Elder Suzanne Geiger and I are attending the “Covenanting Conference” of the Fellowship of Presbyterians in Orlando, Florida. The conference began tonight, Jan. 18 and will conclude Friday night. I’ll try to give updates several times each day.
Tonight’s gathering focused on one thing – worship. The service was in the Taizé style, with beautiful contemplative singing and prayers.
The sermon was given by the Rev. Hope Lee who gave us a tour of Nehemiah 1, with some very pointed applications for our churches and ourselves. She started by asking what difference it would make in our communities if our church disappeared tomorrow. Would anyone other than the congregation notice – or care? If so, then why are there so many empty parking places and seats in our churches on Sunday mornings, while the line at Starbucks stretches around the corner?
Pointing to Nehemiah, she challenged us to allow our hearts to be broken for our communities. Confess the many ways we have failed to actively live and speak the gospel to a lost and hurting world. Weep, rather than casting blame on the denomination, or society, for our failure to engage our neighborhoods with the gospel. Repent – which means to change our ways. Then, GET ON WITH IT! ”Property can be repaired or replaced… But people are irreplaceable in the eyes of God.”
One scripture that was read really captured my heart.
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
Please pray for all here that we may be faithful to God as we seek a new way forward as brothers and sisters in Christ.
-Pastor Jeff Wildrick