I’m still trying to figure out the best way to use this blog on our church’s website. I hope to post articles from time to time as I’ve done in the past. But I also would like to include other content, specifically information that may be helpful both to church members and to those just visiting our website. So I’ll try something new, a (more or less) weekly post with a variety of content – service information, personal reflections, notes on books and articles I’ve read, upcoming events, prayer requests, and so on.
Lacking a better title, I’ll call this “From the Pastor’s Study”. Though “study” is a flexible concept – tonight it is my desk at home; next time it could be the actual church office, or even a local coffee shop. I work and study in all these places. So here goes…
Last week I took some vacation time for the Thanksgiving holiday since my parents came from out of state to visit our family. In my place Rev. Dale Clark, a minister in the Reformed Church in the U.S., filled the pulpit at the morning service. I appreciate Rev. Clark’s service to our church in this way. Plus I benefit from a break from preaching, and I think the congregation also profits from hearing a different voice from time to time.
Our family worshiped at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Anchorage. Rev. John Jones brought a very edifying and thoughtful message from Colossians 1:15-17, on the preeminence of Christ. What a glorious truth that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (1:15)!
Here is a picture that shows a glimpse of what Thanksgiving is like in our house. Every year our family writes on small pumpkins the things for which we are thankful. Sometimes they are serious – “friends”, and sometimes not so – “bacon”. Next to the pumpkins are some cute little turkeys stuffed with Reece’s Pieces.
With Advent season upon us, for the morning services we’ll take a break from our study of the book of Exodus. Instead I’ll preach sermons centered on the incarnation of Christ. A few weeks ago at the evening service we started looking at the Heidelberg Catechism, a theologically robust summary of the Christian faith that speaks both to the heart and to the mind. This Sunday we’ll cover the questions and answers for Lord’s Day 2.
Last week I finished reading Ronald Bainton’s classic biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand. I enjoyed every page, admiring the insight, courage, and prodigious output of this first Reformer. Bainton superbly narrates the stirring events of the early Reformation, explains Luther’s theology, and – most satisfying of all – vividly portrays the personality and character of the troubled monk whose quest to be made right with God turned the world upside down. The next time I’m asked what 5 historical figures I’d invite to dinner, Luther will be near the top. I am hoping to read much more on the Reformation in 2017, as my own personal celebration of the 500-year anniversary of its genesis.
Our church family has been in prayer for a dear long-time member of the congregation who appears to be nearing the end of his earthly pilgrimage. This afternoon we sang in his room the hymn He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought! The fourth stanza reads:
And when my task on earth is done,
when, by thy grace, the victory’s won,
e’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
since God through Jordan leadeth me.
As Christians our comfort in this brief life is that in all things, even in death, we are led by a faithful Savior who loved us and gave his life for us. Or, as the Heidelberg Catechism reminds us, our “only comfort in life and death” is “That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”
Soli Deo Gloria!