From the Pastor’s Desk -September 2016

So passing by Mysia, they went to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  (Acts 16:8-9)

I spent a month in the location of ancient Macedonia while on NATO military exercises when I was in the Army years ago.  I sometimes wonder if my feet touched the very sand Paul’s did 2000 years ago.  Maybe I’ll have the chance to ask him in heaven.

I preached a sermon on the “Macedonian call” a couple of weeks ago.  It is a text that is often used in the context of a call to the mission field.  And why not?  It was certainly God’s way of calling Paul to a new field.

We typically associate missions with going to a different country where people have never heard the gospel.  That is certainly the call of the church.  My grandparents answered that call when they went to China almost a hundred years ago, and another ancestor ninety years before him.  And Grace Church has always supported missionaries since our very beginning, even committing ourselves to Ralph and Polly Brown to Pakistan even before the church called our first pastor.  Since then we have had missionaries in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe.  We look forward to seeing the Schmidts, who have been in Japan for over twenty-five years, in just a few weeks.  We love to hear firsthand what God is doing around the world, and If I had my way, our missions budget would be ten times the size it is now.

But what if that “Macedonian call” comes from closer to home as well?

Charleen and I took a week of vacation in Quebec City a couple of weeks ago.  We had a wonderful time  relaxing.  Quebec City is only seven hours away by car.  Quebec is largely Roman Catholic by tradition, but that commitment is very nominal.  It is really quite secularized.  A former student from the seminary which I attended (Westminster) has been involved in a church planting ministry there for the past seventeen years.  Charleen and I were privileged to worship with them while there.  He and his wife left Ontario when they heard the “Macedonian call” to serve in Quebec.

We had Bob and Jeannie Hall visit us a year ago.  Bob heard the “Macedonian call” to the Bronx in New York City over forty years ago.  They have recently started a Christian school (Hope Academy) that meets in their church building.  Bronx, and Quebec City are all within driving distance for anyone who would like to see firsthand what God is doing there.

Not long ago I heard that Pittsfield, MA was ranked number five in the nation for opiate addiction.  I knew it was serious, but I didn’t know it was that bad.  Most of us don’t see it although its effects are becoming more noticeable.  Could it be that this is a “Macedonian call”?  This is why I believe that our addictions ministry is so important for us as a church.   I feel the same way about the jail ministry.  Perhaps we can hear the “Macedonian Call” in our places of work.  Perhaps from our own neighbors.

We may not actually hear people say, “come over and help us.”  Then again, maybe they will.  But then the vision Paul received came not from a man but from God.  What I do believe is that we as a church are at a crucial juncture in our community.

God might call us to another location in the world or he might leave us right where we are.  Do we have a vision from God?  And do we hear the “Macedonian call”?

Pastor Tom Bridgman


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Grace Church Congregational

1055 Williams Street

Pittsfield, MA 01201