“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
– Isaiah 6:3
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I hope you have heard the good news – we will be worshiping in person again starting this Sunday, January 10! We are looking forward to seeing you—the sanctuary is awfully empty without you to share worship together. We will offer the 10am worship service and children’s church in person, but Sunday School will stay online only for the time being. As usual, we ask that you wear masks and use hand sanitizer when you are in the building and save catch-up conversations for when you are outside in the fresh air. We still have a long winter to get through, so we want to help you all stay as healthy as possible. And of course, we will continue to offer our services live on Facebook and YouTube for any of you who need to worship with us online.
As we have gone through the difficulties of the pandemic and all the other issues our country has been facing, many people have asked me about prophecy in the Bible. What does it mean? How does it speak to our current situation? If you struggle to understand the prophets, don’t worry, you are not alone! They are a challenge for the most educated scholars and most experienced pastors.
To begin to scratch the surface on understanding the prophets, for the next six weeks we are going to be doing an overview of the Major and Minor Prophets of the Bible. This is what I like to call the 50,000ft view – we want to look at the contexts and situations the prophets were writing about as well as some of their major themes. Who were these prophets? What were they so fired up about? What can they teach us about the human condition, and most importantly, what can they teach us about God?
This Sunday, we will be starting with the book of Isaiah. In the midst of the collapse of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Assyria’s attacks on Judah, Isaiah speaks words of both rebuke and hope. He calls out the kings for constantly looking to neighboring countries for chariots and horses and salvation rather than looking to God. The Lord uses Isaiah over and over to remind His people to trust in Him alone. This tug between human disobedience and God’s graciousness is seen both at a macro level in Isaiah as well as a micro level. The first 39 chapters speak more about God’s judgment and the last 27 chapters speak more about God’s grace and redemption. We can also see that same tug within chapters, like in Isaiah 30, where the Lord rebukes the people:
“Woe to the obstinate children, declares the Lord, to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace” (Is 30:1-3).
Then a few verses later, Isaiah is given this promise for the people, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore, He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18).
God’s grace overflows through the chapters of Isaiah, reminding us that He is holy, He is faithful, and He is our salvation. Isaiah has more prophecies about the coming Messiah than any other book, both about his birth – “For unto us a child is born” (Is 9:6) and about his death – “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Is 53:5).
As we explore Isaiah this week, I hope that it will bring you encouragement and a new sense of God’s forgiving grace. No matter how many times we fail, God in His infinite mercy promises to deliver us. Be sure to pick up a study guide in the lobby or narthex or download a copy from our website. We have small groups meeting throughout the week and we would love to get you plugged in so you can discuss these challenging books with others as well.
“Snow Angels” Ministry: Would you like to be a “snow angel?” Or do you need a “snow angel?” The Congregational Connections Ministry Team is looking both for folks who would be willing to shovel snow and for folks who need snow shoveled. Please be in touch with Linda Pokrajac, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 412-531-3387 x207 if this is something you are interested in learning more about!
Sunday School: We are continuing online for Sunday School. Pastor Steve and the Lamplighter class will continue with their offering for any adults who are interested. This is the link to log in at 11:15 - https://duq.zoom.us/j/97403542430 If you would like to be on the email list for the adult class, please let us know at email@example.com The Youth and Children’s classes will remain online as well, so email us if you would like information about how to connect with those groups.
Small Groups: In addition to these Sunday School offerings, we have several small groups meeting online almost every day of the week, and we have groups for Tweeners, Middle School and High School, Young Adults, Women, Men, and coed groups. If you are interested in becoming part of one of these groups, please contact us at 412-531-3387 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, please let us know if there is any way we can support you or connect with you during this season. You can email us at email@example.com, with any needs, prayer requests, or just updates on how you are doing. And you are always welcome to call us at 412-531-3387.
PLEASE JOIN US ... Now Open for In-person Worship!
Sunday, January 10 ~ 10:00 a.m.
Pastor Carolyn ~ "Isaiah: God's Comfort in Crisis"
Scripture Verses ~ Isaiah 6:1-8 and Isaiah 30:15-20