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