Words can carry great power. They can challenge or comfort, they can inflame or inspire, and they can harm or heal. We’ve seen this all displayed in our recent national discourse.
Words can carry great power, and who it is that speaks can carry great weight. Presidents and poets, leaders and legislators–the past few weeks have produced no shortage of powerful words from those who occupy significant roles in our society. Some of what has been said may soon fade from our collective memory, while some of what has been said may endure, with their words remaining familiar and influential in years to come.
If the words that we speak to one another can carry such power and weight, then how much more consequential would it be for God himself to speak to us? This is not a thought exercise or hypothetical scenario. In Jesus, we have God himself, the Word-made-flesh, who has come to us. His words, then, carry greater power and weight than any others. That’s one of the reasons we’re currently studying the Sermon on the Mount. In it, we hear the Savior speaking to us. What Jesus says is not always easy to hear or embrace, yet he speaks words of light and life.
Even though the words of Jesus tower above anything else we will ever hear or say, the words we speak to one another still matter. As we’ll see this Sunday, Jesus says we cannot speak words of anger or insult to one another, and that we must speak with honesty and integrity at all times (Matthew 5:22,37).
We’re not good at this, which is why we must listen well to the words of the God who speaks to us–and then go out to live and speak as his people in this world. After all, we are to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). I pray this finds you healthy and well, and that we may all be those who hear and heed the words of our Savior.
This past Sunday, we began our new study of the Sermon on the Mount. In the beginning of it, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
While every Christian is called to extend mercy to others, Presbyterian churches also elect Deacons as a group specifically tasked with extending compassion and service to the members of our congregation and community. Our board of twelve Deacons works diligently to demonstrate mercy and love in tangible ways to those in need, and they have been a blessing to many–especially in this past year. One of the most visible ways they do so is through our food pantry. Because of high demand and the challenges of the pandemic, we are one of the only food pantries in the area that is still open. The need for aid, however, is greater than usual, and we expect that to remain true in coming months.
Though our Deacons have managed this work largely on their own, they could also use some help. With the food pantry, this involves various tasks such as: ordering/tracking inventory, packing bags, communicating with pantry clients, and delivering food (monthly) to clients in the Oakland area. If you are able to help in any of these ways, or would like to find out more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are in need of help–or know of those who are in need–please also let us know and we will be glad to serve you in Christ’s name.
We have been getting connected with more people than ever before through this ministry of mercy, and it has enabled us to share and show the love of Jesus to those around us. By living out the character displayed in the Beatitudes, we bear witness to the kingdom of God and serve as the salt and light that Jesus has called us to be in this world. This is not just a calling for those elected to serve as Deacons, but for each and every follower of Jesus.
Last Sunday we observed the beginning of a new year. This Sunday we will observe the beginning of two things: the resumption of onsite worship and the start of a new sermon series. I’ll say a word about each.
First, we plan to resume our onsite 11am worship service in the sanctuary. In making this decision, our Facilities Safety Task Force and elders have considered the status of PA restrictions (they were lifted last week), monitored local trends, and consulted with medical professionals. After prayerful discussion, we have decided to once again offer an onsite worship option for those who would like to attend. Communion, using individually pre-packaged elements, will be included as part of this service.
We recognize that this may not be the best option for everyone at this time. If you belong to a vulnerable or at-risk population–or if you have been experiencing any symptoms of illness–we invite you to participate in our worship at home service online instead. This service will continue to be produced each week, and we encourage you to share it with others and join us for worship as part of the Bellefield family.
If you plan to attend the 11am service, know that all our previous guidelines and protocols remain in effect: masks, physical distancing, seating by households, and check-in attendance will be required.
Second, whether you join us onsite or online, we will begin a new series focused on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). This is Jesus’ most famous body of teaching, and has been a deep well of wisdom for Christians throughout the ages. It is challenging and comforting. It sets forth the charter for our lives as disciples and displays the dynamics of the kingdom of God. I encourage you to read through it in advance as we prepare to spend time listening to the words of our Savior.
Grace and peace to you this new year, and always. Josh