eNewsletter Feature Story – October 21, 2021
This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor.
I am, by nature, a sentimentalist. I feel things deeply, even though what I am feeling doesn’t always register on my face. As a sentimentalist, memories are very important to me.
Sometimes I hear a song or watch a movie and it moves me to tears, not because of the music or the movie in themselves, necessarily, but because of how they reconnect me to a memory and time in my life.
For the same reason, in my house and office at the church, I hold on to books, cards, letters, and various pictures because of how they speak to me through the years.
There is a section of my bookshelf at church dedicated to an assortment of Bibles purchased or given to me over four decades.
Yesterday, I reached up and took down a Bible given to me by my “brother from another mother” — Danny and I went to different high schools, but we were peas in a pod.
Forty-one years ago (1980), Danny gave me a paperback copy of the New Testament. In the front leaf, he wrote:
To Raynard (that’s my name in Jamaica) from Danny. Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a “Heavy” 1980 in the Lord. Study and…preach the word in season.
In 1980, I wasn’t in shouting distance of being a pastor. But, back then, I was heavily invested in serving in our children’s ministry, youth ministry, and Jamaica Youth For Christ. In retrospect, God used those times to solidify God’s plan for my life.
I know. To non-sentimentalists, this must sound so gooey and weird. But this kind of stuff grounds me as a person and gives me a sense of who I am.
The older this Bible gets, the more precious to me it becomes. The pages are yellow, brittle, and dog-eared, but look at the picture. You will see that, some 41 years ago, I underlined a verse in the Bible about Jesus that spoke to me then — and speaks clearly to me now.
Hebrews 4:13-16 is a cornerstone text for my life. It reveals the fragility of my life and the constancy of our Savior.
He knows exactly how we feel. Such assurance of his sympathy (Heb. 2:18) encourages us and sustains us when things go wrong.
My sentimental jaunt back in time also reminds me of one of the New Testament’s most important invitations: Let us then, with confidence, draw near to the throne of grace (Heb, 4:16).
Sisters and brothers, we dare not be prayerless. In the trials and temptations of life, we find comfort in the deep assurance that “Jesus knows,” but there is also an invitation to follow him with boldness into the Holy place, near to the Throne of Grace. It is here that we receive mercy to cover the sins of yesterday, and it is also here that we find Grace to meet the needs of today.
- T. Forsyth — the insightful Scottish preacher and theologian — insisted that prayerlessness is the root of all sin. When we do not give time each day to earnest and believing prayer, we are saying that we can cope with life without divine aid.
This is human arrogance at its worst. Jesus knew that he had to pray and did so, gladly, necessarily, and effectively. To be prayerless is to be guilty of the worst form of practical atheism. We are saying that we believe in God, but we can do without him. It makes us careless about our former sins and heedless of our immediate needs.
Family of God, in a time of uncertainty caused by violence, war, political infighting, economic pressures, and years-long pandemics, Seeing then that we have a great high priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. And let us then, with confidence, draw near to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb.4:14-16).
Please do everything you can to join us in worship this Sunday at 9:30 and for our Congregational meeting that follows. Now is the time to draw near to Christ and each other, not separate.
Your sentimental pastor,
Pastor Ray Hylton