Great Is Thy Faithfulness: An AGM Encouragement

05.19.19 | Pastoral Reflections by Brad Sumner

The wooden sign and its black and white numbers gave me all I needed to know.  As we filed into the hard pine pew, my hands would reflectively reach for the brown speckled hymnal and I would flip through till I had my fingers in each page that was dutifully forecast from the front.  If I close my eyes, I can still see the flecks in the paper. I can still feel the hefty weight of the book’s spine in my little hands. I can still smell the sanctuary and hear the sound of voices lifted up in four part harmony.  The soundtrack of my church experience growing up was almost exclusively shaped by a rich hymnody. 

 

On Sunday nights we could request our favorites, and there was one hymn whose lines have stuck with me to this day.  The hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” has a line in the third verse that resonates strongly with me in this season of life together at Jericho. Speaking of God’s character, the hymn writer says “Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide.” We breeze past that line pretty quickly but it is an incredible reality that the God who hung the stars into place and who sustains everything the exists has a deep desire to be present with us as we walk this journey of faith. 

 In this hymn, the writer speaks of a two-fold impact of God’s presence. First, there’s an emotive component. The presence of God brings “cheer” to those who are discouraged.  It can be easy in a season of high transition to become discouraged.  To begin to lose heart and think “is it worth it to hang in there relationally, financially and programmatically through this next season of construction?”  But friends, God’s presence and power are not taking a vacation during our renovation. On the contrary, at this Ministry Night, you’ll hear stories from our kids and our small groups about how life-changing work continues to occur in the midst of all of the other things we are juggling. 

 The hymn writer then notes that God’s presence is not only to cheer, but also to guide.  Here I think about ancient the Hebrew people wandering in the wilderness.  During their post-Egypt, pre-Jericho sojourn they lived in tents before they had a permanent home.  During all that time, God led them personally and providentially.  God’s presence was never more real and more close than during that season on their lives.  They didn’t know what was ahead: All they had to cling to were the promises of God and the presence of God.  The same holds true for us.  So we’ll spend time at Ministry Night in a posture of listening prayer where we press in and ask God for fresh promises to guide us in this season.

 The hymn writer concludes by asking God to give them “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…”  Friends, we need both.  There is a strengthening that will be required to be flexible as we navigate construction dust and the financial and volunteer dynamics associated with being on a growth trajectory.  God has a “bright hope for tomorrow” for Jericho Ridge here in this space.  Like God’s people of old, we are currently walking out a pathway that has lots of twists and turns and unknowns in it. We are walking into a future where we need God’s strengthening hand and guidance. But we walk together in the blessed assurance that morning by morning we are going to see new mercies.  And we walk knowing that that all that we have needed, God’s hand has provided.  Because I am more convinced than I have ever been that if there is one thing that is true, it’s that God’s faithful love endures forever and God’s faithfulness to us in this season is not just something to cling to, it’s something to sing about!

I'm looking forward to seeing you at our Ministry Night AGM on Sunday, May 26 at 6 PM.  Register online for the dessert potluck and for childcare (registration closes Wed, May 22) HERE.

If you didn't pick one up, you can download a copy of our Ministry Night Packet HERE.  The elders are bringing forward three recommendations:

1) The financial statements for 2018 be accepted as presented (the summary is in the packet and we will have a 'notice to reader' set of statements from Facet Accounting available Sunday)

2) Miriam Faulkes be affirmed for another 2 year team as an elder (see her profile in the packet).

3) That we increase our loan by $850,000 in order to finance the increased costs of renovations. 

Your questions and comments are welcome and we'll see you Sunday evening!  

-Pastor Brad