It was such fun to begin our new series, "Dear Church," with you all in worship this past week. I'm grateful that Revelation is so full of symbolism and mystery, and equally grateful that Pastor Augie and Mike are spending time thinking about this in Journey! For our purposes, in worship, we'll be focusing instead on these first few chapters. As we explore them and the letters to the seven churches at the beginning of Revelation, I've been struck by their simple wisdom for us today. They aren't big and scary at all, but helpful words to us as a church in a chaotic world.
We learned this week that the context of these letters is incredibly important. They were written to churches in chaos. Unlike our American church, these early churches were under the daily threat of violent persecution. They courageously followed God even when it death and separation from their communities were very real possibilities. The church at Smyrna, which we will study this week in Revelation 2:8-11, is a perfect example of this response. Instead of cowering in the face of this daily threat of violence, they held to the promise of resurrection life. They stood up to the persecution they received and proved faithful.
John encourages the church at Smyrna to remember that there was a fate worse than bodily death. As I reflected on that church, I thought of our Cuban brothers and sisters. While we have never experienced violent persecution as an American church, our neighbors to the south in Cuba have an entirely different story. The Cuban church has a deep and abiding faith that stands strong amid violent opposition. They are such wonderful examples to us of what faith in God really means during difficulties, and we benefit from our relationship with them.
Tonight, we'll celebrate an ongoing relationship of support and mutual prayer that we have had with the Cuban church at 6 pm in our Worship Center. (You can purchase a $20 ticket at the door- we'd love to see you there!) We'll share in a delicious dinner in the safety of our church building and remember the great and abiding faith of our Cuban brothers and sisters. While we may support them with our presence and our financial giving, the Cuban church supports our faith, reminding us of the truths contained in the story of the church at Smyrna, too.
I hope we'll see you later tonight and if not, that we'll see you in worship on Sunday as we continue to abide in our faith in Christ in our chaotic world.
In Christ's peace,