Message from the Pastor

Rev. Sundar SamuelS

Dear Members and friends,

What a fascinating summer it has been thus far! Some high temperatures, good amount of rain, some wonderful days when we could sit with family and friends outside with the grill going!

The mention of grill reminds me of the foods I ate which are not usually on my menu. It was fun and the fellowship was as sweet as the fresh picked summer corn! I am excited and getting ready to see all of you in a few weeks, as we start another exciting fall church program. Our Rally Day Sunday is September 10, 2017 when our new choir director will be debuting. It will be wonderful to hear them once again and be spiritually refreshed through their weekly anthems!

REVELATION is the title of a spiritually deep novel by Peggy Payne. It is the story of the transformation of Dr. Swain Hammond, pastor of Westside Presbyterian Church. Something extraordinary occurs in Swain’s life. He hears the voice of God, not once but five times. Swain finds this a bit hard to take. When he tells his parishioners, Swain meets with mild disinterest. The congregation, undaunted by the messages that Swain tells them, does, however, take notice of his increasingly odd behavior. Swain pleads with God to speak more clearly and regularly to him so others will not think he has gone completely insane. The final message Swain receives is, “Listen with your heart.”

As he sits with Gladys Henby’s invalid mother-in-law he comes to a rational and common-sense conclusion for his life: he must leave his church, give up the ministry, and most of all, quit talking about the God who has spoken to him. On the following Sunday he announces his resignation. However Gladys Henby shows up with a message for Swain. She tells him, “You must not leave the church.” She tells him why. “You came over and sat with my mother-in-law. And now, it doesn’t seem so bad. Seems as if I can stand it. I don’t know why.” And then she speaks the gospel to her pastor. “I don’t know the Scripture like you do, Dr. Hammond, but I was raised on it. The Bible commands that we love one another. ‘By this men and women will know that you are my disciples.’ It was a very loving thing you did. I can’t just keep silent and let you go away.” And then with words that form a prayer over Swain’s life, she says, “Dr. Hammond, you are a good disciple. You mustn’t stop now.”

These words become the message that Swain needs from God. He remembers God’s last direct word to him: “Listen with your heart.” After much soul-searching, his heart tells him that he had indeed made an error and that he must ask the church to reinstate him as their minister.

Sunday approaches. Worship hour arrives. Swain preaches on the text, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He declares, “What more difficult assignment could we have than to love as Jesus did? What more difficult challenge do we have today? To find such love in our hearts is to me the most intimidating of God’s challenges.”

The impossible commandment: Drawing upon the multiplying story of the five loafs and two fishes, Swain confesses, ”When I think of loving as Jesus commanded, I am a man faced with a very large crowd and a few pieces of bread. A little is all I have.” He then related this to his desire to return as their minister. He speaks from his heart, “I want to take a few pieces of bread and make them go as far as they will. We are promised in that story of the fishes and loaves that, as we share, the little we have will go a long way.”

This unusual story reminds us to look to the Jesus who tells us a hard yet good gospel word: “Love one another as I have loved you.” How can any one of us possibly hope even to begin to love as Jesus loved? Our souls feel overwhelmed by such an insurmountable task. That is why we belong to the body of Christ, the church, to support one another.

But there stands Jesus telling us to keep on loving with God’s kind of love. He tells us this three times. It is time to listen with our hearts. Finally he puts it this way. “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” An impossible commandment to be sure. Yet, we must so love. The impossible commandment is possible when our pieces of bread are shared in love. There is always enough.

As we live our lives we all struggle for a new and fresh word from the LORD. The word that is given to us is the final Word of God in the first place - Jesus. And Jesus’ word to us is an impossible commandment. Yet it is the good word of the gospel by which we must love.

Today Jesus comes to tell us that we must not give up loving like God loves. Jesus tells us to feed the lambs, tend the sheep, share our bread, and love one another. Our hearts protest, “Lord, we have so little.” Jesus says, “Listen with your hearts. What little you have to give, give it away. Share your bread. Love as I have loved. It is enough.”.

Only as we do that can Jesus say of us, “You are good disciples, you mustn’t stop now.”

Your fellow servant of Jesus…

Pastor Sundar