Dear Church Family,
In the second half of the nineteenth century, hundreds of thousands of immigrants left their homes around the world to travel to America seeking a better life. But, with not enough jobs to go around, many children were forced to leave their families and fend for themselves. Soon, there were thousands of young orphans living on the streets. They were homeless. No one wanted them. No one cared for them. Their clothes were filthy rags. Each day of their lives was dedicated to one thing: survival. And, due to hunger and disease, many did not survive. They died lonely deaths as orphans, children without a home.
This story from our American history serves as a sobering contemporary parable speaking to the spiritual condition of the human heart. The Bible teaches that every one of us come into this world as spiritual orphans. We are spiritually homeless, seeking a place of belonging that can give meaning and purpose to our lives beyond mere daily survival.
We create systems of meaning for ourselves in our attempt to find a home for our soul. I once saw a bumper sticker that reflects the modern mind-set. It said, “Create your own meaning. Church of the Path.” But, in the end, our human striving to create meaning in our lives leaves us without any answers. It leaves us without hope. In Dante’s epic novel The Divine Comedy, a sign is placed over Hell’s gate which reads: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” The essence of Hell is hopelessness and despair. And there are many who experience Hell on earth.
The Bible declares that the one who lives in Christ no longer lives in darkness about life’s meaning and direction. What does it mean to be a Christian? It means that we no longer have to try to find our way to heaven. We’ve already received the guarantee that we will be there. What is our purpose here on earth? It is to love God and our neighbor and, in Christ, we have begun to live our purpose.
As we enter a New Year, my prayer for our church is that we will continue to grow in our purpose as a congregation: to love God, to love each other, and to love our neighbor. Let each one of us make a commitment to strengthen our church through our participation, contributing to the life of the church in whatever way the Lord leads us. When we give of ourselves, we receive so much in return.
Yours in Christ,