Dear Church Family and Community,
Every now and then, we get one of those surreal episodes or moments that just remains with us. We remember where we were. We remember what we were doing. We remember who we were with. And sometimes even, we remember the most particular of the details. The end of our first service this past Sunday was indeed one of those moments, as we learned of the homegoing of our dear sister, Jaida Washington.
Towards the end of that service, I got word that police were outside the church and wanted me to know of a death in my family. We scrambled to get more information as the service concluded. When I was finally able to check my phone, I saw all the missed calls. After some follow-up and conversations, we learned that Jaida had been called home.
Then yesterday, we learned of yet another homegoing, that of our dear brother, Bart Smith. While we have known for some time that Bart’s health was on the decline, the news of his passing is no less difficult. Death almost always catches us off-guard. We are never fully or even partially prepared to say goodbye to a loved one. We experience loss, pain, brokenness, and sorrow. We ride a wave of emotions. Our heart hurts, and words fail us. We know hope and fight to hold on to it. And praise God that death does not have the final word on us – for we know victory through Jesus our Christ.
In this season of mourning, praise God who is close to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in the spirit. In this day of sorrow, praise God who is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, the One who comforts and carries us through all of our troubles. In this hour of despair, praise God who blesses all those who mourn and who promises to never leave nor forsake us.
As the Body of Christ, we are blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit in and among us. As a church and community, we are blessed to be members of one another. Jaida and Bart’s homegoing are an opportunity for us to love, to pray, and to journey as best as we can with Jaida’s children, Jaida and Bart’s parents, their siblings, extended family, and friends. In the coming days, we will be sharing more information about their funerals and ways you can support both families. For now, I ask you all to pray and keep praying. Thank you.
This week, I’m grateful that God laid on Pastor Lynda’s heart, to bring us a message focusing on our call to carry each other’s burdens. God desires and has created the Body of Christ to bear one another’s burdens. As we navigate our recent grief, I cannot think of a more appropriate message for our family to hear. In preparation, please take time to read and pray through Colossians 3:12-17 and Galatians 6:1-10. As you read, please take time to think about and write out ways God has called and equipped you to love and care for others. How has God comforted and carried you in your struggles? How can you bring comfort and help carry your sister or brother?
Lastly, I just wanted to again thank you all for the chance to celebrate the work God has done in our church since we made our home on Derry Street. Last week’s services were not just a celebration of paying off our mortgage, but of God’s faithfulness, and the faithfulness of you, His people. We go forward with God, excited to continue to partner with him to share the gospel, to help usher in the kingdom, and to bring peace and reconciliation to our world. We shine as God’s lights, for there is no darkness God cannot conquer, no brokenness God cannot heal, and nothing that God cannot make right. If you missed hearing this message, please be sure to check it out here on our website, or through our sermon podcast on Soundcloud, Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher.
As always, thank you all for reading. I hope and pray this finds you doing well.
May the Lord continue to bless and keep you all!
Love in Christ,
Pastor Hank (2 Corinthians 1:2-4)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104