Laundry Work

My wife loves making lists, because she loves checking things off her list.  Striking through task after task brings a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Nothing beats the feeling of checking off that last item and heading for a well-earned rest.   But wait, there is one more item – that stubborn one that is always there, yet never removed, never finished.  You know the one I mean.  Laundry work.

Laundry is never done.  You may wash the last load and fold the last dishrag and smugly congratulate yourself in your victory over dirty clothes, then in a flash your family appears bearing those loads they have been holding back for “such a time as this.”   And, thus it starts all over again.  Laundry is never done.  By definition, as long as we live in this fallen world where we are no longer naked and not ashamed, laundry is ever-awaiting.

In our household, “laundry work” is a ready metaphor for any job or experience in life that is always being done but never getting done.  Life is filled with these, not the least of which is wrestling with God.  Wrestling with what He has done, wrestling with what He has not done, wrestling with what he has called us to do and where He has called us to go.   The trite slogan of evangelicalism is “Jesus is the Answer.”  But for those who have heeded the call to follow Him, you have probably learned by now that “Jesus is the Question.” Following Him is a task unfinished, a pilgrim life which finds no permanent resting place in this world, except in Him.   The life of the Christian is the life of wrestling with God, wrestling to cling to Him rather than to this world.

This is why modern-day Christians share the label “Israel,” with our forefathers in the faith.  Because we, like Jacob of old wrestle, with God’s promises and His power and His calling.   That wrestling is not a match, but a life.  It does not go a few rounds until someone gets pinned.   Jacob wrestled all night.   But our wrestling is for a lifetime.  Not a match, but a life.  The Christian life, this wrestling with God, is laundry work.  It is always being done, but never getting done.

After wrestling with God, Jacob returned to Canaan to take up residence in the land of promise.  But life there was anything but promising.  Joseph had been sold into slavery as a teenager and Jacob believed him to be dead.  He resolved never to stop grieving and refused to be comforted.  Meanwhile, Jacob’s others sons all lived wickedly and, like their uncle Esau, cared nothing for God or His promises.  Their birthright meant nothing and they despised it.  Jacob must have wondered if all the promises of God had failed.  Had it all come to nothing?  All the struggle, all the deception, all the conflict; what had it all been for?  Then comes the shocking, heart-stopping word that Joseph is still alive and is in Egypt.  All is arranged and Jacob is bidden to leave Canaan and go down to Egypt.  Leave Canaan?  Go to Egypt?  All of Jacob’s life and the lives of his father and grandfather have been bound up in a commitment to remain in Canaan and never, ever go down to Egypt.  Now Jacob is wrestling with two desires, two callings, and God’s will.

Join us for worship this Lord’s Day, September 2, at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine Genesis 46 and consider from the life of Jacob, how we wrestle with God when his call seems at odds with our desires.  For directions click here. We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Bonfire and Hymn Sing – Rescheduled!

The Pottsville Associate Reformed Church is hosting a Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing, Saturday, May 19, 2018.  We will get started at 6:00pm at The Manse.  The Church will provide drinks and each family will bring a favorite Middle-Eastern themed appetizer, entree or dessert. Bring your friends and family and join us for a night of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs!  Click here for directions or email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com for more info.

Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing POSTPONED!

The old adage is that if you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, wait an hour.  With a forecast for this Friday that includes heavy rains, thunderstorms and then the remote possibility of sleet and snow, we have decided to postpone the Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing scheduled for this  Friday, April 6, 2018.  We are working on a date in early May to reschedule.  Stay tuned for an update.   For more information email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com .

Bonfire and Hymn Sing

The Pottsville Associate Reformed Church is hosting a Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing, Friday, April 6, 2018.  We will get started at 6:00pm at The Manse.  The Church will provide drinks and each family will bring a favorite Middle-Eastern themed appetizer, entree or dessert. Bring your friends and family and join us for a night of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs!  Click here for directions or email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com for more info.

Who Is This?

When someone mentions Jesus, what comes to mind?  Religious revolutionary? Social justice warrior?  Ethical teacher?  Failed Zionist leader?  Founder of a yet another world religion? Who is this Jesus?  For many it is a caricature, influenced by pictures you have seen or by clichés which permeate our cultural ideas of “the historical Jesus.”  Or perhaps you remember him from a collection of anecdotes or parables you heard as a child in some Sunday School.

