“Peace on earth” is easy to say, but hard to make a reality. Peace is not simply the absence of conflict. When humans are involved, there is inevitably going to be conflict. Peace is the absence of injustice, the absence of hate, the absence of selfishness, and the absence of wishing harm on others. When put like this it seems that gaining peace on earth is impossible. Peace will not come from wishful thinking or from disregarding or ignoring the current reality of abuse, hostility, corruption, division, and hate rampant in our world. Peace making is hard work.
Peace starts with me. There are so many bullies out there (both people and systems), so we may be tempted to choose one, take them out, and then move on to the next. But blaming everyone else for the absence of peace is not going to fix it. I first have to fix myself. I only have control over what I do, and this control only goes so far. There is a self-centered inclination within my human heart that many times has a hard time seeking the good of others. Until I fix my selfish heart, I will not have peace within my own soul and will not be able to make any peace. But guess what? I can’t fix myself. I can improve myself; I can move through steps to recover from habits and addictions; and I can even become a nicer person, but I can’t ultimately fix myself.
I share the disorder of every human being: a sinful heart. I am incapable of seeking the well-being of others without submitting to the purposes of God for me. Even when I do right by others, I usually am in it for selfish reasons. So here goes, I’m just going to say it. I need God’s grace to enable me to be open to God’s purposes for me (and all humanity for that matter). Only then can I have peace with God and peace with myself. God’s grace is always “with” me, but it is not effective “in” and “through” me until I repent of my sinful ways and allow God to transform me. It is only then that I can start making peace on earth. My act of confession and repentance is just the start of fixing myself. As God forgives, heals my heart, and puts His Spirit within me, I find myself at the trailhead to a long journey of grace. God goes with me on this journey to work on my inside so what happens on the outside is more aligned with God’s purposes.
When I start this journey, I become part of a community – the people of God. As a community we become more others centered, looking after other’s needs ahead of our own. We begin to advocate (with purer motives) for those without a voice as they struggle against injustice. We can begin to work together to change human systems which do not seek equal justice for all. We, as the people of God, can help bring God’s Kingdom to earth.
If we all do our part, we will cooperate with God’s activity to bring peace on earth. May it be so.
Image Source: River of Life Church, Elk River MN (https://www.rolmn.org/)
LRF Update 20-Mar-2020
Lewis River Fellowship will do our part to slow the transmission of COVID-19 in Woodland WA and greater Cowlitz County by suspending all in person church services and meetings until further notice. This decision is based on directives from local and federal health authorities as well as the Global Church of the Nazarene.
This does NOT mean that we are not “having church.” You may remember the children’s action poem where you make a church building with hands folded, pointers toward the sky, thumbs as doors and other fingers inside. The rhyme goes like this – “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people!” This implies the church is the building, but we all know in our heads this is not true. The building is simply the place where the church meets sometimes. The church is the finger-people inside!
This is going to be an opportunity for us to realize that the church is more than a building, more than services, more than meetings, more than programs. We are the living Body of Christ in this world. To this end, we will be organizing and communicating several ways to stay faithful and connected during this time. Some of us will be harder hit than others, so we want to check-in and help take care of each other. To our knowledge none of our congregation have contracted the virus, but we know some are suffering from job loss and other related issues. Please contact me or other church leaders if you have immediate needs.
You can keep updated on our website https://lewisriverfellowship.org, join our Lewis River Fellowship Facebook Messenger group or check out our Lewis River Fellowship Facebook page. We will also go old school and send USPS mailings, call each other on the phone and, as always, continue to pray for/with each other.
We are especially concerned about our most vulnerable members and have formed a group of people to reach out to our seniors for connection, support, prayer, help with groceries and meds, and other errands. Our children’s ministry is reaching out with resources for home devotions and activities and we will be arranging some livestream and podcast messages as the weeks go by.
Our goal on Easter is to have a virtual service and share communion together. We are mailing to your homes enough individual communion elements for your family. You will be invited to join as many as can as we take communion together by getting online or on the phone.
Stay tuned for updates. Spend time with family praying, reading, sharing and doing. Connect with each other and those around you. Meet your neighbors. Write some notes. Use this forced isolation during this Lenten season to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice and love for us. Look for God to show up in the disruption and the chaos and let Him renew and restore your soul.
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” John 13:34-35 CEB
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all,
Pastor Mike Morgan
Out of caution Lewis River Fellowship did not gather for worship on March 15. We are reviewing the guidance from federal and state agencies and also from the General and WAPAC District Church of the Nazarene to determine how best to balance our connection and ministry as a local church and at the same time respond in a responsible way to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
We serve a mighty God who provides strength, calms fears and puts His peace in our hearts in times like this. Remember these words of Jesus as he shared the last meal with his disciples before going to the cross (John 14:26-28 CEB):
The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away and returning to you.’ If you loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than me.
As we plan and notify you of next steps I want you to take advantage of this time to be together with your family, reach out to those who need help, and keep connected with those among us who must remain isolated. We will get through this together.
We have started a Lewis River Fellowship Facebook page and you can check the current blog on our https://lewisriverfellowsip.org website for more information. You can also submit prayer requests on the website.
We will send a mailing soon about all this, but we encourage you to connect through these media, if you are able. For those who do not have access to Facebook or Messenger or the website, we will connect in more personal ways.
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all.
Pastor Mike Morgan