…and thanks to all of you for your prayers and support as Terri and I spent our two months away in Scotland. It was a great trip. We experienced beautiful scenery, centuries of history (castle upon castle upon castle), tremendous art, interesting people, good local music, and the presence of the Lord. Not a bad trip you might say!
On the pastoral front it is always risky turning the preaching and teaching over to a person you have only met by e-mail. Four things made me feel comfortable in inviting Rev. Stevenson to do this exchange: The doctrinal similarities of the Reformed Faith in our denomination and the Church of Scotland; The newsletter of the Dunbar Parish Church that reflected their activity, Christ-centeredness, Biblical orientation, and dynamic; The level of comfort knowing Pastor Ben would be present, leading the congregation in my absence (true to form, Ben did a great job); the sovereignty of God. I firmly believe that when God is in charge great things will happen.
And what did Terri and I learn from the people of Dunbar Parish Church which we served?
1. People rich in faith. The people we met loved God and loved their neighbors.
2. People of prayer. Whether in homes or before services at the church we shared in a number of wonderful times of prayer.
3. People who are the history of the church. I became very aware of the reality ministers come and go, but, God’s people carry God’s work forward.
4. Hospitality is a spiritual gift and when lived can make people feel at home regardless of the differences.
5. We grow in many ways when we are will to take a risk, branch out of our comfort zone and try something different.
Did we see areas where there might be room to grow? Absolutely…just like at PCJH. When we stop growing we start dying. When we stop seeing the needs around us we stop being involved in our community. When we stop wanting to reach out and touch one another and care for our neighbor we stop loving. There is always a new generation to reach with the good news of the gospel. As some people say, “The best is yet to come.”
Once again, thank you for allow this exchange to take place.
When Terri and I returned from Scotland, in addition to all the adjustments of time, scenery, temperature, I felt the change in season. I have come to expect that change beginning those early mornings of Teton County Fair. The air is just a little bit more crisp and the darkness of the evening comes just a bit earlier with each passing day. The change signals that slow progression from summer to winter, the season we call Fall. It is an exciting time filled with lots of color but always transition.
As this Fall begins we are going to see some wonderful changes at PCJH. New children will arrive in our Little Lambs Pre-school. We will hear new music from our choir. Ben and I will be preaching textually as well as topically from the Book of Romans through the Fall and Winter. We will receive new members into the life of the church.
Maybe the biggest change will be in the ministry that our newest staff member, Ricky Emerlyn will bring to us. Ricky, Jody and the kids come to us from 13 years of ministry with “Youth With A Mission” (YWAM) where they have led missions in 50+ countries around the world and helped people deepen their walk with the Lord. As Director of Discipleship for Children Youth and Families we are opening the door for Ricky to do that in our congregation. Ricky has a heart to see people grow to know and follow Jesus. As part of the staff team we are asking him to assist us all in the deepening of our faith as well. What a great school year awaits us as we Gather, Grow, and Go.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.