Dear Brothers and Sisters at Epiphany Church,
The Spirit of this letter is one of challenge, love, and encouragement! May this be an opportunity for all of those things!
The past couple of years have been some of the hardest years in many of our lives, and it might have been that way without the pandemic, but with it, it has made it so much harder. As we prepare to celebrate our fourth year, I have prayed, fasted, and been discussing with other leaders the need for an opportunity for the whole church to renew its membership vows for the past several months. Sometimes when a married couple will want to celebrate the renewed commitment by renewing their wedding vows. We want to do that as a church family together.
In 2nd Kings 10, there is the story of Jehu who has gone to war. He meets Jehonabad, and with fresh blood, sweat, and tears on his cloak from the war he sees the man on the way unsure if he is friend or foe, or just on the sidelines and he asks in verse 14 “Are you with me?” He answers ‘I am” and in verse 15 Jehu reaches out his arm and pulls Jehonabab into the chariot and says “Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord.”
Brothers and Sisters, we are not in a war against flesh and blood, but we are still in a battle that is life or death. Let us pull you up on the chariot, ride with us and see where we can go in 2022 and beyond. There are habits in your life that God can crush, there are opportunities to grow and serve that you might have given up on. Beyond the ways in which God can deliver, heal and grow you as you live these vows out, let’s imagine what GOD could do through us together.
Imagine visitors come to our Church and they see a full crowd, radically loving and accepting people fully engaged in worship. In fact, we have 37 different households that have officially joined our Church in the past four years, when we live out our promises, we’d have a full service every week and be on our way to considering launching a morning service! Imagine you watch online for the first time and a number of people reach out to you every time. We have youth that comes to church on their own who need spiritual aunts and uncles, that need you. We have people who want to reach out for help in recovery against their battle with addiction but need someone to join them to do it with. We have folks in a process of healing from the past they can’t do it alone, we have ministers in training, ready to lead!
I am saying, come and see the zeal we have, we want to start new Churches in tough towns full of folks like us that were not ‘church people’, we want to raise up leaders right here at Epiphany Gloucester as well, we want our Church to be a spot that is a weekly anchor in the lives of a growing number of people, where people are healed from their past, set free from addiction, find a family, jump in with God on a mission and learn to serve others, learn to live a radically different life then they use to. Come believe with us that you can change with us, with the Lord as the center of your life and His people on your journey to the left and the right.
This Sunday’s Covenant Renewal Service (January 9th) will include an opportunity to come together, sing, pray and hear God’s word as we do every week. We are going to spend some time confessing together the ways we have broken and wandered from our baptismal vows, the basic commitments that we have when we are united to God through baptism and to His people, then we will stand together and renew the same vows every one of us made when we joined the Church. If you haven’t yet a great place to start, to prepare your heart for this service is to check out the 22-minute video put together by our ministers in training explaining each of our 7 vows.
We will also celebrate communion as one Church body as we have no Shepherding Groups this month. While we celebrate communion, we will ask you and every member to come forward after receiving communion, to sign your name in a fresh, new Church roll book indicating you are recommitting your life with your brothers and sisters to serve the Lord and live out these promises. We will also have a small sheet you can keep in your bible or put on the fridge to remind yourself on a regular basis.
For those who will be joining us online, I want you to know that we are grateful for you! But we would ask you to really engage in the service, and type in your responses so you know you also stand with us. Next week I’ll be looking to see who was engaging online and as time allows, make sure we link up so that you can also sign our Church rolls and receive communion. From now on we want every new baptism and member to be in this book as a symbol of our unity together and commitment to God together.
So are you with us? The hand is stretched out, and the chariot is riding by. We would love for you to see what God can accomplish in and through us together.
May this service be a blessing to you, for some, it may be the kick in the pants you need, for others the cup of refreshing water, the encouragement that you need, wherever you are, know that we love you and only want to see you grow “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” Ephesians 4:13.
What does it look like to sign the book and live this out? We will have these flyers for everyone to keep in your house, on your fridge, or in your bible as a reminder. May it help ground your faith in 2022 and beyond!