Linda Jones, Associate Regional Minister
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy!
“When they saw the star…” Oh, to see that star, so that we may rejoice again!
During the past 10 months, it has been a bit difficult at times to find much to rejoice about, and our faith has been tested during what we have gotten used to calling “uncertain times,” “tumultuous time,” and “deep divisions.” However, there is still cause to rejoice, to believe, to have great faith…as we await once again the coming of the Christ Child!
As we continue through these trying times and this waiting time together, we may find ourselves much as the Disciples in Luke 17, asking God for more faith. We may feel like we don’t have enough faith to believe we can get through this together or to trust in God enough to know that with great loss and grief, God will not abandon us. That’s fine, folks…there would be something wrong if we didn’t entertain these thoughts from time to time.
I recently read a few ideas on the matter of faith from Presbyterian USC blogger, Rev. Dr. Alan Brehm, who wrote:
It would seem that from time to time we can all get discouraged about our faith. When that happens, I think we need to remember the lesson Jesus tried to teach his disciples. They came to him asking for ‘more faith’ to be able to live up to the challenging demands of Christian discipleship, and he answered that they didn’t need more faith but rather a sense of what faith is all about. Faith is not a matter of performing spectacular feats; rather it is about continuing to speak the Gospel and live it out every day, regardless of the outcome. When we struggle with discouragement in our day and time, we can remember that it is not our ‘success’ but rather our perseverance that demonstrates God’s powerful and loving presence among us.
Kentucky Disciples, I am here to tell you that with each difficulty we have faced in the past several months, we have demonstrated God’s powerful and loving presence among us. Our faith is indeed being lived out, whether we realize it or not. Disciples throughout Kentucky have taken to the streets to speak to injustices and to promote God’s love of the “least of these, “ of those oppressed, in an attempt to counter the divisions that have plagued us. Disciples throughout Kentucky have found ways to care for others by feeding the hungry and meeting the needs of our neighbors. In our context as church, in many ways, this pandemic brought out the best in us.
While we may not have performed those “spectacular feats of greatness,” we have continued “to speak the Gospel and live it out every day.” We have not given into discouragement. We are beginning to understand again what faith is all about. Congregations found new ways to worship and serve together. We managed to draw on our collective faith, our mustard seed sized faith, with the constancy of God, to do things that last March we thought insurmountable. That alone is one reason to rejoice!
Regionally, online camp options were created and offered. Clergy still gather in districts and fellowship groups. Eight congregations have extended new calls since March. Over 200 people registered for a Regional Assembly like we’ve never experienced before. We will take our learnings, and, in the coming months, we will raise up new denominational leaders and provide gatherings to address issues of the day to change hearts and build up the reign of God. We will continue to live in community and faithfulness as congregations despite the distances between us because that is what our faith in God and through God has shown us that we must do.
And, we will rejoice. Yes, we will rejoice exceedingly when we once again see the star and recognize that the Savior is with us still.
While many congregations have continued their support of Disciples Mission Funding this season of uncertainly, please know that the Christian Church in Kentucky depends on donors like you in both good times and troubled times. Through your generosity, we can continue to persevere and demonstrate, alongside you, God’s presence among us by creating opportunities for children and youth to find faith and friendship at camp; helping congregations and pastors find ministry together; equipping those called to ministry for service in the church and beyond; providing programs that connect Disciples across Kentucky and develop leaders for the days ahead; and, demonstrating care for congregations and clergy in their celebrations and challenges.
We all play a vital role in this ministry and provide blessings and cause for others to rejoice through our faithfulness. As you prepare for the coming of the Christ Child anew and await the star to tell us of that coming, we ask that you remember and give generously to the Christmas Special Offering in support of the work of this our mutual ministry through the Christian Church in Kentucky.