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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, December 4, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 23:3–4

Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord. (NRSV)

Today’s scripture passage reminds me of one of my favorite worship services at Fourth Church: the introduction of new members. Although the modern-day circumstances are much different than those early biblical times, what is described in each case is a gathering of God’s people.

On New Member Sunday at Fourth Church, before the service in the sanctuary, the proposed new members meet together with the Session and each candidate is asked to describe the journey that led them to Fourth Church. Some come from elsewhere in the USA, others from countries all over the world. Some have a Christian background, but there also are people of other religious faiths or with no religion previously in their lives. Their reasons for joining also are varied: to get married, baptism for themselves or their children, transfer from another church. Whatever their origin or reason, the telling of their stories is delightful and inspiring to witness. But they all are seeking the same thing: a place to call their church home, a gathering of God’s people, just as in Jeremiah’s time.

In his sermon on November 21, 2010, Adam Fronczek, former Associate Pastor at Fourth Church, summed up today’s passage quite well: “What I see in Jeremiah’s story is a people who want more than anything to have someone to follow and something to believe in that will not let them down; God gives them a promise, and we are called to pass it on. We need you to pass it on.”

May it ever be.

“The Lord is near unto all who call upon him, unto all who call upon him in truth.” Dear Lord, we thank you for the gift of community that draws all of us together and gives us the assurance that you are always with us and will never let us down. Amen.

Written by Barlow Nelson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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