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A Church in the Park

June 2020

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!  Psalm 115:1

These COVID days have created an appetite for worship that seems wholly unlike other “growth” seasons of my life.  I marvel that amid this topsy-turvy season, when my footing is off-balance and shifted, when face-face relationship moments are scarce, exactly why it is that I feel closer to God and closer to His chosen?  Increasingly, it seems as if I am climbing toward a spiritual summit with panoramic vistas instead of traversing towards the valley I expected.  None of this makes any sense to me in midst of a global pandemic. Yet, God reminds me: My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  

I have spoken to many of you in recent weeks and told of my belief that our congregation is growing stronger in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, even during these days that none of anticipated, none of us chose.  I have been encouraged by your testimonies of being drawn closer to Him in prayer and study, your prayer on Saturday mornings, your proclamations of truth on Sunday mornings, and our spoken longing to be together again.  We follow in the footsteps of our forefathers and foremothers who were strengthened by God, for God, during past times of unexpected challenge and sharpening, refining as the Bible speaks.  The Scriptures are filled with such accounts.  

I recall one of my favorites that comes from Zechariah 13:8, “And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’

What a promise of Scripture.  As one of your pastors, I pray that Dan and I might lead a people of which it may be said, They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’  There is no higher vision for us.

Yet, to gain the fuller picture of this promise, and how transformative it is for the people of God, we look to the context of Zechariah 12 and 13.  Zechariah 12 ends with Israel’s return to the Lord through the once rejected and murdered, but now embraced, Messiah.  Flowing from their embrace of the Messiah, Christ Jesus, they would enjoy an ever-flowing fountain of cleansing for sin and uncleanness.  As some have commented, this is not simply a fountain opened, but a fountain that remains open for us, bubbling forth for all time sake for His people.

I have been refreshed in my faith during these days with a realization that this too is my position before a Holy God.  The fountain bubbles forth for me, and you, in June 2020.  Oh, how I long to be with you soon, singing in one accord, words written by William Cowper in 1772, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”   Jesus’ fountain shall never run dry.  And we are cleansed!

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory.

Pastor Jeff