Tim, Rob and I were meeting today and reflecting on the shootings in the community of Newtown, Connecticut. Devastating. Overwhelming. We also talked about our church body which is filled with many children, parents, and grandparents. All of us ache. We also know that our church loves our own community with a large heart and that our compassion extends to the community of Newtown and especially to Sandy Hook Elementary.
We decided that I should write a letter on behalf of our church body to send to the people of Newtown as they grieve and seek hope and healing. They will receive many such expressions of love, but we want ours to be among them. The letter is below. It is written knowing it reflects your heart.
To the community of Newtown,
On behalf of Grace Fellowship Church, I offer you our sincere sympathy and profound respect. We live, work, and play in a town in East Tennessee called Johnson City, not unlike your own I am sure. Many of us are parents, children, grandparents and teachers. Some of us have also buried our children.
I understand from experience that in grief, “Nothing helps and everything helps.” As you grieve your massive loss in the midst of an outpouring of support from so many, we hope this simple letter will somehow contribute to your journey of healing.
Our Lord Jesus was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3 He was violently killed even though “He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” Isaiah 53:9 May His grace and love surround you.
Tom Oyler, Lead Pastor
We will mail the letter this week. Thank you for inspiring it by your compassion and care for one another and our community.
We look forward to celebrating our Lord’s birth this Sunday at 9:45, 11:30, and 5:00. How wonderful. See you there.
Grace and peace,
"Good News...in the Midst of Fear" Luke 2:8-20
No one likes to live in fear, and yet there are all kinds of things we tend to be afraid of. The good news about Jesus starts with three wonderful words: “Do not fear.” The news penetrates to the depths of our fears and transforms them into something much greater - something so good it must be shared.
THINKING IT THROUGH
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.
By the light of nature we see God as a God above us, by the light of the law we see Him as a God against us, but by the light of the gospel we see Him as Emmanuel, God with us.
The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.
WORKING IT OUT
1. Spend some time thinking about how the good news of Jesus has transformed fear into praise in your life. Fill in the blanks of this sentence: Before, I was afraid of _______, but now I praise Him for _______.
2. Write out the names of five people you know who do not know Christ. Begin to pray for them regularly.
3. What is one way that you can engage in others’ lives this season to offer them a tangible taste of the Kingdom of God?
"Relief...in the Midst of Weariness" Matthew 11:28-30
Is there a better description of how many people feel during and after Christmas than “weary”? Not all of course, but for a variety of reasons, we feel the impact as something that drains us. Life is the same way. It can be exhausting– again for many reasons. What would you say if one of the things you could get from Christmas is Relief? Check out the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30.
LOOKING IT UP
1. Read these three verses aloud several times. What are some of your initial thoughts, questions, reactions?
2. What commands do you find in the verses?
How are they similar or different? Contemplate carefully.
3. What promises can you find?
How are they similar or different?
4. What do you pick up about who Jesus is and what He is like?
5. Where do you see yourself in the “picture” and what are you doing?
Posted on Tue, December 18, 2012
by Tom Oyler