Love: The Rest of the Story
On Sunday, February 6th, Rev. David Strang, who has been here before will be delivering the sermon,” St. Valentine: The Rest of the Story,” while I am away for some rest. I was really intrigued by that title, and felt it was directing me to a close of my ministry soon here at FCC.
There will never be enough space in this newsletter or in my sermons to express my humble gratitude for the people of FCC. I could never thank the Search Committee that called me here enough for the 28 month I will have as your interim pastor. But now, things will begin to slow down for me as I discern what is next for me.
I hope you have been blessed by my time here, as I have been blessed by you. I really never noticed a sign in Stacy’s office until this week. I may have seen it, but it never hit me until now. Inhale love. Exhale gratitude.
I leave that gift to you as well.
I will be away from Feb.2-9th. Call the office in case of any emergencies.
Feb. 13– It’s the Blessing That Counts Luke 6:17-26 Does it matter if we count our blessings? The wonder of God’s power to bless is that it happens regardless of our circumstances.
Feb. 20- Unreasonable Love Luke 6:27-38 One of the most central teachings of Jesus is that we ought to love our enemies. How are we doing?
Feb. 27- Lifting the Veil 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2 The apostle Paul wants us to pull back a veil so that we may see the transforming power of God.
- Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2022
- Presidents Day, February 21, 2022
- Transfiguration of Our Lord, February 27, 2022
Beyond Candy Hearts & Roses
The first half of February seems dominated by pink and red, cards and candy. But people not in a loving romantic relationship can sometimes feel left out of the festivities. Of course, all people need love — and certainly love is not limited to the romantic kind. Author Leo Buscaglia, who became known as “Dr. Love” for writing about the topic, said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Jesus taught that loving one another is second only in importance to loving God (Matthew 22:37-40), and that when we love one another, God lives in us (1 John 4:12). There are so many ways to do that — beyond candy hearts and roses! But Valentine’s Day is as good a reminder as any.
When Bowen Hammitt was born with essentially half a heart, the odds were stacked against him. But after three surgeries and numerous setbacks, Bowen is now an active 11-year-old who raises awareness about congenital heart disease. He’s also a budding Christian musician, following in the footsteps of his dad, Matt (formerly with Sanctus Real). The Hammitts use Bowen’s story to offer hope amid adversity — “a message the world really needs right now.” The documentary Bowen’s Heart features this tagline: “Is it worth giving your heart to something that can break it?” Absolutely, say his loved ones, who describe Bowen and his life as incredible blessings from God.
For Matt Hammitt, Proverbs 13:12 is now a favorite Bible verse. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” it reads, “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (NIV).
The Right Words for Victory in Jesus
My mom tells a story of me as a preschooler, swinging in our backyard and singing loudly (and off key, I’m sure): “Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He socked me and bopped me with his redeeming blood.” Though that isn’t an example of how to effectively share Jesus with your neighbors, the mistaken words might contain a nugget of truth.
In 1939, a stroke partially paralyzed hymn writer Eugene Bartlett. Bedridden and unable to perform anymore, he penned his final, most beloved song, “Victory in Jesus.” The actual lyrics read: “O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood.”
It’s beautiful to realize that Jesus did indeed seek me out and pay the ultimate price for me. But sometimes I forget — and that’s when he “socks me” and “bops me.” Jesus loves me too much to let life’s chaos and struggles distract me from him and what he’s done. Let’s all remember to celebrate our victory in Jesus! —Janna Firestone
Faith’s Role in Love
In It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, Christian author Sheila Walsh looks at the all-encompassing love that Jesus expects of his followers. He commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27, ESV).
But we can’t love that way without faith, Walsh writes. “I’m not living by faith if I have an answer to everything. If I understand everything God does or doesn’t do, then all I need to love him with is my mind. We’re called to love him with more.” That “more,” she explains, involves these paradoxes: “We love with all our heart, even when it’s broken. We love with our soul, even when our humanity wrestles against our situation. We love with our strength, even when it’s almost gone. We love with our mind, even when we don’t understand.”
Even if God’s purposes and plans don’t make sense here on earth, we can heed this advice from the great preacher Charles Spurgeon: “When we cannot trace [God’s] hand, we must trust his heart.”