Pastoral Letters, Uncategorized

Pastoral Letter December 2015

Dear Friends,

As in the past, this month’s ‘letter’ is from Pastor C.H. Spurgeon. A very happy Christmas to everyone! — Jonathan

IT IS SUPERSTITIOUS to worship angels; it is but proper to love them. The one incident in angelic history, to which our text refers, is enough to weld our hearts to them for ever. How free from envy the angels were! Christ did not come from heaven to save their compeers when they fell. When Satan, the mighty angel, dragged with him a third part of the stars of heaven, Christ did not stoop from his throne to die for them. Yet angels did not envy men. Though they remembered that he took not up angels, yet they did not murmur when he took up the seed of Abraham; and though the blessed Master had never condescended to take the angel’s form, they did not think it beneath them to express their joy when they found him arrayed in the body of an infant. 
How free, too, they were from pride! They were not ashamed to come and tell the news to humble shepherds. Mere men — men possessed with pride, think it a fine thing to preach before kings and princes; and think it great condescension now and then to have to minister to the humble crowd. Not so the angels. They stretched their willing wings, and gladly sped from their bright seats above, to tell the shepherds on the plain by night, the marvellous story of an Incarnate God. And mark how well they told the story, and surely you will love them!

Friends, does not this verse, this song of angels, stir your heart with happiness? When I read that, and found the angels singing it, I thought to myself, “Then if the angels ushered in the gospel’s great head with singing, ought I not to preach with singing? And ought not my hearers to live with singing? Ought not their hearts to be glad and their spirits to rejoice?” Well, thought I, there be some somber religionists who were born in a dark night in December that think a smile upon the face is wicked, and believe that for a Christian to be glad and rejoice is to be inconsistent. Ah! I wish these gentlemen had seen the angels when they sang about Christ; for angels sang about his birth, though it was no concern of theirs, certainly men ought to sing about it as long as they live, sing about it when they die, and sing about it when they live in heaven for ever. I do long to see in the midst of the church more of a singing Christianity. The last few years have been breeding in our midst a groaning and unbelieving Christianity. Now, I doubt not its sincerity, but I do doubt its healthy character. I say it may be true and real enough; God forbid I should say a word against the sincerity of those who practice it; but it is a sickly religion. Watts hit the mark when he said,

“Religion never was designed — To make our pleasures less.”

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter October 2013

Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I shall return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

 – Genesis 18.14

Dear Friends,

On Sunday mornings we are considering some of the major events and passages in the book of Genesis in an overview, which means that we have some other texts to come back to! Here is the Angel of the Lord speaking to Abraham about God’s promise that he will have a natural son and heir.

Sarah laughs, because she does not believe that it is possible to have a child any longer. The laugh is cynical and perhaps even contemptuous. But as we know, she gives birth to Isaac in due time, and then we read that she says:

‘God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me’ (Ch 21 v6). This is, of course, different laughter. Now she is filled with joy at the goodness of God in granting her most heartfelt longing.  What should we take from this?

Perhaps there are many lessons we could draw, but I would make a plea to you to guard yourselves against cynicism. We seek to serve the Lord in difficult times. In days when high and holy things are disdained, when the gospel is openly reviled and rejected. We can readily become disillusioned, cynical, and hardened. When nothing happens, we shrug our shoulders and move on, because we didn’t expect anything to happen in the first place. When pews are empty, when conversions are rare, when baptisms are not seen, we just allow ourselves that cynical inward ‘laugh’ and we grow hard and indifferent.

We often do this to protect ourselves from disappointment. But disappointment is a good thing! The well-known preacher Charles Spurgeon once asked a young preacher who was not seeing any conversions if he expected to see any. When the response came back in the negative, Spurgeon believed that he had pinpointed the problem. We should be disappointed, but not downcast, that our attempts at evangelism have yielded small results so far.

But we should ask ourselves the question every single day: Is anything too hard for the Lord? The answer never changes! Let us trust Him for every need in our own lives, and for the great work of the gospel. If we won’t give in to cynical laughter, we will have cause for joyful laughter in the coming days!