A Letter from Pr. Jon-Marc MacLean
In this past week’s scripture lesson, we heard again about the call of God in Abram’s life. He was called to leave the place of his birth and his culture and to trust in the providence of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit to guide him in his life.
Remember that this is a God he did not know, with no proof of what was to come, but simply a set of promises. Abram took that first step in faith, and then another and still more steps. Some of these steps were faltering or backwards. Some led him on a detour which led him off the path set by God, but the grace of the Lord brought him back on track and took even those wayward steps and turned them into a journey of transformation and spiritual growth. In the end, Abram and Sarai where transformed in many ways. They became parents in their dotage, settled into a new land, and saw the first shoots of new life for people (later a nation) the Lord had promised to begin through them. God’s word of blessing was made real in their lives and they were transformed, even in their names, becoming Abraham and Sarah. But the true blessing that was to come, which their faithfulness connected them with, was the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Transitions are not easy. Some are wonderful, some are painful, and most are (at the very least) inconvenient on some level. We’d all love the security of a “sure thing” guarantee before we ventured into something new, but that is a rare thing indeed. But what we CAN be sure of is that God is with us. As the Hebrew people prepared to enter the land promised in the covenant, the Lord told Moses, “be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them (the enemies in the land), because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). Remember that it was fear of these enemies that kept them from entering the land originally and the years of wandering that followed. We are reminded again of the promise of God’s presence in the person of Jesus when he states, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mttw. 28:20).
Trusting in God’s providence and guidance are crucial components of living a healthy, vibrant, and fruitful life of faith. Last weekend, our congregation voted overwhelmingly to call Pastor Rani Abdulmasih as an Associate Pastor. Pastor Rani has lived a life guided by the Holy Spirit. It informed his early years as a Roman Catholic in Jerusalem, led him to study chemistry at St. Bonaventure University in New York, spoke to him of the grace of God in a new and transforming way through the Lutheran church, and called him into the ordained ministry as a pastor. He has served faithfully as a pastor of a congregation and as a mission developer of two different congregations in Michigan and was fulfilled in doing so but was also listening for the movement of the Spirit in his life. The whisper of the Spirit that led him to be open to the potential of a new call and he opened himself up to whatever that might mean. Several congregations were in dialogue with him about serving them as their pastor, but it was at Hope that he felt the Spirit stir in his soul and the affirmation of the call team and the council moved us forward to last week.
Just as we heard about Abram taking that first step in faith, so the people of Hope and the Abdulmasih family are now stepping forward in faith together. We look forward to where the Spirit will lead us and what God has in store for all of us. For the Abdulmasih family, it has meant leaving a community of faith and friends to come to this area. For us, it means making space in our hearts and lives for them to have a place where they are received with joy and hope. We move forward in faith, trusting that the Spirit will guide and empower us to be the individuals and community we are called to be in this place, in this season, and in this transition.
With hope and joy,