Because of expected ice storm on Sunday January 9, only 8:30 worship will take place onsite.

April 2, 2020

A Pastoral Word. . .

By Rev. Mark Adams
April 2, 2020
With the world almost coming to a standstill with the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, it’s a good time for us to once again look to the past.  

This week a historical glance in the rearview mirror shows us a true example of sacrifice. I’m referring to a group of Christians who lived in the third century and faced something like what we are going through. They seem to have been inspired by the life and reputation of Epaphroditus, who risked his own health to help the Apostle Paul.  

In his book, Risk Takers, Malcolm Duncan says these Christians,
“…were known as ‘the Parabolani’ (based on the Greek word for ‘risking his life’ in Philippians 2:30). The movement began in Carthage in AD 252 and lasted several hundred years. It was a group of people willing to ‘risk everything’ for the sake of the Gospel.

Here’s the story: Like many other places around the same time, Carthage was petrified of the plague. It wrought death and disaster when it struck and it was merciless in its sweep, claiming the lives of all who stood in its path.  

So, when an outbreak of the plague struck the city in AD 232, the local authorities acted swiftly and decisively. Dead bodies were disposed of and those who were suspected of having been contaminated were put outside the city walls.  

The impact was enormous suffering and death and disease on an epic scale.  

The Bishop of Carthage at the time, Cyprian, also acted swiftly. He called the church together and invited them to go and live among the sick and dying. He challenged them to give up the comfort and security of their own well-being and to step into the world of the rejected and the forgotten. Cyprian gave the example of Epaphroditus as an inspiration.

The Parabolani became a movement that served the broken, the poor, the forgotten and the vulnerable. Inspired by the example of Epaphroditus, they too gave up the security of what they knew and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime as they served those whom others rejected.” 

I’m not suggesting we ignore physical distancing guidelines or that we refuse to obey the law set down by our Governor. I’m saying this is a time to follow the example of our third century brothers and sisters and embrace SELFLESS SERVICE instead of FEAR. In behaving this way, we too would be following the example of Epaphroditus---and ultimately Jesus, Who,
“…being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…” 

People all around us NEED us to respond to this pandemic in a way that shows we have Christ in our hearts by putting the needs of others above our own. This is an amazing opportunity for us to start another “Parabolani movement!”

Keep the SON in your eyes!
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