Pastoral Announcements and Reflection
Some announcements and a reflection from the Pastor..
1. Happy Mother’s Day! For 20 years on this Sunday, the men of our congregation have prepared a meal so that following worship we could gather as a family in Christ to give thanks to the women of our congregation for their loving witness among us and in the world. While currently unable to gather, we again thank the ladies in our lives for all the ways you have been instruments of God’s protective, directive, and embracive love for us. While many of our traditional expressions of gratitude for our “moms” are limited due to Covid-19, make no mistake, we thank God for you! We are further aware of the increased responsibilities many of you have taken on during this time in which our homes have become shelter, school, workplace, restaurant, hospital, and refuge all in one. God’s children are blessed to be in your hands and you are in our prayers.
2. Each week at 7pm on Thursday, we will be hosting a “Zoom” bible study. Several of us were able to join last week to be blessed in conversation and study around God’s Word. A couple were unable to get all working as they might but we will continue to try to word out the kinks. If you are interested, an email with an invitation to join us will be sent out to you on Wednesday. If you were not a part of last week’s email and would like to join, just let me know via email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. We are studying Paul’s letter to Philippians, which was written to encourage Christians at Philippi to remain steadfast in Christ during a time in which Paul was unable to return in person due to house arrest. (sound like a situation similar to our own?) Join us as we catch up and encourage one another in God’s Word.
3. This Sunday’s service and sermon will be available Sunday morning. We will continue to reflect on the Lord’s Prayer utilizing the petition “Thy Kingdom Come.” The attachments will continue to be provided via email, facebook and the website. <www.zlcboalsburg.org>
The Lord’s Prayer: Reflection #5 “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
Prior to our direct examination of the petition for today, let me speak briefly on Mother’s Day observances. Just as this petition calls us to “hallow” God’s name, Mother’s Day uplifts and honors the title and role of our “moms”. I was blessed in life with a mother whose demonstration of love was a reflection of God’s love. Mom was not perfect- none of us are, but she demonstrated a consistency and depth of care for her children (extending to her children gained through her years as a preschool teacher and grandmother) that was a true blessing. There were many ways in which my mom suffered, especially physically with illnesses like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, allergy induced asma, and eventually the cancer that took her from us, yet she never let these afflictions affect her capacity to serve and help.
As Mom’s cancer advanced and her needs surpassed Dad’s capacity to be the sole caregiver, she moved into my family’s home in State College so that we could better care for her as she had so long cared for me. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity we had to serve and provide for her during those weeks of treatment. I will also forever remember the awful day when the visiting nurse called to confirm by blood test what her physical exam had indicated: that the cancer had advanced to vital organs and her time with us was drawing very short. I also remember having to tell this wonderful woman who nurtured me into being that her body was shutting down and her time with us was quickly drawing to a close. Among the tears, embraces, words of love and plans that were expressed, I was emotionally overcome with a need to explain to her the gift and influence she had been in my life. My sentiment was that her demonstration of loving care in my life was the closest worldly embodiment of God’s love that I had or could ever hope to have experienced. Furthermore, whatever positive expressions of parental love that I would share with my children as their father would be derivatives of the example and inspiration I would forever draw from her. I tearfully thanked her and hoped that my present words and future actions would aptly honor her.
You may be wondering… Why do I share this incredibly intimate and personal time with my mom? What does this have to do with the petition of the Lord’s prayer “Hallowed be Thy Name”? I share this memory because all of its intimacy and earnestness embodies just a degree of what we intend when we say “Hallowed be Thy name.” Hallowed fundamentally means “to set apart.” In my heartfelt gratitude and praise I yearned to express to my mother how “set apart” her loving influence was in my life. In this petition we express to our Heavenly Parent a gratitude and praise that exceeds even the most ideal of our worldly relationships. By whose more perfect and loving care could we ever be blessed? Our Heavenly Father’s love, truth and grace have been demonstrated in every dimension of his creative, redeeming and sanctifying work for us. Ultimately, in Christ’s willingness to take upon Himself the fullness of our suffering, pain, and sin; we see the unfathomable depths and unflappable constancy of God’s Love for us, His children. Set apart is His Love! Set apart is His name in the praise of our hearts and so too our lips and lives!
Furthermore, just as I sought to articulate to my mom that her influence in my life would continue in the quality of love I hoped to reflect in my life as a father, so we honor God’s name beyond only its usage in praise but also in the ways we live as His children. We are to demonstrate, with the help of the Spirit, the fruits of his presence in our lives. We are apples from the tree (which is no other than our Heavenly Father) and the witness of our lives should not fall far from His perfect love. Just as a tree becomes valued or dismissed by the sweetness and sustenance provided by it’s fruit, so the grave and truth we demonstrate either hallows or sullies God’s name. When I shared with my mother how her example inspired mine, there was no sense of burden or pressure associated with that continuing act of honoring her name; only an overwhelming gratitude for the gifts I had received though her and a wholehearted desire to share those gifts with others. So to there is nothing I long for more than to be an apple in God’s eyes, nothing more joyous to the heart than to give witness to the immutable and intimate sweetness of presence of God in our lives, nothing more consistent with the character of being one of God’s precious children than to demonstrate (through suffering when needs demand) the sustaining substance of God’s victorious love.
Chiefly grateful as a child of God, additionally grateful as a child of Dorothy Alma Book,