SOUTHERN HILLS DISTRICT
Many Holy Week worship services are held in the evening with darkened sanctuaries. Some Good Friday services have candles extinguished and people leaving a dark sanctuary as we await the news of hope and light renewed in Jesus’ resurrection. We feel the breadth and depth of darkness around us. We are shocked by the world’s blind destruction and darkness, and saddened by our own downhearted attitudes, dim understanding of scripture, and weak spirit. Our lives depend upon the light of Christ! I recently heard a sermon by Rev. Ev Stoddard about that light,
including his own experience on a clear night searching the skies to see if the “Northern Lights” might be slightly visible, as was a possibility.
Jesus’ own disciples, his closest followers, thought that the kingdom of God had come, but then they saw Jesus die on a cross! How they must have ached for a glimpse, a shimmer of hope! As people of faith, we are strangely hopeful, anticipating light before it dawns. Knowing that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son …” (John 3:16), we do not weep without hope, even as darkness is pressing in. We grieve as those who still anticipate that “joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
Think of the 12 Thai boys aged 11-16, and their soccer coach, who were rescued from darkness to life after being trapped June 23 last year 2.5 miles from the mouth of a cave. (Radhika Viswanathan www.vox.com 7-19-2018 “The rescue of the 12 Thai boys who were trapped in a cave explained”) It took an international team almost a month to find and rescue them, and the death of 38 year old volunteer rescuer Saman Kunan. 40% of the water in the cave from monsoon rains had to be pumped out, so some farmers had flooded fields, but were glad to be part of this rescue themselves, even at their own financial loss. This story points to a shimmer of hope in our world as I remember how rescuers from the US (30 people including 17 members of the Air Force), the British Cave Rescue Council (who headed the exploration which found the boys & coach), and from Australia, Japan, China, Myanmar, and Laos, all worked together for good. How many prayers were lifted up as well?!
We met in February and March in 6 different “Mission Areas” of our District to shine a light on the gifts and assets God has given us and how God might help us transform our communities and areas in the next chapter of our lives. (Thank you to leadership from Rev. Lee Ann Dunlap, Rev. Tina Gallaher, and Rev. Bev Hall!) Two groups have met again recently to follow up and all areas (former Compass Groups refocused) are asked to bring pastors and at least 2 laity from each church together by May to hone in on 1-3 plans of action. Our District Mission Strategy Committee will be enlightened and strengthened by this work we are doing together! We want to prayerfully encourage one another to reach new people, younger people, and a more diverse range of people to know Christ and the power of his resurrection! (See Philippians 3:10)
Let’s anticipate and pray for the light of Christ to surround and fill all the churches in our area, so that the light of Christ dawns and shines out of our lives and witness! The risen Christ is with us; thanks be to God!
Gail Angel, Your D.S.
Southern Hills District:
Rev. Gail Angel
641 Steubenville Ave.
Cambridge, OH 43725
Phone: (740) 255-5691
Fax: (740) 255-5693
Monday through Thursday
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
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