September 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends in Christ,

Summer is viewed by many as a season for rest and relaxation, as a time to think happy thoughts and have fun. This summer, however, some of us within the church took a couple of hours each week to be challenged and inspired by the lives of courageous Christians, men and women who through their faith and sacrifice truly made a difference in the lives of others, who bore witness to what Christian commitment really entails.

For example, we reflected on the life of Sir Thomas More who refused to bow to the pressure of King Henry VIII and others in authority. He simply would not take a vow that was against his conscience. Sir Thomas More spent long months in prison and was ultimately beheaded for his convictions. We also pondered the life of William Wilberforce, a man who sacrificed his health, and the approval of many, in order to press for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in England. The story of the Ten Boom family and their efforts to shelter Jews from Nazi capture is well known. It is the story of a Christian clock maker and his grown daughters who were willing to risk arrest, imprisonment, the concentration camp, and even death, for the sake of others. Out of their Christian commitment to love their neighbors and open their doors to the oppressed, they felt called to reach out to their Jewish brothers and sisters in need. They could not sit idly by while others suffered and died. We were also inspired by the story of missionaries to Ecuador in the 1950's, who faced the dangers of life in the heart of the Amazon jungle among the violent Wandani tribe. Their calling was to bring a more peaceful lifestyle and to offer the gospel of Jesus Christ to this isolated region. The men in this missionary party lost their lives, but the women and children persevered to bring the saving gifts of God's love and peace. Finally, we considered the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, professor, pastor, and theologian, who was moved by conscience to join the resistance movement against Hitler and the Nazis. His book "The Cost of Discipleship" continues to be a great spiritual classic and his letters from prison are thought provoking as well. Bonhoeffer's own imprisonment and subsequent execution speak to his willingness to pay a dear price for the sake of Jesus Christ.

I hope you all had a pleasant summer. I hope you face the fall season with renewed energy and vitality. I also encourage you to consider the state of our world and recognize that people of profound Christian commitment, people moved and empowered by the love of God, folks who are devoted to peace and justice, servants of Christ who love others as Christ has love them, are needed in our world today as much as ever. Discipleship is not easy. The call to follow Jesus is never a casual thing. May we be inspired by the stories of those who have gone before us to offer our lives in faith and service to Jesus Christ, believing that God's reign comes near whenever we walk according to God's will.

God bless you all,

Rev. Peggy Ann Sauerhoff