Our next worship gathering is Sunday February 10 at 6:45pm in the St. Johns Room at FCC (3450 CR210, 32259).
When we started LoveFirst Coast five years ago, none of us knew how things would unfold. But we all agreed that it was worth trying. If nothing else, our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus has grown wonderfully in that time. Thank you for being on this journey!
Over this time, I think we’ve learned something of the heart of Christ, of his sorrow and his joy. We know something of the sorrow of Christ, because we have gained some insight about God’s Kingdom, and how things would be different if it was more fully realized here now – and yet we live in the reality that God’s Kingdom is not yet here. Our hearts break for people we love who are struggling. Our hope is strained when missional efforts are frustrated. And our faith is tested when people we’ve prayed for and reached out to walk away.
We’ve experienced that. So did Jesus.
But we also know something of the joy of Christ. We’ve had the privilege of seeing God’s Kingdom advance. Through prayer, through giving encouragement, through acts of generosity, through hands on service, we have seen it and had the privilege of being a part of what God is doing, too. God has provided hope for the hurting, encouragement for the discouraged, comfort for the grieving, community for the lonely, healing for the sick, deliverance of the captives, relief for the distressed, concern for the orphan, the widow, the alien. I can say that because you have told me so. And some of these things, God has done through us. It has been very good.
So how are things at LoveFirst Coast? The size and scope of our community hasn’t changed much. The core has stuck together. And thanks again! But there isn’t much to report in terms of a movement of mission and discipleship on the First Coast beyond hints and teasers that God is involving us in something bigger than ourselves. That’s one of the things we’ve been praying for over the last five years. But where is it? And what do we do now?
In times like this, I like to turn to the scripture. We are not the first people who’ve wondered what God was up to and when God was going to break through. We have something in common with the Colossian church, and perhaps every church. They were a relatively young church and things were going well. They also had a sense of God’s Kingdom breaking in. But things were not going as they had expected. As Isaiah says, God’s ways are not our ways. What do we do when our reality doesn’t match expectations? Maybe, in humility, we should just relax a bit. It’s great to make plans, but God’s plans for us are different, and better. Still, the tension and the waiting can be a bit of a challenge.
In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul prays for the people to “be strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might” in order that they would “have great endurance and patience.” The Greek word for “great endurance” can also be translated “persevere.” Paul prayed that they would hang in there. That they would keep on keeping on. That they would stick with it. And I think this is our time to stick with it, too, to persevere with patience.
So what is God calling us to do while we “persevere with patience”? Speaking for myself, I have sensed the Lord inviting me out of my role at Sawgrass Chapel to better focus on LoveFirst Coast. (My last Sunday there is March 31.) If you are engaged in mission or trying to start one, I will try to connect with you regularly in the year ahead to encourage and pray for you. How you respond to God’s call is so important to me. I want to do whatever I can to help you. Additionally, Heather and I will begin serving our immediate neighbors, working at building community here. We believe God wants our neighborhood to be more like heaven.
How is the Lord leading you?
We will keep gathering for worship – usually on 2nd Sundays. That gathering will be focused on encouraging and equipping those who are living life on mission. I hope we’ll be gathering at other times, too. And I look forward to our times ahead, worshiping the Lord, bearing one another’s burdens, encouraging one another, stirring up one another to love and good deeds, praying for God’s will to be done and for God’s Kingdom to come until Christ comes or until God’s Kingdom is revealed in every square inch of our city.
You go nowhere by accident!
God is good!