Rector's Msg.

ON STEWARDSHIP

 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
 when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2


This last week, the Jones Fire came roaring up the canyon from the Yuba River with power and purpose. Driven by hot winds it seemed intent on heading directly for Grass Valley. In its path it destroyed several houses and structures. One of those, who suffered the loss of a home, is our own Anne Wood. Our prayers, support, and our love go out to her in this time of great upheaval even as we rejoice that she is safe and has a place to live, while she determines what to do next. We also are filled with gratitude for the many firefighters and others who worked tirelessly in hostile conditions to keep us safe. Ultimately, we are thankful for the work of God, which preserved this community. He is the one who caused the winds to die down and the temperatures to drop. Those things were completely beyond our control and they allowed the fire to be contained.


In the passage from the prophet Isaiah there is an amazing statement, “the flame shall not consume you.” Let’s talk about this for a moment. It is my belief that this passage does not guarantee that we are fire proof; rather the context indicates that nothing can take us from the hand of God. The verse before this reads, “but now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” This verse reminds us that God is the one who creates and forms. Not only does He do these majestic works, He also redeems and calls. The process of redemption is necessary, when something has been taken captive. In the biblical history of Israel we see this in the Exile or in the slavery in Egypt. God had to rescue His people. There was a larger rescue that was also going on as a foundation for the Exile, and that was a deliverance from sin, which we see so powerfully picked up in other parts of Isaiah and in the New Testament. God is the one who rescues from sin. These are the hopes, which are spoken of in our passage. There is hope of deliverance from our enemies, deliverance from fire and flood, and in the life of Jesus Christ, deliverance from sin. In this passage God is trying to assure us that, while the world might fall apart around us, and certainly it has for those who have followed Jesus over the ages, they would be held firmly by God and could not be taken from his hand.


This is all good news for us even though it is perhaps not the good news we would like. On most days, in my weakness, I would prefer to have a guarantee that fire or flood would never hurt me, but the reality of God’s promise is so much better. He is telling us that even if it all burns we will never be alone, abandoned, or forgotten, and our eternal hope is secure. We now find ourselves in the mission field of a people who are in fear of losing what they have invested their lives in to accumulate, or have already lost it, perhaps we can commit to be with them and tell them, “you will never be alone, abandoned, or forgotten,” and show them the love of Jesus Christ. What would that mean for our community and the world? I love you all and want you to know, you are not alone, abandoned, or forgotten, for I love and pray for you and so does our Lord Jesus Christ who secures our hope.

In Christ,

~Seth~