“God’s Love Letter”
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:2f)
In scripture, the Church of Jesus Christ is called many things: the Body of Christ; the Branches of the Vine (Jesus); the Temple of the Spirit; the Family of God; the Bride of Christ. But one of my favorite metaphors for the church is the one used in 2 Corinthians 3:3, “you are a letter of Christ.” When Jesus came into the world, John referred to Him as “the Word (logos or God’s revelation) made flesh…” (John 1:1ff) Jesus was sent into the world as God’s Love Letter to humanity; likewise, we are sent into the world as God’s Love Letter to all people.
This past couple of months, I have witnessed God’s Love Letter in the life of our congregation. And I want to thank you. We hosted the Mercy House program providing assistance to families experiencing homelessness. For six weeks, February 29th – April 16th, hundreds of people came to FPCSA, found meals, showers, clothes, and shelter. We had about 100 people sleeping on the floor of McFarland Hall every night for six weeks.
The people who we hosted had to be parents of minor children, so it wasn’t just adults we provided care for, but children: from infancy to adolescence. I have to confess I was so proud of our church members and friends. On Saturday, March 5th, we hosted a breakfast for our guests. Thank you to Tom Parsons for his leadership in organizing and cooking for this event. The duo, Acoustic Mondays, led by Chris Briskorn performed on the patio, Saturday, March 12th. And on Friday, March 18th, Shannon & Scott Overpeck hosted a movie night for the children, with popcorn and crafts.
Two of the Tuesdays I was unable to be here, and Becky Human came in and did her musical magic with the children. Two other Tuesdays, William Thomblison came in and did his magical Magic Show with the children. Some of you made lunches for our guests and some of you came in to help serve dinners. Many of you brought clothes and toiletries. Thank you to each and every one of you. You are God’s Love Letter to the least, the lost, and the last.
Also a big thank you goes to those who were so incredibly flexible during this time. The Hispanic Ministry usually meets in McFarland Hall on Sundays, but they willingly moved to Calvin Lounge during this time. Zumba moved from McFarland Hall to the Underground throughout the weeks. KidSingers moved from McFarland Hall to the sanctuary on Tuesday afternoons. MMA moved from the Underground to Calvin Lounge. All of you were so gracious to move without complaint or grumblings. Thank you!
A huge debt of gratitude goes to Betty Thompson and the Missions Committee of the church, as well as Dick Ressler and the Administration Committee of the church. Betty and her team worked tirelessly meeting with leaders from Mercy House and from FPCSA. They prepared and implemented a plan for this caring outreach. And it ran so smoothly. When there were issues with property, Dick Ressler was quick to find a solution. Both Mercy House staff and guests have mentioned that FPCSA is their favorite host church.
While we were hosting Mercy House, we were very busy with other church stuff, as well. Holy Week happened. Thanks to Shannon Overpeck for planning and hosting the early morning prayer times throughout the city during the first half of Holy Week. Thanks to Kathy Wallenbeck, Ava Steaffens, Debby Rush and their team for providing dinner and decorations on Maundy Thursday; thanks to the choir, Bob Becker and to the other leaders for providing a deeply meaningful time that night. And thanks to Scott & Shannon Overpeck for their leadership on the Good Friday evening Stations of the Cross, walking through the city of Santa Ana.
Tom Parsons pulled double-duty this year and hosted a second Pancake Breakfast for our church family on Easter morning. For the past several years, we’ve hosted an Easter Egg Hunt on the OC Courthouse lawn. Those Easter eggs are filled every year by Janice Towner; thanks to her, for this wonderful ministry. I think I heard through the grapevine that there are 600 eggs at the Easter Egg Hunt. Thank you Janice!
Now we move into May and we have more opportunities to say thank you. May 8th is, of course, Mother’s Day. As we have done in the last few years, we’ll take time in the service to say thank you to our moms and to the mother figures in our lives. Please plan ahead if you would like to pay tribute to someone on that morning. And if you are too shy to stand and speak, feel free to write something down and we’ll have someone read it for you. As an added bonus, the children will help provide leadership in the worship service that morning.
Pentecost Sunday is on May 15th. On Pentecost we celebrate the Birthday of the Church. Not only will we have a worship service combined with our Hispanic sisters and brothers, but we’ll be welcoming new members into the church family. At last count, we had seven individuals considering membership. I hope you will be here to support our new members and celebrate the Church’s Birthday.
May 22nd is Choir Recognition Sunday and we’ll say thank you to those involved in our music ministry. They will do their annual “Favorites Concert” in worship, and we’ll offer heart-felt thanks to them for the time and energy they willingly offer to God and to our church family. Again, I hope you will be here to support our volunteers in the music ministry.
When I look at all the things our church is doing here in the heart of Orange County, I am deeply grateful for this expression of God’s Love Letter to humankind. The letter may not be fancy or computer generated. It’s handwritten and heartfelt. But I know I am blessed and so are the people you touch with your message of love and hope. So thank you!
In Christ’s Love & Service,