Update Letter from Pastor Clay for April 1, 2020
April 1, 2020
Greetings First Baptist Friends and Family,
Last Sunday’s Facebook Live stream of our worship service went a lot smoother than the week before. We are working on more improvements, like adding words to the screen for the songs and scripture. I was on a conference call with several pastors recently and we all had technology learning curve woes to share. As of Tuesday, the video from last Sunday received 203 plays and reached over 1000 people. Starting at 9:00 a.m. instead of our normal 10:30 am seemed to help our feed work better and made it able to reach people who wanted to join ours before their home church went live. A few of you noticed and greeted Kacy, my Fiancée’ and she responded while I was speaking. First off, she was up at 6:00 a.m. her time to join us and secondly God is preparing me for married life, you being more interested in chatting with her than listening to me speak 😊. We will go live again this coming Sunday at 9:00 a.m.
As we journey through this COVID 19 crises together while apart I have few thoughts I want to share. It is a journey, with many emotions attached. Sometimes starkly different emotions over the same situation. It is great to have some much time together and catch up on things around the house and then flip in an instant to you are driving me crazy and my home feels like a prison. We want to make sense out of it, create a rational framework and look for the bright side. All those are good and can be helpful at times. Scripture realizes there are other times when lament is the answer. There are many lament portions in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) for the people of God.
“Lament is what happens when people ask, “why?” and don’t get an answer. It is where we get to when we move beyond our self-centered worry about our sins and failures and look more broadly at the suffering of the world” N.T. Wright
Try reading Psalm 10, 13, 22, 88 and 89 for a taste of biblical lament. Scripture tells us that God also laments. Jesus displayed lament when He got caught up in the pain surrounding His friend’s death. He was about to raise him from the dead, but He paused to weep with the grieving. Sometimes the most Christian thing we can do is join the suffering of the world without answers.
I have been in a few conversations recently where people ask how I am doing. Everything seems a little off, many unknowns, several concerns for people I care deeply about, but I am mostly and usually at peace. Technology frustrations have tested that a few times. So, with extra time to ponder why, I am drawn to a significant lament period of my life. My long divorce process helped prepare me for what I am facing today. I definitely don’t recommend the training process I went through, but I cannot deny the benefits of going through it. I didn’t know where I would live, how it would impact my relationship with my kids, if I could keep earning a paycheck, if the emotional rawness would ever go down and if sleep would be restful again. At one point in a lament filled prayer I clearly understood God saying to me embrace His grace. The same grace I aggressively shared with others going through similar horrible times. A grace the doesn’t ignore failings but fills them with God’s love that is too good to be earned. The unknowns are not exactly the same today as they were back then, but the shaping God did in me then continues to help me take a soothing bubble bath in God’s grace during times of lament.
Let me end by sharing a verse in from Hebrews 4:15, ESV: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."
Grace, Peace and Undeniable Hope in Jesus,
PS: Thank you to those of you who have dropped off or sent checks to the Church. The safest way to contribute toward the ongoing ministries of Hillsboro First Baptist Church is to mail your check to FBC, P.O. Box 708, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.