Pastoral Letter for May 8, 2020
As the weeks drag on, the purpose of this letter has subtly shifted. Back when this whole thing started, it was a way to get information out to everyone about what we were doing and how things would shift online. We struggled together to adjust to the new normal, and for the most part, we’ve settled into the new pattern of life. And so, while the pastoral letter still will give you some news and updates on what the church is planning, doing, and considering, Dr. Dave and I have seen it as another way to call ourselves to the great truths of the Gospel that bind us together and help us through the ups and downs of life. Please keep reading these letters. In our present situation, we need to be calling ourselves to the unfading hope of the Gospel again and again. And why?
One reason why we need to hear/read the Gospel so much is because I found myself both asking and answering the question, “How are you guys doing?”, quite a bit. And the usual response from you and me is, “Fine.”. My family and I are relatively safe and provided for. We have been remarkably blessed throughout this pandemic. But now that we’re 9 pastoral letters into this pandemic, “fine” has noticeably frayed around the edges. I’ll confess that I find that life is grayer, flatter, and more wearisome. It’s simply hard to enjoy life here in pandemic-land. The stress and anxiety of an invisible and ever-present threat makes me sometimes feel alone and abandoned by the Lord. The questions, “Where is God in all this?” and “Why is God allowing this to happen?”, usually go unanswered simply because we can’t possibly know.
In the face of those unanswerable questions, what has the Lord’s response been to me? Well, He’s forced me to consider who He is and the joy that comes from Him. And it’s been kind of in my face. When I sat down to prep for Sunday School while mulling over this letter, I turned in my commentary to the section on Isaiah 51. It started with a Bach cantata that was inspired by a hymn written by a German pastor living in the middle of a plague. Ok, Lord. I see you.
And so let’s look quickly at Isaiah 51:9-11.
Isaiah 51:9-11 – 9Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon? 10Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over? 11And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
The Israelites, God’s chosen people, were in exile. They were isolated, alone, and felt abandoned by God. It felt like the Lord was asleep on the job. And so they cried out in their suffering for God to awake and do something! They want Him to awake as in the old days, the days of the Exodus where His mighty power was on display. And in a sense their cries do two things. First, they are like a prayer to the Lord, beseeching Him to deliver them. And second, they call the Israelites to remember the fact that God is both mighty and on their side. They’re remembering the mighty works of God to assure themselves of both His capability and His care.
We all know that God is not asleep on the job. No, the ones asleep are us! We are mired in our own sufferings, unable to look past them to see the Lord working on our behalf. We need to awaken to the reality and truth that we have a mighty God who loves us. We have been redeemed in Christ, the ultimate fulfillment of the redemption that is pointed to in the Israelites passing through the Red Sea. We have been ransomed, and we are His. The promise of verse 11 is already here. We have been united to Christ and come into His house with singing. And what is the result of all of that remembering? Joy. Everlasting joy shall reign, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. And why? Because we have Christ. Because we are partakers together of grace. Because we are sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That Gospel truth is something to rejoice in. Each day is a day that the Lord has made, and each day is a day where we know that we stand secure in the mighty of Christ. So when then days are grey and lonely, I lift my eyes up to see the Lord shining forth His glorious grace and love to us. Let us rejoice and be glad in Him.
Now let me remind you that the Session is still working and praying for you. A few quick things to consider.
- Please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Go to YouTube and search for PHPC or try this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYgRYaRNvD3ueqIQgZ0v6mA
- Please let the pastors and elders know how you’re doing. We’re trying to be proactive in reaching out to all of you, but relationships are a two-way street. Reach out to your elders. It will make their day to hear from you.
- A big thank you to all of you for your financial support! Many churches have been hit hard by the pandemic, and yet, most of you have continued to be faithful in giving. We know that it’s a hard time for many of you financially, and we continue to be thankful for your generous and sacrificial giving.
- If you haven’t figured out how to give yet, there are 4 ways that you can give: Billpay, mailed checks, through Realm, or through PayPal.
Billpay service is provided by most banks through their website and we recommend this. Just have the checks sent to the church office:
Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church
2 Cardinal Park Drive, SE, Suite 101A
Leesburg, VA 20175
You can also mail your own checks to the church office at this address. If you have a Realm account, you can give through the “Realm Connect” app on your phone, or through the “Giving” tab when you’re logged into Realm. Even if you’re not in Realm you can give by going to this link,: https://onrealm.org/PotomacHills/-/give/now or by texting PHPCgive to 73256. Finally, we accept PayPal payments to the account email@example.com
- And please don’t forget about our All-Church Night of Prayer on Thursday, May 28th. None of the Community Groups will be scheduled that week so everyone can join together on Zoom to pray. We’ll have a special prayer guide that night to follow along. We hope you find this special night of prayer to be helpful. We always have reasons to pray.
- The session is working diligently on plans for worshipping together again. You can expect the plan to be flexible and phased according to what is legal and what is wise. We will be communicating those plans to you as soon as they’re finalized. Please be patient with us, as you all have already been thus far. Thank you for your graciousness and flexibility in this time!
I miss you all terribly, and I can’t wait to see you all again in person. Hopefully that will be soon.
Rev. Frank Wang, Assistant Pastor
Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church