Pastor's Blog
June 26, 2015, 7:33 AM

The Great Ends of the Church

What images come to mind when you hear the word “church”? Maybe you think of sermons and hymns that spiritually nourished you throughout your faith-life.  Perhaps you think of intelligent discussions you had in Sunday school about how a Bible text applies to your life?  You might remember potlucks you used to go to with your family after church when you were young.  The Church of Jesus Christ means a lot to me.  My pastor in Susquehanna lead me to faith in Jesus Christ.   The church is the place where my wife and I were married.  The church is the place where Charlotte and Lydia took their first steps! 

Church can mean different things to different people.  In our denomination, that’s something we encourage.  There are PCUSA churches with radically different worship styles and preaching styles.  Yet, with all the differences in church life and worship style, I think it’s important to step back and ask  some questions:

  • What is essential to the church?
  • How does God want to use our particular church?
  • What needs in our community is God calling us to meet?

To answer these important questions, I like to go to The Great Ends of the Church. 

The great ends of the church are:

  • The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind
  • The shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God
  • The maintenance of divine worship
  • The preservation of the truth
  • The promotion of social righteousness
  • The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world

Over the first few weeks I’m with  First Presbyterian Church of Montrose, we’re going to be exploring The Great Ends of Church.   I hope it will be an opportunity to explore the ministry we’re doing together and feel a sense of renewed call to the faith that God has built in us in Jesus Christ.  

My family and I are excited about our new ministry together, and we hope you are too!  We’ll see you next week!




May 23, 2015, 8:33 PM

Transitions

Life is full of so many transitions.  I’ve seen quite a few, just in the last few years of my life!  In the last ten years, I graduated from high school, college, and graduate school.  My wife and I were married.  We now have two beautiful children.  And now, my family and I are transitioning into our new period of life in Montrose Pennsylvania. 

My wife and I are excited to see how God will have us live into his ministry in Montrose.  We'll be moving to Montrose during the week of June 29th, and beginning ministry there soon after.  We’re excited because we have already met so many spirit-filled children of God.  We are excited because of the energy that we can sense in the congregation to do new things for the kingdom of God.  We are excited because we feel that God is calling us to live and serve amongst the people of Susquehanna County, and we know that God is already giving us a deep love for First Presbyterian Church of Montrose. 

In many ways, God has had this time prepared for us for a while.  Isn’t it funny to look back in life and see all the ways that God has been working?  There are ways that we have seen God drawing us and leading us to Montrose.  FPCM supported my wife and I while I was in seminary.  Lackawanna Presbytery was the Presbytery through which I was ordained.  God is always speaking; if we’re willing to listen.

I think that, in many ways, transitions in life are one of the ways that God reveals how the miracle of the resurrection is embedded in creation.  You know about the resurrection, right?  Scripture tells us that Jesus' life was taken from him, yet three days later he rose again to new life.  The resurrection is what fills the Gospel with hope… it lets us know that no matter what happens, God is there with us.  The resurrection reminds us that there is always hope.  To me, life transitions are the end of one life and the beginning of another; a chance at resurrection.

Right now, we’re in the process of ending a wonderful time of ministry in Lavonia, Georgia.  My wife and I have been here for the last four years.  Both of our children were born here.  The people of Lavonia have blessed us tremendously, and we have come to love them deeply.  The fact is, leaving a place where you have been called by God to serve can sometimes be hard… it’s hard leaving the people who you care about so deeply.  You feel concern for those you will leave behind.  In many ways, it feels like a death.

But, in so many ways, I can see God’s spirit of resurrection at work.  My first years in ministry shaped me into the person that I am today… I’m quite a different pastor than I was four years ago!  I think I’ve learned quite a bit about my relationship with God, my relationship with my family, and my relationship with the Church.  I have explored and developed my preaching, I gained much more experience in pastoral care, and I can even do some administration!   It reminds me of the verse that says “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation… the old is gone, behold, the new has come!”  When we’re “in” Christ, when we’re in communion with the Holy Spirit, God is always helping us to grow and to change and to mature.  It’s a constant, continual death and resurrection as we’re formed into the people that God created us to be.

At the end of my first mission trip, I was the last one to leave, and my mentor, Sam, and I rode to the bus stop to drop off my friend Chad.  As we drove away, he said to me, Jason… it’s hard because it’s not supposed to be like this.  It’s hard because we’re not supposed to leave one another… but that’s what we do.  But therein lies the ultimate hope of the resurrection.  By hoping in God, we have an ultimate hope.  We hope, and we trust, that God has something better in store for us.  We trust that death has been defeated.  We believe that we will throw off the shackles of this world and that we will experience new, full, real, life everlasting. 

Right now, I would like to ask for prayer.  My wife and I are in a time of transition.   My prayer is that God would give us the best transition out of Lavonia and into our new home in Montrose.  My prayer is that God would be with us in the commencement of our new ministry together, and together we would all grow more and more into the reality of the resurrection of Christ each and every day.