Pastor’s Heart – August 2022

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;

As I work to prepare this article, I am looking at all that is coming in our near future, Homecoming, meetings, meals and school starting. I remember once when Jackie and I were talking during my 15 years of trying to finish at Duke, I told her I could not wait until I could read something I wanted to read and write something I wanted to write. Since graduating twice I have taken time to read things I like. I have yet to write what I would like, maybe in my retirement.

I say all of that to bring our attention back to learning in church. Back to small groups learning together and back to reading Bibles. As we come to Homecoming and school starting back, I wanted to share a few thoughts and yes a few scriptures.

Romans 15:4 tells us “4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

Revelation 1:3 says “3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

Psalm 119:105 advises us “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

In the hymn “We are the Church”, the last verse states the church is always learning.    I sometimes wonder how true that is.   Now clearly, there is a level of learning that just comes with living life, but I wonder how seriously the average believer in Christ takes seriously learning as part of faith development.   John Wesley encouraged and required those who wanted to serve as preachers in the Methodist movement to read five hours a day.   That might feel excessive, especially when we consider that 25% of adults have not even opened a book in the past five years.

My hope is that we can find a middle ground between five hours a day and never.   Reading, wrestling with, and applying what we read is one of the most effective ways to learn and grow.  Again, John Wesley saw reading as essential to a healthy Christian life.   In a letter he wrote to a troubled preacher, he diagnosed the problem as a lack of reading.  In response to this man, Wesley encouraged him to read by writing to him: “Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer.”

Reading is a discipline that some of us have fallen out of, but books feed our soul and give it a means to grow.   This month, students are going back to school to prepare for another school year of learning and development.   Perhaps this is a good time for all of us to do our own soul justice and commit to reading and our Bibles or a faith-based book before the end of the year. Maybe we can come back together in small groups or Sunday School, just once a week to continue learning and prove the scriptures. The time is near so be prepared.

We live in a time of unparalleled literacy and access to books.  Whatever area of faith you want to grow in, there is a book for you, and it should not be too hard to find.    May we all go back to school this August and do our part to ensure that the church is indeed always learning. May we all find the lamp to our feet and the light to our path.

Peace and Grace
Pastor Ron