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December 2022 New Horizons

The Church in This Place

 

Contents

The Church in This Place

Rebuilding in Appalachia

An Unusual Reflection on Christmas

Lessons Learned from Nursing Home Ministry

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The Church in This Place

When the New Testament mentions churches, it names them by their location. Christians make up a church in this place or that: the church in Rome, the church in Ephesus. What we know about those places informs what we know about the task that God, who was present in those places, was equipping his people to undertake there. The Spirit of God moves the people of God to act according to the Word of God in the place to which he calls them. For example, the Spirit tells Christians not to stop gathering in person . We cannot log in for communion. When we obey, our acts display to those outside the church that Christ is present, that he is in this place. In a faithful church, Christ is a neighbor—even when that church’s locale is one of misery and crime. A Changing Neighborhood Members of First Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Portland, Oregon, know the story of their earliest presence in the neighborhood. The history page on their website reads, “With early help from Rev. George Marston, Pastor Eyres ... Read more

Rebuilding in Appalachia

In rural eastern Kentucky, the tree-covered Appalachians tumble downward to meet in narrow hollows— hollers —that are sometimes only wide enough for a creek, a line of houses on one side, and a road on the other. The town of Neon, where the OPC has had a church plant for twenty-two years, lies a few miles up one of these hollers next to a creek called Wright Fork. During the night of July 28, heavy rains poured down the mountains, filled up the creek beds, and flooded hollers across eastern Kentucky, including Neon. Pastor Jay Bennett woke up at 3 a.m. to watch from his second-story apartment as their family’s Toyota Corolla floated down Main Street. He called his wife, Andrea, who was out of state visiting family; soon after, cell service broke down. The next morning, Bennett waded through several feet of water downstairs in the renovated storefront that is the church building. The windows were all broken. The water was dark brown. The watermark was six feet high. Behind the church and across the ... Read more

An Unusual Reflection on Christmas

Christmas, both the historical event described in Holy Scripture, when the eternal son of God was incarnated as Jesus the Messiah, and the church’s annual celebration of that blessed event with “tidings of comfort and joy,” has been an inspiration not only to preachers, but to poets, painters, and composers for centuries. Some second commandment strictures aside, we continue to be blessed by many of their efforts with aesthetic pleasure and spiritual edification. By far one of the most unusual poetic reflections on the Christmas event is “The Burning Babe” by English poet Robert Southwell (c. 1561–1595). Its truth is as penetrating to the heart as its imagery is disturbing to the imagination. The poem (see below) is comprised of four sentences: The first introduces us to the poet’s situation and startling vision. The second and third contain the Babe’s explanation of what the poet sees. The fourth returns us to the poet’s situation as the vision disappears and he comes to realize the ... Read more

Lessons Learned from Nursing Home Ministry

For more than twelve years, Calvary OPC in Ringoes, New Jersey, has had a monthly ministry at a local long-term care facility, otherwise known as a nursing home. This ministry is small, it is ordinary, and it has produced limited visible fruit. Yet, the Lord has used it to encourage and bless individuals outside the church doors in meaningful ways. Our hope in this article is to share how the Lord may use a nursing home ministry in proclaiming the gospel of Christ and to offer some practical suggestions for congregations who are either considering or engaging in a ministry like this. Need and Opportunity According to the CDC, there are more than fifteen thousand nursing homes and twenty-eight thousand residential care communities in the United States. These facilities vary widely in size, cost, quality, and safety. When you read “nursing home,” a few connotations likely come to your mind. You might think of people with chronic medical needs requiring continuous care to function, you might imagine ... Read more

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