eNewsletter Feature Story – Week of August 1 thru August 7, 2021

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor.

Dear friends,

When I was in seminary, I excelled in all of my Greek language courses. I loved studying the Greek New Testament — learning how to conjugate verbs and experiencing the excitement of unearthing new insights (new to me, at least) from the New Testament.

Flush with confidence, I started my Hebrew language classes, expecting the same level of proficiency, success, and spiritual excitement that I had experienced learning Greek.

One mistake I made was to do my Hebrew classes during the summer. I thought I would use the summer to get ahead in credits. Instead, I spent eight hours each day, five days a week, trying to cover a semester’s work in just two weeks — a big mistake.

I failed the course.

My ready excuse was that I was working full time while doing this summer intensive. But I remember walking out of the seminary with a lump in my throat. I was so angry and disappointed with my performance that I punched the wall, bloodying some of my knuckles, stripping away the flesh.

Failure is a bitter pill to swallow, isn’t it? Most of us wish we could live our lives, face all of our challenges, without the pain of failure and serious setbacks. But as you and I know, life doesn’t grant us such luxury.

This Sunday is Communion Sunday — the first in our Sanctuary in over 18 months. I hope you will join us. Our text for the morning will be a rather frank admission of epic failure from one of Scripture’s most famous (and infamous) leaders, King David, beloved of God. Read Psalm 51, read it deeply, and you can feel the visceral pain in David’s lament.

The full details of the very sad story can be found in second Samuel 11–12. David sinned terribly and tried to cover it up. Nathan exposed David’s failure, and it coiled in his heart like a snake. Many of us are like David in that we try to hide our sins from others. But, unlike David, when confronted with failure, too often we do not fall to the ground in confession. Instead we react like wild, angry bulls, tossing our horns, digging in our hooves, preparing to attack our accusers. What a difference it would make if we would humble ourselves and seek God’s mercy and the help of others. What a difference in this world, too, if our leaders today did the same.

Can you remember a time in your life when you failed? How did it make you feel? What did you do to recover from your failure? What advice would you offer those who fall?

Relying on the Mercy of God,

Pastor Ray Hylton

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