Jesus’ own disciples struggled to understand who he was and what he came to do.  From time to time glimpses shined through their own preconceived notions of Him.  In a poignant moment, as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee, a furious squall sprang up and threatened to sink their small fishing boat.  Half of Jesus’ disciples grew up on these tempestuous waters, fishing with their families from their childhood. Yet even they were convinced that they would not survive the trip.  They woke Jesus who was asleep in the back of the boat.  They did not ask him to save them – for what miracle working teacher was a match for a force-ten gale?  They only asked, “don’t you care that we are about to die?”   Jesus stood up in the boat and with a word, brought the waters from tempest to mirror.   These seasoned seamen were almost speechless.  The only thing they could say of Jesus was, “who is this?”   They perceived that there was much more to Jesus than even their imaginations could anticipate.

Who is Jesus?  The accounts of him at the end of the gospel of John are really very unexpected.  As he faces an unjust arrest, trial, and execution, we seem him not as a failed revolutionary swept up in the unstoppable tide of Roman tyranny and religious jealousy.  What we see is that Jesus is the one in complete control of everything that transpires.  He told his disciples, “no one takes my life from me.  I lay it down and I will take it up again.”

Who do you think Jesus is?  Come and find out as we walk through the final days of Jesus’ earthly life, from John 18-21.  Join us for worship this Lord’s Day, March 11, at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine John 18 and consider just who Jesus is and what he came to do.  Click here for directions.  We look forward to seeing you.

The God Who Sees

Recently our Congress extended permissions for the NSA to continue to dumpster dive in the flotsam and jetsam of your digital wake.  For another six years, so long as they happen to be hunting foreign terrorists, our government can keep a benevolent eye on us through the cyber tracks we leave everywhere in an ever-broadening desire to be connected.

Our pocket-palantirs are ever listening, watching and reporting.  In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien unwittingly prophesied the doubled-edged benefit of smart phones when he conceived of the Palantir.  The Palantir were seeing stones that let the characters in Tolkien’s world see and communicate with one another across time and space.   They also revealed the potential futures of those peering into them.  Sounds great, except that anyone looking into a Palantir could be seen by anyone possessing another Palantir, especially Sauron with his “all-seeing” eye.  Magic rings and Palantir are tempting productivity tools, but remember there is an “all-seeing” eye.

Many of my friends have tape on their smart phone camera, keep wifi and mobile data off, and never enable GPS because of concern that their pocket-palantir makes them seeable by an ambiguously benevolent higher power.  But this is not a new idea in the history of the world, just a different tool and new set of players.  Men have always had concern over whether they are being watched.  Jesus noted that men prefer darkness to light so that their deeds may remain hidden.  Yet the scripture notes that even darkness is as light to God and that the Lord sees everything, down even to the deepest thoughts and intents of the hearts.

The Nazca Indians of South America sensed this, even in their spiritual darkness, and constructed mammoth images on the desert floor to please the gods above whom they believed to be angry because of the lives of men.  Men throughout history have distressed over an awareness that the God Who Is, is a God Who Sees.  The Psalms speaks of those who try repress the knowledge of God’s omniscience through idolatry and atheism. Yet, this thing which men’s darkened hearts fear, is their greatest hope.  For the God who sees is the God who saves.  The God who sees is the God who loves the loveless and relieves the afflicted in their affliction.

Genesis 29 is a complicated story of an ancient family dealing with the whole cadre of modern sins.   Jacob deceives and is deceived, faces drama and jealousy, plays favorites and shirks his obligations and labors under caustic relations with in-laws.  What hope is there for such a family?   What hope is there for our complicated families?  Buried in this passage is the sad tale of Leah, the unloved wife and woman.  Her father trundled her off to Jacob to defraud him out of seven additional years of labor.  Her new husband despised her.  Her wedding bed was shared with her sister.  She was the contempt of her husband, father and sister – but not of the Lord who Sees.  He saw her in her affliction.  He saw that she was not loved.  He loved her and gave her the gift of children, whose love would fill up her empty spaces.

Join us for worship this Lord’s Day, March 11, at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine the story of Leah in Genesis 29 and consider how God, who sees us for what and who we are, is the God who loves us with steadfast and redemptive love.  Click here for directions.  We look forward to seeing you.

A Service of Readings and Songs

“What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinner’s gain; mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.  Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve thy place; look on me with thy favor, vouchsafe to me thy grace”  Bernard of Clairvaux

Join us this Good Friday, March 30, 2018 at 7:00pm at Pottsville Associate Presbyterian Church for a Service of Readings and Hymns.  For directions, click here.  For more information email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com.