As Shepherds watched their flocks...
In the Manger
The Three Wise Men
Rye Congregational Church
Celebrating God’s Love ~ In the Heart of Rye Since 1726
Promoting Christian growth and fellowship in a politics-free zone.
Biblical • Traditional • Independent
Click here for recordings of Rev. Lavoie’s Sunday sermons and to hear Children’s Bible Stories, narrated by Rev. Lavoie.
Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
“God helps those who help themselves”, so said Algernon Sidney, 17th century English Whig member of Parliament and hero to early American proponents of free speech. I’ve always heard the expression, from Mom, from teachers, and from coaches, and have always found good motivation in it, but I always thought it was coined by Benjamin Franklin – it sounds like something he would have said. There’s another expression I have found which also provides good motivation, and this one is from the Bible: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. Both touch on a common theme – God helps us in our time of need, but expects us to put forth the effort. The world, it seems, is set up for a cooperative venture with God, bringing forth discovery and accomplishment and a fulfilling partnership.
As with any workable partnership, each side does what the other cannot do and each side appreciates what the other does as they share in every accomplishment and, what becomes more and more important over time, each shares in the joy of the process and journey itself – working together for a common purpose, whether in team sports, a career, raising a family, or sharing life together in a Church – a family of faith. Challenges are not viewed as obstacles, but as opportunities to rise and deploy gifts and abilities uncalled upon in easier times. Challenges are the hammers forging our steel against the anvils of our faith and character, and bringing forth implements that magnify our abilities over a myriad of tasks and endeavors.
This viral pandemic has been such a hammer. I have felt it beat upon me at times and, like many of us, feel somewhat reshaped overall – a little rounder, perhaps, but stronger in many ways as well. I have especially seen it in action at Rye Congregational Church. We have risen to the challenge, coped with the difficulties, devised new ways of doing things, and thrived by the grace of God Who helps those who help themselves and Who is found by those who seek Him. Many words come to mind, but foremost in my thoughts today is a seldom used adjective: “Indelible.” Whatever else comes of this unusual time and these unusual circumstances, we will never forget it, nor will we ever forget how we worked together and found new ways, new friends, new strength, and new insights into human character and into our loving God Who works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.
It has been the best and the worst of times. We have felt a renewed appreciation for healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, cashiers, truck drivers, teachers, first responders, and one another in every walk of life. We have seen the best in mankind rise up to love and serve. And we have also seen the worst in forms of violence, hatred, lying, clamoring for power, despotism, anarchy, and selfishness of every kind. We have watched our public discourse descend into new depths of depraved half-truths and threats. Most, like myself, have often felt the need to turn off the news for fear of spending yet another sleepless night of anxiety. The shelter and solace of prayer have been a Godsend at such times, and the journey of discovery and friendship in Bible study has been a joy to cover a multitude of wounds. Here in Rye, and especially at Rye Congregational Church, our love for God and one another goes on undiminished because, as we have all newly discovered in full truth, not half, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome, because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” I John 4:4
In God’s Love,
Pastor Ron Lavoie
(The Preacher in the Rye)
Rye Congregational Church