in a stunning movement piece during the Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance) service at Temple Israel.  Our Youth Group met throughout the year and participated in the “30 Hour Famine” raising nearly $1,000.00 for hunger in our neighborhood and across the world. 

We had the large contingent of church members participate in the Mission At The Eastward (MATE) housing project this year with 27 members and friends repairing 3 different homes.  Karen Olen and Bryan Takasaki were our chefs for the week and the food was delicious.

One again the church participated in Natick Days and our booth had over 100 visitors.  Those who came by learned about our Sunday school, Church activities, the community garden, and interfaith garden.  The Youth Group also hosted a fundraiser for the water project in Batibo, Cameroon raising $126.00.  It was a hot, but successful day.

This year the community garden was finally opened and vegetables grew in great numbers.  We formed an interfaith garden group that included members from the Christian faith, the Jewish faith, and the Muslim faith.  The interfaith garden group planted 4 of the raised beds and harvested over 300 lbs of tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, egg plants, basil, butternut squash, and green and Italian peppers, which were donated to “A Place to Turn.”

And of course in the midst of all these events the church kept up all its regular activities.

The knitting group provided a place for a group of women in the church to meet, socialize, and knit warm items for people who otherwise would be cold.  Sadly the group lost one of their long time members with Nan Gray at 102 passed away last month.

All the choirs of the church, Chancel, Alleluia, our Trio and sometimes Quartet sang at special services, as did our Youth and Junior Choirs. 

Sadly, we also lost another member of the church last month as well – Lucy Asangong.  Lucy had bravely fought cancer for 9 years.  She had seen her children beautifully grow into adulthood.  We will miss Lucy and her gracious ways.  The funeral will by on October 1 at the Plymouth Congregational Church, 582 Pleasant St, Belmont, MA 02478.  The viewing will be from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, and the service will be from 4:00 – 6:00 pm with reception to follow in the same location.  Please keep the family in your prayers.

Pastor Eric

Pastor’s Letter — August & September, 2016

Dear Friends,
The book of James in the Bible tells us in 2:14-17: What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But I also believe that works without faith is dead as well. When we place our faith in Christ as the Bible in 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us: This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! In faith we are called to a new way of life. Jesus’ teaches us to reach out to all in need. The story of the Good Samaritan is profound in the way in which Jesus calls the lawyer (and us as well) with whom he is speaking to live a life of compassion to anyone in need.

The way that Jesus chooses not to judge Mark 7:25-30, but rather be compassionate to the Syrophoenician woman who of a different faith should be an example to us as well. And Jesus teaches us in Luke 10:27 that the most important law of the Bible is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Clearly works grow out of a strong faith. As a church we are the body of Christ on earth today. The way we choose to live our lives speaks loudly of our faith.

Over 22 members of our congregation are preparing to head to Maine for our mission trip through M.A.T.E.’s (Mission At The Eastward) Housing Ministry in Farmington Maine. Over the next week they will repair houses, paint steps, clean basements, have time together, take time for devotionals, and get to know new people. Their service motivated by their faith will be a powerful witness of God’s love for our world. Perhaps our world needs this kind of witness more than ever before. The news of our world can be dreadful with things happening in communities here in America and across the world that can bring tears to one’s eyes. We can’t all go to Maine to do mission
projects, but we can all live our lives in the love of Jesus Christ. We can reach out to our neighbors; we can help out someone in need, or simply give a friendly word of support to those around us. This week I would ask that you keep all those who are headed to Maine in your prayers!

God bless, and thank you!
Pastor Eric

Pastor's Letter - June July 2016

Dear Friends,
Our Bible study over the last month has been about the Holy Spirit. We often talk about God the
Creator/Father, and Jesus the Son/Redeemer, but how often do we think about the Holy Spirit? It can seem
like such an odd idea. I have had more than one person ask me, “Why do we even need the Holy
Spirit?” In chapter 15 of the Gospel of John, as Jesus prepares the disciples for his departure, he says to
them: “it is to your advantage that I go away.” I am sure the disciples did not see Jesus going away as a
good thing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus were still among us? That we could go directly to him, to ask
questions, to seek wisdom, to listen to him talk about our world and what we need to do to find meaning?

Can you imagine the crowds that would show up to simply touch the hem of his garment, to listen to his
wisdom, to be healed? In Jesus’ day the crowds were often so crushing that there were times that he simply
had to leave. Today it would be far worse. Even the largest stadium in the world, open continuously, could
not hold the number of people that would come.  There would be no chance to have an intimate
relationship with Jesus as the disciples did when their numbers were so small.

After his death and resurrection Jesus knew that each disciple would need to go out on his or her own. His
Word would need to be brought to the very edges of the world. One physical person could not accompany
all of them – and Jesus knew the faith would grow.  There would be hundreds, and then thousands, and
eventually even millions of disciples bringing the Word of Christ to all corners of the earth. There had to be a
way for all disciples to access Christ’s wisdom and strength. Jesus knew that would come to everyone
who sought it through the Holy Spirit.

Often today we lose sight of how important the Holy Spirit is in our spiritual lives. I have heard the Holy
Spirit compared to a modern day GPS, which we use in our cars to guide us to places. It is a pretty good
comparison, but the Holy Spirit is so much more. With a GPS you need to enter an address if it is to take you
there. In real life we are not even sure of our destination. We don’t know what roads to take and we
don’t know where we are going. God knows where we are meant to be. And with the help of the Holy Spirit
we can get there.

The disciples had the opportunity to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. We too have the same
opportunity, but as Christians we believe that opportunity comes through the Holy Spirit. When
Jesus walked out dusty roads, taught us, healed us, and went to the cross to show the depth of love God has
for every human being – though many had an opportunity to see him, the numbers were truly
limited. Today with the Holy Spirit there is no limit to what we can learn, and where we can go.

As a Christian community we also believe that we seek the direction of the Holy Spirit together. St. Paul
taught that we must always live as community seeking God’s Word together with mutual respect and love of
all members of the community. Let us all join together to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that we may find our true destination in a world filled with dead ends, and lack of hope. Through the love of God, the
grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the ever present nature of the Holy Spirit let us forge our way
through what often feels like a wilderness to the promises of peace and meaning given to every person
in the world.


Pastor Eric