“Taking heed to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made us overseers to care for the church of God which he ordained with his own blood”—a momentous calling for those of us who are elders at Bethlehem!
Notice the individuality of the ministry: “Taking heed to all the flock.” Remember what Jesus said of the good shepherd: “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out” (John 10:3). Sheep in the flock of God are not nameless numbers in a heavenly computer.
Consider this promise from Revelation 2:17, “To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.” Out of all the millions of saints and angels you will be known individually and personally in a way that surpasses all our longings for being cared about and loved.
But we live in a culture whose pace and spirit and technological structure rend relationships and make personal individual caring harder than it has ever been in the history of the world. Is this part of Jesus’ prophecy that in the end times “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12)?
America has more technological, time-saving devices and therefore more leisure than any country in the world. And with all this discretionary time (not spent hauling water or chopping wood or hunting food or building fires or carving tools or walking long distances) we are the most hectic, frenetic, people in the world. With all our freedom we are frantic.
The antidote to this is not to say: let’s play more. Or: let’s plan less. Or: eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. I think the answer is spiritual focus, and deep, deep confidence about what is primary in life. Jesus and Paul worked hard and long. They had a plan for their lives. But they were not impersonal or distant: “We were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children. We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
Please pray especially hard over the next two weeks as the staff gives devoted attention to what it means to “take heed to all the flock.” We will be at a significant seminar May 9-11, and then a staff planning retreat May 15-16. We need your prayers very much for spiritual wisdom for how to be pastors in this kind of culture.
At the quarterly business meeting the church voted to call Remco Brommet for a seven-month Interim Assistant Pastorate and his wife Jennifer as an Interim Minister for Children from when Laurel leaves near the end of May until the end of November or until we call a long term person if that is sooner. We are so thankful for this support and assistance.