A friend shared with me this week about how the Lord sometimes retraces sorrowful paths in our lives and brings new meaning to them, if we let Him.
The men who walked the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus on Resurrection Sunday were distressed and downcast. After encountering the Lord, they returned along the same path back to Jerusalem, only this time with great joy ! (See Luke 24:13-35.) In our own lives, too, Jesus is able to redeem sorrows and exchange them for eternal joy.
The book of Ruth is all about redemption. When Boaz, one of the great men of Bethlehem, relates to Ruth how her sorrowful experiences (famine ; loss of a husband and other family members ; leaving her home country ; caring for her mother-in-law in a time of need) had been reported to the people of Bethlehem as a bright and shining witness, he, in essence, retraces that painful period of her life and assigns new meaning and joy to it. “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people you did not previously know” (Ruth 2:11).
Ruth had loved powerfully during a time of loss. In addition, she had become a follower of the one true God ! In a time of sorrow for her, spiritual life had begun ! The experience was the talk of the town in Bethlehem !
A line from a book by Elisabeth Elliot says, in effect, that the purpose of God for our lives is to “make us fit to live with Him.” That’s what redemption is — God taking all of your life (the good and bad), buying it back as His own, then using it in such a way to fit you for life in … heaven ! With time, He retraces the paths of our lives, changing the sorrowful ones into joy.
This Sunday morning we’ll continue our Advent sermon series in Ruth with its theme of redemption. We’ll meet the “redeemer,” Boaz, for the first time and see how he is such a tremendous picture of what Jesus is really like ! I hope you’ll be there for what could be a life-changing time of worship.
A few reminders of what’s coming up …
Congregational Meeting this Sunday immediately following worship.
Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting. If you are a voting member at Emmanuel, we especially need your presence at the meeting or — if you’re unable to attend — an absentee ballot with a “yes” or “no” vote on the proposed 2015 church budget. The agenda for the meeting will include announcement of candidates for church offices ; an explanation of the pastoral search process ; a vote on the proposed budget ; and a final presentation of the changes proposed for the church by-laws.
Christmas Eve Open House.
The church will be open for worship, visiting, and cookies on December 24, from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. We’ll worship through song and the reading of Scripture at 10:30, 1:00, and 4:30. Please sign up at the church if you would like to read a short portion of Scripture, or if you can bring some Christmas cookies. Thank you !
Congregational Meeting & Volunteer Appreciation Day, January 4.
January 4 will be a special Sunday. We will worship together in a Concert of Prayer ; then, immediately following worship we will have a meeting to elect church officers for 2015. Finally, we will enjoy a catered meal together and a special time of recognition of … you ! We will honor all who have served the church in 2013 and will hear how God has used our service to Him. Hope you’ll be there !
101 Adult Course, “Discovering Christ & the Church”
The 101 course for adults will be held on Sunday mornings at 9:00 in January, beginning January 4. I would love to have you be a part of the class ! This is our membership class, although if you attend the class you are not obligated to become a member at Emmanuel. We have important decisions coming up at Emmanuel, so we encourage you to take ownership of the church and its decisions by becoming a voting member.
Did you know Sticky Group Discussion Questions are now available on the church website ? … and that the church website address has changed (only slightly) ? The new address is www.hermannefree.org, although if you accidentally use the .com address, you will still end up on the new website. Thanks to Lee Pettijohn for his help in making our website more and more attractive and useful !
There are lots of good things going on at Emmanuel ! In particular, we had a positive, unifying Staff Meeting this past Monday, and our new men’s Sunday night study group was a time of spiritual fellowship and relationship-building among men. A blessing to me personally and to others who participated. Let’s thank the Lord, keep praying, be patient, and watch for the Lord to act !
See you Sunday ! Sermon from Ruth 2, “Ruth’s Redeemer.”