Pastoral Reflections

Rev. Dr. Jack Haberer Beloved FPCA Friend,

“Rooted in Christ: Growing as Disciples in Community.” Are you getting it? You’d have to be pretty dense or truant to have missed the theme we preached, taught, and discussed relentlessly over the past 12 months.

So what’s next? Well, what isn’t next is an abandonment of any of those themes. Stale bread they do not make. However, we are now beginning to expound upon a new theme for this September 2018 to August 2019 season. Tis new theme builds upon the old—although it could stand on its own. It’s potent, packed with meaning, challenging, inviting, and inspiring.

Ready to hear it?

It goes like this: “God Is Calling You … Partnering in Christ’s Mission.”

Please allow me to unpack succinctly three major foci which could take years to understand, and do take a lifetime to actualize.

First, this theme declares that God has placed a call upon your life. God issued an ultimate, universal call to us all when promising through Moses, the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles: “You shall be my people, and I shall be your God.” Tat call brings us into a direct, loving, grace-filled, life- reconciling relationship with God. God also issued particular, specific calls to each one of us that work themselves out through us by way of the spiritual gifts each of us has been given, the learnings we’ve appropriated, the circumstances into which we have been placed, and especially the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

We’ll spend a few months exploring how God’s calling has worked through an amazing collection of biblical characters—and moderns whose lives have emulated theirs.

Second, the theme points to a driving purpose: Christ’s mission. Do you know that Jesus was a missionary? He was born of the Virgin Mary in order to take the missio dei (Latin for “mission of God”) to a whole new level. His incarnation, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension provide a five-stage rocket to launch the mission and make it soar to the breadths of the planet and heights of the stars. And just as that fifth stage (his ascension) lit up, he handed to

us the commission to take his mission to its fullness. All of our Christian discipleship is to be lived on the mission field—which happens to be the very place you are at any given moment. Unlike the old pattern of treating mission as a special weekend on the church calendar, or a one-line item among many in a church budget, or a practice to be carried out by a few special people, mission is the heart of the Christian life, the Christian person’s identity, the purpose for all of us to live.

We will spend our winter months opening our eyes and broadening our grasp of what it means to be missional Christians in a missional church.

Tird, the theme defines the context for our discernment of call and the impetus for our mission: partnership. Tat is, partnering with fellow congregants in corporate worship; partnering with a small “together group” of close, covenanted comrades who are fully committed to each other in Godly fellowship; and partnering with those to whom we go in mission. Partners are coequals in value, in caring, in learning, in doing the mission of Christ.

Troughout the year, we’ll talk about and engage in developing Together Groups. In the Eastertide-to-Pentecost season, we’ll give heightened focus to making such groups foundational for our life together at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown.

So all together now, please repeat after me: “God Is Calling You … Partnering in Christ’s Mission.”

Grace and peace to you and yours, 3

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