Our new Generosity Chairman, Brandon Tucker hit the nail on the head when he selected the generosity theme for 2018: “Keep the Course!”
2000 years ago that was also the theme of John the Baptist as he waited for the coming of Jesus: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Luke 3:4) … in other words, “Keep the Course!” until the Lord comes.
We celebrate Jesus’ “coming” during the season of Advent (from the latin ad venire “to come”). John the Baptist’s image of a “straight course” is taken from Isaiah 40:3. The prophet Isaiah opens that chapter with the words “comfort ye, comfort ye my people.” But why the need for comfort? Why the need to “Keep the Course?”
Both John the Baptist and Isaiah wrote during times of transition for the People of God. Isaiah wrote when the walls of Jerusalem were tumbling down and the armies of Babylon were sweeping away the old way of life for the Jewish people. An old age was leaving. A new age was beginning. But the Lord was on the way. Jesus was coming.
John the Baptist wrote when the walls of Jerusalem were occupied by Roman soldiers and the Jewish people lived in hardship and poverty. An old age was leaving. A new age was beginning. But the Lord was on the way. Jesus was coming.
And in these times of transition – the prophets said “Comfort Ye! Make straight a path!” In other words, “Don’t panic! Get ready!” Keep the Course. Jesus is coming.
2018 brings our own period of transition at Covenant Presbyterian. Hal will retire in August after 31 distinguished years as Senior Pastor. In January you will vote on the possibility of my succeeding Hal and our presbytery will vote in February. Change is in the wind. An old age is leaving. A new age is beginning.
But in these times of change we hear the words of the prophets: “Don’t panic! Keep the Course! Jesus is coming!”
The wonderful news is that Jesus did come 2000 years ago to fulfill the prophecies of John the Baptist and Isaiah. He lived for us and died for us and rose for us. He set us free from sin and death.
We really don’t have anything to fear.. There’s no reason to panic. We need not fear even death itself. What greater comfort could we have?
And the wonderful news is that when our own paths seem hopelessly crooked, when we veer off course and seem utterly lost, Jesus made our way straight through his own faithfulness on the cross. And he sends us his Holy Spirit to empower us for the journey ahead, to guide others to join us and to make straight our paths as we lean on him (Proverbs 3:5-6).
We really can “Keep the Course!” Not by our own power – but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am so honored to be your servant here at Covenant Presbyterian. As I pray for us – I feel so excited! I feel like Jesus is setting a straight course for us to travel next year. I feel like he is filling our sails with the wind of the Holy Spirit to propel us down that path. And I feel him binding us together as his crew to serve Madison County in his name.
There’s no other crew I’d rather sail with. And Jesus – our captain – is coming!