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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

May 2013

~Go Out in Joy, Be Led Back in Peace~

“Ho, let everyone who thirsts come to the waters; and you that have no money, come!

 You shall go out in joy and be led back in peace.

~Isaiah 55:1, 12



Members and Friends,

            On Sunday, April 14, Bower Hill Church completed its third solar-powered water purification system in Haiti, where waterborne diseases kill many.  On that day, our church held worship services in two locations: one in Mt. Lebanon and another high in the mountains of southern Haiti, at a place poetically named “Camp Perrin” (or “Falcon Cottage”).  At 1:00 p.m., we would conduct an opening ceremony for the new water system—a moving event that would culminate in every villager raising a paper cup of clean water to his or her lips.  In the meantime, our team paused for Sunday morning worship.  The sermon was taken from Isaiah 55:1-5, 10-12.  Here’s what was said:

            Think back to the days leading up to this trip. Remember it all: the packing, the planning, the emails, the shoulders aching with new vaccines.  Remember the nervous qualms on that very short night before we headed off to the airport, long before sunrise.  Think how we fretted through the airport security lines, tugging at our shoestrings, going barefoot through the metal detector.  That morning seems so long ago!  Even just the bumpy ride from Porte-au-Prince to this place feels like a childhood dream, half-eroded by time.  All the hundreds of details and errands that time’s hand is already beginning to erase from memory.  Tell me: Did we not “go out in joy?”  Did we not go out into God’s big world with our cares and our baggage—both literal and figurative, but all of it heavy—did we not come to Camp Perrin, Haiti, in joy? 

            Joy is not the absence of care.  Quite the contrary, joy is caring enough about the world around you that you invest your energies in its well-being.  Joy is the first sight of Haiti from the airplane window, its coffee-colored river discharging into a crystal blue sea.  Joy is the warm embrace of a stranger’s arms when we arrived at last at Camp Perrin.  Joy is the surprise rediscovery of the little girl Béthanie, and the first drops of pure water streaming from our newly-installed system.  (Water, the essence of life!)  Joy is to take risks for the life of the world.  We have gone out in joy.  We have been welcomed in joy.  We have walked alongside these people in joy, and sweat, and toil, in our common lot as creatures of God’s earth and recipients of God’s bounty.  We have gone out in joy, and joy is not mirth; it is mission. 

            And—though our work here is not entirely finished—today we begin the homeward journey…“to be led back in peace.”  Nothing we have done here is our own proud accomplishment.  We have relied entirely on the kindness of strangers and on good collaboration with Haitian brothers and sisters.  We have relied on the generosity of people back home.  We have relied, as always, on the sufficient grace of our example, Jesus Christ, in whose name we have dared to step out into this big world.  All that we have seen and done here, count it all joy! 

            And now, people of God—children of joy—be led back in peace.  Take this sometimes heavy burden of joy back to your same old world.  And there, as here, let everyone who thirsts come to the waters.  Amen. 

By the way, I’m adding the Haiti Seven to our worship attendance count for that Sunday!