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From Your Pastor





To the First Presbyterian Church family,

 

We have recently wrapped another long journey through the church seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter – which also featured multiple lectionary scripture readings each morning.  I’ve written about this many times before, along with the other and much longer season of Ordinary Time, which we are about to begin.  Please read one of my previous pastor’s columns on this.  Suffice it to say here, the point isn’t lectionary or church seasons but rather a way of focusing on the Word of God, who has sustained this church for (nearly) 205 years.


I may not have written as much about our journey through the Old Testament narrative during the Ordinary Time seasons of summer, fall, and (sometimes) January.  Here’s a quick recap of the Biblical books series we’ve done in my nine years here:


2015 – Gospel of Mark

2016 – Genesis

2017 – Romans

2018 – Exodus

2019 – Leviticus & Numbers

2020 – Deuteronomy & Joshua

2021 – Judges & Ruth

2022 – I & II Samuel

2023 – I & II Kings


We obviously had to skip a lot of material along the way and not just the genealogies (“so and so begat”) and legal matters (eating kosher, etc) but also books like I & II Chronicles, which covers much of the same ground as I & II Kings.  But whether you just started worshipping with us last year or have been a part of this church long before, the journey of God’s people through these books should teach us all about the journey of this congregation and our individual lives as disciples of Christ.  We have all found ourselves as Abraham, promised by God for bigger things yet still living as a mere traveler in life.  In Exodus the people of God struggled with external oppression, then witnessed great things in liberation, and yet still had a long journey ahead of them after that.  Joshua marked a great victory but one that was only because of God, a message in humility still worth remembering.  There are still great victories ahead of us, and we should never just stay stuck in the “good old days;” this is a message from Judges that has great significance to this church with our shrinking membership and the decline of Norristown around us.  And finally, the books of Samuel and Kings show the necessity of human leadership (e.g. congress, elders, pastors, etc) but also their inherit flaws and thus point the way to continued dependence on God.


Last fall we ended II Kings with the sad news of the people of God in exile in Babylon.  The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, a sermon series through September, will detail the big “What Now?” that God’s people faced when they returned to their land.  Some but not all of those challenges included absence of a temple, an unprotected city, and reunion with long sundered kinsmen.  I’ll confess that out of all the books I’ve covered so far, Ezra/Nehemiah and their time period might be my sparsest area of study in the Bible.  I’m not sure why, except that possibly as with this near-decade series, we are so close to the end and just want to get to the coming of Jesus.  I hope to have more to say on this in these upcoming sermons and another summer pastor’s column, but as we await the second return of Jesus, we should ask “What Now?” and how can we rebuild and rediscover our mission. 


God’s Word certainly has a lot of challenges for us! But those challenges are part of what sustains us individually and as a church.  Let us once again rise to the challenge, because whatever our circumstance, even if it’s exile, God is with us.  


Isaiah 45:13


~Rev. Peter Martin

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