Aug 14, 2023
Beloved in Christ,
This morning, as the sun's gentle rays pierced through the curtain of a new day, my heart awakened with an overwhelming awareness of the profound necessity of prayer. Yesterday, dear congregants, was a day of challenges, a day when the weight of our shared hurts and trials bore heavily upon me. The Lord's Day unfolded with a tapestry of pain within our congregation, where many souls were carrying the burdens of suffering and seeking solace.
The local Church, dear friends, is a haven for the wounded; it is a place of restoration for the shattered. Especially on the Lord's Day, it stands as an emergency room for those ensnared in despair, those waging a fierce battle against hopelessness.
Before the sacred service commenced, I stood on the threshold between the earthly realm and the divine, witnessing a stream of hurting and broken individuals, each longing for prayer and a touch from the divine Word. Ordinarily, I retreat early into my study on the Lord's Day, immersing myself in fervent prayers for the sermon that will be shared and for the ears that will receive it. I labor to etch every word deeply into the recesses of my heart and soul. Yet, on this yesterday, the Lord's rhythm diverged; He gently directed me towards the company of those among us who are wrestling with faith, grappling with hope, and clinging steadfastly to the guiding lights of Scripture. There I found myself, simply sitting, sharing their burdens, and embracing their tears.
In the embrace of yesterday's moments, the Lord gently reminded me that pastors, at their core, are akin to nurses. Consider the nurses, tasked with gathering insights, piecing together fragments of information, and then conveying this understanding to the healing hands of a practitioner. Likewise, the pastor's mission resides in attentive listening, receiving the joys, cries, and laments of the saints, and carrying them with unyielding dedication to the Lord through earnest, fervent prayer. In essence, the shepherd's paramount duty is to intercede for the flock.
Indeed, it is a wonder how God, in His boundless wisdom, forges a connection between the life trials of His cherished people and the very hearts of His ministers. I pondered this truth as I welcomed, one by one, the troubled souls who sought entrance into my study, craving not just prayer but a loving sanctuary. The local Church, dear friends, is a haven for the wounded; it is a place of restoration for the shattered. Especially on the Lord's Day, it stands as an emergency room for those ensnared in despair, those waging a fierce battle against hopelessness. In the embrace of yesterday's moments, the Lord gently reminded me that pastors, at their core, are akin to nurses. Consider the nurses, tasked with gathering insights, piecing together fragments of information, and then conveying this understanding to the healing hands of a practitioner. Likewise, the pastor's mission resides in attentive listening, receiving the joys, cries, and laments of the saints, and carrying them with unyielding dedication to the Lord through earnest, fervent prayer. In essence, the shepherd's paramount duty is to intercede for the flock.
These reflections brought me back to the sacred verses of Acts 6:4,
"But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
It became ever clearer that a pastor's essence lies in laying the wounds of God's flock before the Divine Physician, the masterful Surgeon, who with unwavering might and divine skill can mend, heal, and restore even the deepest, most agonizing wounds of His sheep. No wound, however profound, no pain, however unrelenting, can withstand the transformative power of our Savior, Jesus, the Master Surgeon of souls (Mark 2:13-17, Matthew 11:28-30). It is my humble calling, as an under-shepherd, to guide the afflicted and wounded towards the sanctuary of Christ, to hasten them to the operating room where His healing touch reigns supreme, where His wisdom guides the course of restoration.
And as I clasped a dear brother, offering the tender embrace of Christ in a time of need, I was struck by a realization that coursed through my heart like a soothing stream - in tending to others, in ushering them towards Christ's compassionate arms, I myself was being drawn into His presence. His love, like a healing balm, enveloped us both, nursing our souls and lifting our spirits.
In transparency, as I stepped up to deliver yesterday's sermon, my mind was consumed not by the words I was to share, but by the silent cries of the Lord's wounded sheep. Lost within my own message, my heart beat in resonance with the desire to craft each utterance in such a way that it would resonate with those in pain, that it would guide the hesitant and fearful to find their unwavering confidence in our conquering King. As I spoke, my words were woven together with prayer, and my plea mirrored the very passage that flowed from my lips:
"Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."
And now, as another day dawns, I find myself engaging in the sacred tradition of Monday prayers. These prayers, dear brothers and sisters, are not just for my own soul's welfare, but for the souls that joined us in worship on the Lord's Day. My supplication echoes forth:
"Lord, I beseech You, grant that Your flock might have glimpsed You yesterday. May our Church, by the gracious work of Your Spirit, come to rest in You, Christ, the One who lived, suffered, triumphed over death, and now sits at the right hand of God as an advocate for His beloved. May Your embrace bring healing, respite, peace, and restoration to those who seek. O Heavenly Father, remove every veil that obstructs the radiant beauty and glory of Your beloved Son, Jesus. In the resplendent name of Christ, we offer this prayer. Amen."
Would you, dear ones, stand with me today in fervent supplication for those among us who face defeat, who grapple with the weight of adversity, and who are in desperate need of the boundless love and unwavering truth that reside in Christ? The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, employs the prayers of His cherished ones to guide others towards Christ's comforting presence. Let us, united in purpose, extend our hearts in prayerful petition, extending a hand to those in need, and ultimately pointing them to the boundless wellspring of hope found in Christ.
In the sacred journey of faith, with heartfelt sincerity,