Sunday, March 22
The Lord’s Day
Minute for Mission: The Outreach Foundation
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Tim. 1:7 NLT)
A cup of coffee shared together on a sunny January afternoon in an outdoor cafe is not all that remarkable—unless you happen to be doing it in Damascus with the sound of artillery rounds ringing in your ears. Julie Burgess, from Omaha’s West Hills Church, Rev. Marshall Zieman, trustee of the Outreach Foundation, and I had ventured to Syria at the invitation of PC(USA) partner the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.
Our journey had begun a week earlier, in Lebanon, just north of Beirut, where we consulted with synod leadership for four days. Seven of the 10 pastors serving in Syria were with us, and their stories were powerful. They spoke of serving in towns temporarily secured by the army but surrounded by hostile insurgencies; of visiting members who have had to flee their city and are now hunkered down in obscure mountain villages.
Our friends and the families there credited us with a great deal of bravery for making the journey. I told them that they made us brave, carrying on, as they do, and honoring the call to the church to be salt and light: loving, seeking reconciliation, and bearing one another’s burdens. We needed to be brave for three days. They are required to live bravely day in and day out. But, then again, God did not give any of us a spirit of fear and timidity, right?
Let us pray
Father, may we, empowered by the Spirit, follow the example of your Son, whose incarnation brought healing, wholeness, and redemption. Be present to your church in difficult places as we witness to the good news until “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” In Christ’s name. Amen.
Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“God of Compassion,
in Mercy Befriend Us”
GTG 436, HB 122, PH 261
“Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God”
“Have Mercy on Us, Living Lord”
“Come, Thou Almighty King”
GTG 2, HB 244, PH 139
“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”
GTG 216, HB 190, PH 92