By Pat Russell
October 11, 2020
Sermon from Pastor Bruce Spear
Scripture for the day: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
It's Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in My Hiding Place (aka she-shed). The weather is changing. The bright gold and yellows on the trees have moved to rust colors as the trees and bushes begin to draw their energy inward in preparation for colder days. The winds are blowing, and the leaves are falling. Even though we have gone out with a beautiful bang of color, we think about wrapping up our yard work and maybe even lighting a fire in the fireplace. We begin to draw inward. It is a time of transition.
And so, it was with Paul and Timothy’s relationship. As Bruce has pointed out, this was probably Paul’s last letter. Once again, we can draw the parallel between Paul and Bruce as he moves toward retirement and we press on without him. I appreciated what Richard Foster said in his interview with Bruce, “Bruce has prepared you for this time.” And the quote from Julian of Norwich when she heard God say to her, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Timothy could have been feeling timid or afraid about the future without Paul, and Paul wanted to encourage him to keep on keeping on. As you listened to Bruce’s sermon, what words of encouragement did you hear for you and for our church? What stood out in your mind and captured your heart? The rock cut out of the mountain from Daniel’s vision that established the Kingdom of God over all; the proclamation of the Word of God proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus; our church mission to “Help People Meet and Walk with Jesus” in words and action; to preach the Good News in and out of season; to keep a clear head in the days ahead; to endure hardship; to discharge your duties as a follower of Jesus; to “tell it” over and over!
Last week I struggled with drawing a Going Deeper out of the sermon because telling our flock to check for sin in our lives as we are in this transition is not particularly enjoyable. But it is so important for us to prepare our hearts when these times have produced critical spirits! We cannot take that critical spirit with us in these days of transition. We cannot draw in and “wait and see” if “they” do it right. We must listen carefully to what Paul encourages Timothy to be and do, and “go do likewise.”
So many good words! So many precious words of love spoken by a pastor to his “flock of one.” And Bruce has spoken to his flock through those very Words. The question remains, what will you and I do and be in the days ahead? God has the WHOLE world in His hands; He has EPC in his hands. How are you going to respond to that truth in the days ahead?