It’s been a difficult week for our First Church family. After her long battle with leukemia and complications from a bone marrow transplant, we lost Rebecca Wiley last Friday. She faithfully served this church as Financial Secretary for over 21 years. The large turnout as we celebrated her life on Thursday was a testament to what she meant to this church and its people over the years. She was always patient, kind, and cheerful and treated everyone with respect. It has been hard saying goodbye, and we will miss her terribly.
We’re saying goodbye to a former staff members as well. Bill Rinehart has continued as an active member of First Church since retiring several years ago from many years as church host. Bill is moving to Salisbury to be near his family. He had planned to be with us Sunday to say goodbye, but, because of health issues this week, may not be able to make it. Bill, thanks for all those great meals and for your great friendship! We will miss you and wish you all the best!
Saying goodbyes is hard. And there have been lots of other illnesses, hospitalizations, and family deaths in our church family in recent days. As a church family, remember in your prayers the individuals and families who are suffering illness, loss, and personal tragedy. If you’re like me, you can use some comforting words about now. These from Isaiah 43 come to mind:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
This Sunday we will return to Mark’s Gospel (and each week now until Easter we’ll hear from Mark). I encourage you to read the first 20 verses of Mark’s first chapter before Sunday. Note Mark’s brevity, his use of the word “immediately,” (his favorite word, I think!), his rapid movement from one scene to the next. I think you’ll see why the sermon title this week is “A Compelling Urgency.”
And just for fun, you might read Jonah before Sunday, too. It’s just 4 short chapters. Read it looking for humor, because it was meant to be humorous. Yes, there is humor in the Bible! That doesn’t mean there is no powerful message—indeed there is! I remember master preacher and teacher Fred Craddock once saying, “Some things are so important you must laugh about them.” We’ll see on Sunday if the two stories might have some overlap.
Sometimes when we consider the suffering and tragedies of our friends close by and those of the larger world, we feel helpless…maybe even hopeless at times. As the people of God, we are called away from fear…we are called to hope…we are called to faithfulness in our own lives, that we, with God’s help, might make some difference in the world. Let’s come to worship Sunday with a sense of urgency for our world, that we might be fed and filled by the presence of Christ, so that we might go back into the world strengthened, encouraged, and empowered to live our lives for Christ each and every day.
See you Sunday—with a sense of urgency!