A Letter From Mark
Reading brings me great joy. In fact, I enjoy reading all kinds of literature, everything from fiction to history to theology. But there is one type of writing that brings me little enjoyment, and yet, it’s a type of writing that has consumed a good bit of my time lately: CONTRACTS.
I am in the midst of selling one house in Virginia and buying another in Raleigh. That means I have had lots of contracts to read: drafts of contracts, revised contracts, and final contracts. I shouldn’t complain about these contracts because they ultimately protect my interest, for which I am thankful. Contracts are about two sides agreeing to live up to their promises, and I definitely want the people buying my old house and the ones selling me my new one to live up to their promises. But one thing I don’t like about contracts is all the fine print!
As odd as this might sound, these contracts have made me think about how we relate to God. My house buying and selling experience reflects how people often relate to one another. We think in contractual terms. We often say to each other that we will fulfill our part as long as you fulfill yours. We may even think of our relationship with God in this way. If we pray hard enough, if we give enough, if we never miss a Sunday at church, if we do enough service projects, then God will _______________ (you can fill in the blank).
But God doesn’t work in the realm of contracts. God is a God of COVENANT. Henri Nouwen writes in his book Bread for the Journey that “God didn't make a contract with us; God made a covenant with us, and God wants our relationships with one another to reflect that covenant. That's why marriage, friendship, life in community are all ways to give visibility to God's faithfulness in our lives together.”
Is God’s faithfulness visible in your life? In the life of Forest Hills Baptist Church? Before you answer these questions, I hope you will remember that each day is an opportunity for us to renew our commitments – or dare I say, our covenants with the Lord.
Each day is like a new beginning. When we wake up in the morning, we can recommit ourselves to God and living the way of Christ. And we can trust that the Lord will walk hand-in-hand with us, even when we have trouble sensing God’s presence. But isn’t that what faith is about? Faith is about trusting what we cannot see, or touch, or know fully.
I am excited about my new beginning as your pastor. I am excited that God is walking with us as we “Seek, Serve, and Share.” Of course, I know the journey of faith isn’t always exciting. There are good times and bad. But through it all we can trust that God walks with us and is encouraging us to be faithful in all we do, as individuals and as a church. May it be so as we walk together with the Lord.