From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - February 25

Dear Friends,

First up, many congratulations to the Childs family who many of you know and remember!  Carter Grant (10 lbs., 2oz, 21 in long), their 14th, has arrived. Momma and baby are healthy. 

Second, by way of preparation for the end of Daniel, I want to teach you a theological nerd word. It’s a concept that will help you better understand the Bible in general and even the mysteries of Revelation. Here it is: 

Recapitulation.

You’re welcome! 

My kids love recapitulation. Recapitulation is this idea, “Tell me again!” In the retelling, there’s more details picked up. For example, every year I take my boys camping on a man trip up near Lake George. We do similar things every year – sleep in a tent, eat an embarrassing number of hot dogs, climb a mountain, and swim in Lake George. Yesterday, to get the boys excited about the man trip and summer, we cooked and ate an embarrassing number of hot dogs over our Christmas tree in the snow. We recapitulated our man trip, for a moment, in winter. The recapitulation lived out, shapes their hopes for summer fun.

The Bible loves to retell and recapitulate the old stories from a different perspective. The retelling helps us better understand the events. And the retelling shapes our hope as Christians!

Genesis 3:8 – God walks with Adam in Eden in the cool of the evening. That was a benefit of Eden, God walking with humanity. Intent on dwelling with them. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

Leviticus retells the Eden story for Israel. Listen to Leviticus 26:12 – “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”

The retelling or recapitulation of God walking with humans, helps us better see what God is promising to do for Israel with the tabernacle. Like Eden, though now in the desert, God promises to dwell among and walk with Israel. The tension of Genesis 3 continues, because this is a promised blessing should they obey. 

John, retells and recapitulates both Eden and Leviticus in John 1:14! This time it’s all about Jesus – The Word became human and ‘tabernacled’ among us. The glory of the living God walked with sinful humans on earth! The blessing of God dwelling with us in Jesus is ours through faith. 

Finally, in Revelation 21-22 – We hear of God dwelling on earth with man. (Eden ideal again). The tree of life is there. With leaves for the healing of the nations. Now Eden is being enjoyed by more than Adam and Eve, but people from the nations, who get to walk with Jesus. And there’s no curse!

The recapitulation and retelling helps us better understand what God is up to! Now, what about Daniel?

Daniel 7 gives the famous vision of Jesus, the Son of Man, taming the beastly kingdoms of the world. 

Chapters 8-12 give consecutive visions of the future, recapitulating what came before. Each vision that follows, is Daniel trying to understand when the Messiah will come. Look at what’s repeated. 

Kingdoms rise with cruelty and fade away into obscurity. God’s kingdom endures forever. 

More details are given, retelling and adding to what came before. 

Kings. Evil. Perseverance of the Saints. God’s Judgment. Hope. 

Resurrection. 

We Westerners prefer literal and straight timelines. God gives us a story He loves to repeat. This world is not well due to sin and evil. But God, in His Sovereign, Unending Mercy, is working through the Messiah, Jesus, to resurrect and renew all things! All this repetition reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by G.K Chesterton, a theologian. He writes:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Sunday School – 9:00am – I’m excited about this week’s lessons from Esther. What story are we living out when we go through suffering? Esther is a practical book that teaches us a model on how to choose faith in the midst of suffering. Jesus’ journey into suffering mirrors the pattern of Esther. Which teaches us how to share in Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10). 

Sunday Worship 10:00am – Come and hear the story of the gospel retold, so that we might leave abounding in hope in Jesus! It’s going to feel like an early Easter service as we talk about the hope of resurrection.

I’ll sign off with a reminder. Your elders and pastors are here to pray with and for you. If you have a need, please do not hesitate to reach out!

Grace and peace,
Nate Thompson

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Following Jesus Together - February 18

Dear Friends,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Many thanks for the kind notes, prayers and concerns for me and my family! A quick update on my health. I was able to meet with two different doctors yesterday. I’m in the range of normal, which is encouraging. I am dealing with chronic weakness and fatigue due to bronchitis, which is made worse by the cold and dry air. So the short version is that I will be weak for a while, until my lungs recover. I would appreciate prayers for me in particular, wrestling with patience. 

Sunday School – 9:00am – I am planning to teach through the Hiddenness of God in Esther on Sunday. Many of the Psalms are explicit in asking God, “Where are you? Have you forgotten me?” Esther asks and answers those same questions through a gripping story. Come and join us in person or online! 

We get to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who experienced God’s hidden face on the cross, treated like an enemy, so we can say, “My heart will rejoice in Your salvation. You O God, have dealt bountifully with me.” 

Worship – 10:00am – Daniel 10 – For weeks Daniel experienced weakness. Mourning. Fear. Grief. Sorrow. Because he sees what’s coming for God’s people. Join us as we see the personal grace Daniel receives for his weakness. Grace means God-given courage! 

BACA – Showing mercy to our community. Every year we volunteer to administer a fund to meet the needs of the hurting in the Ballston Spa School district. We have 6 out of 8 weeks covered. Please keep our volunteers in prayer. We keep being shown in the latter half of Daniel that God delights to work through the humble prayers of the righteous. We get to be generous AND talk about Jesus. So pray for those opportunities to arise. 

If you’d like to help with this short term mission effort, please contact the office. You are welcome to shadow and see what it’s about before committing as well. 

Lastly, check out this great video describing the ways Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is sharing the gospel with their community. Perhaps this will plant seeds for ideas for how we can love Ballston Spa and Saratoga County? 

https://pcamna.org/publications/multiply/

Grace and peace,
Nate Thompson

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