Dear Church Family:
I want to express my deep gratitude to all those who had a hand in putting on last Sunday’s Denman Award dinner, and to all who participated to make it a memorable day for me and my family. I am still enjoying the spaghetti and meatballs!
In my short time at Pender, I have experienced your great gifts of hospitality that have been extended to me and to many others inside the church and out. On Tuesday, missionaries Fred and Mabel Amoah-Darkoh were warmly welcomed with another scrumptious meal along with warm Pender hearts and minds eager to hear of their work for Christ in Ghana, Africa and beyond. Our Reaching New People, Impact Youth, Young Adult, and Fun with Music ministries are in the process of creatively reaching out and inviting people of different ages also to experience the loving fellowship of Jesus’ disciples here at Pender. As you know, these new efforts build on a long history of ministries of evangelism and compassion that create open doors for us to go forth and others to feel welcome, and in many ways to connect with those who need to know the redeeming love of Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
This week’s terror attacks in Israel, and the angry and contentious reactions in our own country, have been a painful reminder of the hostility that is all too common in our world. We are tempted to turn away in despair. Yet, fully aware of the world’s misery and the church’s weakness, Paul wrote to the conflicted congregation at Corinth (5:18-20a): “God…reconciled himself to us through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us…” To be a vital and fruitful church is to embrace the ministry of reconciliation that the Lord of the church has entrusted to Jesus’ disciples who have experienced for themselves God’s reconciling love in Christ. Paul is telling us that God’s appeal to “be reconciled to God” begins with the Spirit’s work in us and then extends through us to appeal to our neighbors. One of the most effective ways by which others begin to hear the appeal is through the grace of hospitality, as Jesus’ disciples welcome into our fellowship those whom we once knew only as strangers, as those who Christ died to redeem and reconcile to the heavenly Father. By God’s rich mercies at work in us and among us, and offered to the world through us, sometimes even enemies are made friends, friends in Christ.
As we watch the painful events unfold in the middle east, we pray for God’s justice and peace. Let us also heed our Lord’s call to open our hearts and minds, and even our tables, to those in our community who need to hear the appeal to be reconciled to God and to each other. Let us by our hospitality become ever more faithful ambassadors for Christ.