From the Pastor’s Study – June 13th, 2020

What is “From the Pastor’s Study?” This will be a (hopefully) weekly newsletter of sorts for the congregation of Mt. Rose, but also for anyone who finds it on our website.

I plan to include brief comments on my sermon or other teaching from the past week, thoughts on issues facing the church, quotes or insights from my weekly study and reading, links to useful articles or resources, reflections on Scripture and the Christian life, and from time to time news about myself or my family that I think may be of interest to others.

So this will be a kind of catch-all blog post, a place for me to note and share whatever I think may be edifying and interesting to read.

By the way, the picture above is not from my study. But I thought it nicely captures the idea of a pastor’s study – a place of prayerful reading and reflection, where sermons and lessons are prepared both from Scripture and from the rich treasury of books that expound, explain, and apply the Word of God.

My real study is half of our master bedroom at home. I have a desk, laptop, and of course a few bookshelves. Here I not only study, but I write emails, talk on the phone, and do the other work of a pastor. But I prefer the word “study” to “office” because I think it better reflects the primary labor of a pastor – to preach and teach the Word of God for the soul-nourishment of God’s people.

So here we go!

Last Lord’s Day, after an 11-week hiatus, the congregation of Mt. Rose met again for worship at the church building. What a blessing to be back together again! And what a blessing to preach again from behind a real pulpit and before a real congregation (or at least half of a real congregation – we had to have two services to keep the number of people in our gathering under 50).

For the occasion I preached on Psalm 84: “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (vs. 1, 2). I made the point that although in Christ we worship God in Spirit and truth, and therefore may worship him anywhere and even with just our families at home if circumstances demand it (as they have), nevertheless God meant for us to worship him together, in the presence of one another, as the Body of Christ. The joy of the Psalmist at the thought of worshiping the Lord at his temple (and so with others), and of being on pilgrimage with fellow Israelites on their way to worship, is an apt expression of the joy we felt at coming together again to give thanks and praise to our Savior Jesus Christ.

As Christians we rejoice in the Lord but we do so in a world suffering the awful consequences of sin. That’s been painfully clear over the past few weeks, as our nation has been convulsed again by conflict over race and justice. How does a Christian respond to this crisis? So much could be said as an answer to that question. But I’m convinced that the place to start (other than prayer) is with empathy. We read in James we’re to be “quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19). We are also to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 14:15).

To that end, here’s an article written by Shai Linne, a Reformed, Christian African-American man (and hip-hop artist). To say the least, his experience living in our society as a black man has been very different from my own.

Before we speak, let’s first listen, and try to understand, what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Johnson

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash