Peace, Hope, Joy and Promise
I just completed a four-session bible study with Pastor Mark that focused on passages from the book of Isaiah. These verses deal directly with the four keywords in the title above. As I reflect on the messages from this study I see the parallels to the experiences we in our worshipping community at St. Stephen’s are now experiencing.
In the bible, Isaiah prophesizes a time when the people of Jerusalem and of Judah will be at peace. ”They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” Our congregation is united in its long-held mission To Love, To Invite, and To Serve. The widespread efforts by so many members and friends of the congregation to achieve our mission continue to be evident and effective.
Isaiah prophesizes a time of hope when “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” With the progress our strong and dedicated call committee is making, we have hope that we will welcome a new pastor in 2023 who will live into their call to help us thrive and grow.
Isaiah prophesizes a time of joy when “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.” I experience the comfort and joy of being with this community of faith each Sunday both in worship and in fellowship. The bonds I have made over the years with others here are very important to me and are why St. Stephen’s is so much more than a church to me.
Isaiah prophesizes a time of promise. “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Of course, this is the promise of Jesus that was written at least 700 years before his birth. The promise to us is much closer: through our faith in God and through the dedication of our members we, as a congregation, will reach new heights in our service to Him.