From the Pastor’s Desk-April 2016

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  (Acts 1:6-8)

This was the question the new believers asked of Jesus, and Jesus’ response to them on the day of his ascension.  They had witnessed his crucifixion.   They were now standing face to face with the risen Christ.  This was not everyday stuff.  They had great expectations.  Yet it appears their vision still fell short.  Jesus’ response to them was, “Wrong question”.  They were thinking, “localized kingdom”.  Jesus was saying, “GLOBAL KINGDOM.”  They were thinking, “small”.  Jesus was saying, “BIG”.    How often our expectations are defined by our experiences or what we deem to be possible when God has something entirely different in view.

It is easy to get discouraged and expect the worst.  If that is true for you, how much more for me since both my livelihood and my reputation depend on the “success” of Grace Church.  Yet the more I pray about it, the more I realize that there is more at stake here.  And we are forgetting that God may indeed have much bigger purposes than we do.

Besides that, think of what we do have.  In practical terms, we are worshipping in a building that is more than suitable.  No leaky roof.  No broken windows.  A heating system that works most of the time and men who know how to repair it when need be.  (Thanks Tom and Toby.)  We’ve got musicians who know how to play (Betty, Tim, Jeffrey).  We are sitting on a sizable piece of property and don’t have a mortgage to pay.  I could go on and on.  Sometimes I forget to be thankful.  How about you?  We also have some very dedicated people, including our Elders who meet with me for hours on end almost every week.

I think one of the big things we are dealing with right now has to do with our expectations.  Just like the early disciples who had gathered around Jesus before he departed from them, we are thinking of smaller things and Jesus is thinking of bigger things.

We will be having a meeting after worship on April 17.  We will gather together for a meal and fellowship together, and then we will put our heads together to do some visioning about what God is calling us to do as Grace Church.  I (actually the Elders and I) have passed out a questionnaire in our bulletin in preparation for this to get us thinking.  I am listing them below, and we want you to give some prayerful consideration to these things and come prepared to participate in this discussion:

Why do you go to church?

Why do you want others to go to church?

What do you encounter when you go to church generally?   spiritually?

Do you encounter a challenge?  Do you encounter encouragement?

Then List two or three things that would help us as a church fulfill our threefold mission of worship, nurture, and witness.

Not only do we have all the blessings listed above, but we have the gospel.  What more could we want?  Along with that we have the great commission.  Isaiah wrote over 700 years before the birth of Christ, Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.  (55:4)

So what do we expect?

Pastor Tom  Bridgman




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Grace Church Congregational

1055 Williams Street

Pittsfield, MA 01201