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One Swing… and then the Next!

Who could have imagined in the spring of 2022, when the Phillies were hot one minute and cold the next, that they would get hot at just the right time? We barely made the play-offs, squeaking in with a Wild Card. But now… against all odds, the Phillies are going to the World Series!!!! Even if you are not a baseball fan, (admittedly most of the season I am rather uninspired by the game), it is still exciting to have our city represented in the World Series. The series winning game happened Sunday afternoon. I had just visited the last of our Church Has Left the Building mission projects. When I arrived home, I fell into the corner of my favorite chair, grabbed my softest blanket, and settled in to watch the game. As usual, I watched with little comment, until the final out, and suddenly I found myself shouting at the television like some crazed fan. “We won! We won! We won!” I am still riding high!

Yet, the excitement of that win and the World Series run to come pales in comparison to the joy I feel watching all that God has been doing in and through our faith community this month! I stand amazed at the faithfulness of our people answering God’s call to love our neighbors. Let me share with you a few stats from the Church Has Left the Building mission projects so that you can join me in amazement. Since October 2nd, we have completed 18 mission projects, with 303 volunteers serving over 856 hours. We prepared 204 Caring for Friends meals, plus 15 soups (a new record for a one-day preparation.) We packed 88 College Care packages to remind our students how loved they are. We delivered 1648 pounds of food to the New Britain Food Larder- that’s ¾ of a ton of food! And thus far, we have packed 153 Samaritan’s Purse Christmas boxes, with more expected in the weeks to come, for children in third world countries. I have no way to count all the generous shoppers who overwhelmed our church with donations. But I do know that because of that generosity, we have blessed Veterans in Philadelphia and little ones in Honduras, women at the Recovery Center and families waiting for an organ transplant, 1st responders in our community and children in southwest Philadelphia. How beautiful to see grace win in our increasingly graceless world!

Grace certainly claimed the day when our church united on October 16th to offer a love gift to our neighbors at the Free Fall Fest. What a joy to see a sea of blue LVC shirts spread across our lawn ready to welcome the neighbors. And then to watch the neighbors come… to see them enjoy a simple afternoon together… and to hear the laughter of their children. There were some who were surprised that the event was actually ‘free.’ I think many expected that there would be a catch. But grace… real grace… is always free! Watching our
faith community follow the Savior in acts of grace has been a joy that far exceeds any World Series run. So, I stepped into my office on Monday like a mountain climber who had reached the summit… only to receive the call I have expected with great trepidation. One of our dear members lost his battle Sunday night against cancer. For months, Joe has fought the good fight with his LVC family at his side. One treatment, one hospital stay, one test result after another. The battle has been relentless against a cancer that almost always wins. Yet, we had hoped and prayed… looking for the miracle that would astound even the doctors. But late Sunday night, Jesus welcomed Joe home offering him a healing grace that alluded him on this earth.

From the mountain top to the valley low… how often life swings like a pendulum from high to low and back again. I desperately want a moment when the pendulum would stop… I need to catch my breath… I yearn for peace. But life keeps moving at a relentless pace… I see no STOP coming!

This morning I woke with a song playing in my head. It was Joe’s favorite. For the last several years, Joe has been a faithful member of our worship team. He joined us at the beginning of the pandemic to help our tech team create a livestream worship. Before long, we discovered that Joe could play the guitar… and then we found that he had a rock-style voice that was just right for some of our songs. Bit by bit, Joe found his place on the team and in our hearts. Joe loved contemporary Christian music. He was an avid fan of K-Love on the radio. His faith grew by leaps and bounds as the strains of those songs taught his heart to trust the Savior. September 2021, Joe and Kristin sang a duet at our Kick-Off concert. It was a song made popular by Dolly Parton and Zach Williams- There Was Jesus. This morning, those lyrics have played over and over in my mind and heart, as if Jesus Himself were speaking comfort into my tears.
In the waiting, in the searching In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I've been and where I'm going
Even when I didn't know it or couldn't see it
There was Jesus
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces… there was Jesus. That pendulum keeps swinging… and peace remains elusive… but there is Jesus. Again and again, He comes with a healing grace to carry us through the valley, and He meets us on the mountain high to celebrate with joy. In the waiting and the searching… there is Jesus. May we have eyes to see Him in the midst of our life journey… there is Jesus.

With you seeking the Savior,
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