Yesterday, Palm Sunday, was a particularly rich day of worship at All Saints. Gathering outside under a beautiful sky, joyously processing as a church, marking the shift to the sobriety of Holy Week, the profound reading of the entire passion narrative from Matthew, the enthusiastic singing – it was a great time worshipping the Lord. I also particularly enjoyed the opportunity to explore the texts from Isaiah 50 and Philippians 2, reflecting on why Christ was able to move “with his face like flint” into the pain and suffering of the events that followed the Triumphal Entry. He walked this path because of obedience, trust and love. He obeyed the will of the Father, which led him to the cross, because he was sustained by deep trust in the Father. His love for us was so great that he became a bondservant on our behalf, bearing the eternal scars of his commitment to serve us.
Christ’s obedience, trust and love stirs up worship and awe. It also calls me to follow suit in my own life.
As a preacher, I’m always searching for relevant examples and applications for the points I make in messages. After the service, I received an email from one of the people helping plant the new church in Chatham County. My call to follow the example of Jesus, “obeying the clear voice of the Lord as we walk into the dark” (Isaiah 50:10), trusting God to vindicate us and protect us (believing that the Lord has our back), spoke to her powerfully as she contemplates the risk of planting a new church.
I am so thankful for the email – and thankful for the reminder of a terrific illustration of obedience, trust and love that leads to radical risk and sacrifice.
There is a strong sense that God is calling a vibrant, theologically sound Anglican church into existence to proclaim Christ and serve people in Chatham County. But as clearly as the Lord seems to be speaking, it is definitely a walk of faith into the unknown. Everyone involved, especially David & Martha Hyman, is being called to great trust in God. Planting this church will require significant sacrifice – sacrifice appropriate to a bondservant “who bears the life-long scars of love.” The people forming Holy Trinity-Chatham are binding themselves in love to their community.
There is a risk of obedience for All Saints as well. The math doesn’t work out to plant a church this early in our life. Losing such dear people who have invested their lives in our church and served so profoundly is hard. These are not sideliners in the life of All Saints, and we’re certainly going to feel it!
But together – All Saints and Holy Trinity – recognize the hand of God and hear the voice of God. We walk into risk, as bondservants for the sake of those who do not yet know him.
I am praying already that God will bring many new people to faith in both places, that this birth will spawn a wave of births – of people coming to faith and growing as eager followers of Jesus.
Pray with our staff, vestry, the folks from Chatham, and me, that we will see the fruit of faith and obedience in many, many ways in the lives of people in our neighboring communities.
-Rev. Steve Breedlove
(read the continuation of this post here)