Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We continue to bless our great God for the warm welcome given to us as we get settled in here at CCOPC! May Christ always be magnified in and through our local expression of the Body of Christ!
I hope that you will take some time and read the book of Malachi as we begin our study of the last book of the Old Testament. Last Sunday we heard how the gracious Lord loves His straying people so much that He is willing to “take them to court” in a covenantal lawsuit, with the promise that if the people would return to Him, that He would return to them. This week in the opening 5 verses we will see how the Lord opens His covenant lawsuit against His people, which is never aimed at “winning the case” but rather at “winning His people” that their hearts might once again beat for Him alone.
Young Adult Fellowship at McClymonds this week
One thing to notice a little different about this week’s calendar (see below!) is that the Young Adults Fellowship will meet at the McClymonds’ home at 921 Maidstone Avenue, Westfield. Please come and enjoy the teaching and fellowship and food! Even if you don’t usually attend, or if you just want the fellowship, come! Elder Brian will have a teaching time for the Young Adults and everyone else can just hang out, fellowship, and eat! We ask that if you think you can come, just send a reply to me at email@example.com.
A Lesson in Practical Presbyterianism
This week’s calendar also provides an opportunity to learn a bit about how our presbyterianism works out in practical ways. On Monday members of the Session will meet with the Visitation Committee of the Presbytery of Ohio. This annual meeting takes place as a way to concretely display the love of Christ from the regional church toward the local church. It models the idea that our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, came down from heaven to visit His people for their spiritual good. It also stands in an analagous position to the shepherding visits the elders make to individuals and families within the congregation.
Likewise, the Visitation Committee is the shepherding arm of the presbytery to local congregations to help them in whatever pertains to their spiritual welfare. Far from being a visit where the presbytery comes with a “biblical white glove” to try to pick up whatever “dust” it can, this meeting is seen by the elders as a time of growth, fellowship, and learning from fellow laborers in the broader church within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Resolution of conflicts, deaconal strategies, evangelistic outreach strategies, practical tips on keeping better sessional records, how to improve service as elders taking care of congregation members – these and more topics can come up at the Visitation Committee meetings.
Members of the committee are presbyters, ministers and ruling elders from across the presbytery, men who have a passion for all the congregations of this presbytery, and who genuinely seek to help the Sessions in any ways that might be needed. In fact, some of you might know one of the members of this committee…yes, our very own Pastor Emeritus Mark Melton will be there, no longer with a “session hat” on but with his “presbytery hat” on, as one of the trusted pastors serving on the Visitation Committee who help shepherd the flock of God on a regional level! Please pray for this meeting, that the Lord would provide safe travel to all, and that the spiritual welfare and health of CCOPC might be promoted.
· September 15 – Lord’s Day Worship, 10:15am
· September 15 – Young Adults / West Side Fellowship group, 6pm at the
McClymonds’: address is 921 Maidstone Avenue, Westfield — Please RSVP! at 479-799-2227 or firstname.lastname@example.org
· September 16 – Members of Session annual mtg. w/Presbytery of Ohio Visitation
Committee in Richmond, 7pm
· September 18 – Session meeting, 7pm
· September 22 – Lord’s Day Worship, 10:15am
· September 22 – Neighborhood Fellowship, 3pm
· September 29 – Lord’s Day Worship, 10:15am
· September 29 – Hymn / Psalm sing at the church building, 6pm
· September 29 – Hymn / Psalm sing at the church building, 6pm
· October 6 – Lord’s Day Worship, 10:15am
· October 6 – Feet ‘n Eat, after worship at Turkey Run State Park, details forthcoming
Meditations from Pastor Tim
Once again, some thoughts of my own based on Ronald S. Wallace’s, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Christian Life, a book which manages to be both challenging, readable, and eminently devotional, all in one. In this book’s section on Calvin’s thoughts on “Meditation on future or heavenly life,” we find some rich truth which can help comfort our souls daily when we find ourselves weary of sin in the world, in others, and of course, in ourselves.
The first idea is that as believers in Christ in a fallen world “we are daily exercised under the Cross by God that we may seek our true rest elsewhere than in this world.” We need a daily way to remind ourselves that this world is not our final home, but that as strangers and pilgrims we seek a better country, a heavenly one. This can be done by recalling that “our Christian life finds its focus and inspiration in the ascended Christ.” We are united to Christ by faith not only in His death and resurrection, but also in His ascension. Though not a mystic, Calvin could write, “Ascension follows resurrection: hence if we are members of Christ we must ascend into Heaven, because He, on being raised up from the dead was received up into Heaven that He might draw us with Him.” While not a mystical notion, it is mysterious, that is, an article of our faith that is hard to comprehend yet nevertheless true. Consider this in the light that Paul himself states in Ephesians 2, that as part of our union with Christ by faith the Lord has “made alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” [Emphasis mine. TLM]
Second, how do we “meditate on the future life” then? Remembering this truth that we have been made to “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, ” we recall that, as Wallace puts it, our life in Christ is one “that strains toward a completion and fulfillment that belong to it only beyond death.” Are we looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places, that is, somewhere other than in heaven where the Resurrected and Ascended Christ sits at the right hand of the Father? Since we have also been “raised up together with Christ” in our regeneration, we have experienced a spiritual resurrection which is but the firstfruits of the resurrection of our bodies which we will experience at the Last Day. Calvin will conclude, according to Wallace, that “it is thus that the first fruits which we now taste should stir us up to press forward to the full reality of which they are the pledges.” In other words, when we remember that we are already declared, in a spiritual sense, to have been made alive, resurrected, and seated together with Christ in heaven, we say something like, “Oh yeah! I am gonna make it after all! God guarantees that this very beginning of joy will someday explode into a veritable everlasting fireworks display of joy and delight in the Lord!” Calvin referred to this spiritual discipline of thinking on heaven and the eternal future as (Fancy Latin Term Alert) meditatio futurae vitae, the meditation on the future life.
I myself would call this “pie in the sky” religion in the best sense. This kind of meditation (not to be confused with “meditation” in the eastern mystical tradition, or with so called “transcendental meditation) is often ridiculed as being other worldly or as contrary to “life in the real world,” making Christians open to the critique that “they are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.”) Nevertheless, Scripture itself urges us to “meditate” in this sense whenever it urges us to consider “who we are in Christ.” Again, Calvin says that in raising our minds up to heaven, we are to engage in the kind of meditation which is a “true and holy thinking about Christ, which forthwith bears us up to Heaven, that we may there adore Him, and that our minds may dwell with Him.” A Christian buoyed daily by delighting in who He is in Christ, and in the sure promises that in the end, all will be well with our souls and bodies in heaven, surely can be a more winsome witness to unbelieving friends and family, not to mention a more positive encouragement to fellow believers who are being worn down by the daily spiritual grind of life in a fallen world.
Allow me to add the capstone this section of Wallace’s masterful and devotional treatment of Calvin on this subject. As “high church presbyterians” we believe that the Church is the lampstand of God in the world (cf. Revelation 2) and that sometimes well meaning but independent thinking American believers can fall into the trap of “lone-wolf Christianity.” Calvin, though, will have none of this. Calvin will add, in Wallace’s summary of the Genevan Master’s thinking, that this heavenly meditation is incomplete if done in isolation from our fellow believers in Jesus in the Church:
“…such movement with the mind and heart cannot take place through the unaided efforts of man’s own mind, but only by means of participation in the sacramental worship of the Church, which is for Calvin, the ladder by which the faithful mount up to Heaven, there to participate in Christ, or the hand of God stretched down to us in order to lift us to Himself.”
See you Sunday!
In Christ’s Service,