May Pastor’s Message

1 Peter 1:3-7a

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish—an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you. Through his faithfulness, you are guarded by God’s power so that you can receive the salvation he is ready to reveal in the last time.

You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials. This is necessary so that your faith may be found genuine. 

Dear First United Church of Christ family,

First Peter is a letter included in the Bible that was written to a universal audience, unlike the earlier letters that were written to individual churches to address their particular issues. It seems pretty universal, since it leaps off the page right now in its relevance in this moment.

Easter is not one Sunday of the year. Easter is not a season of the church. Easter is an every day of the week, every day of the year reality that we live and breathe. With Christ, we were born anew and received an inheritance as God’s beloved children. We don’t put that away on the Monday after Easter, or on Pentecost Sunday when the Easter church season is over. Every Sunday is Easter, every day is Easter because we are in the midst of God’s redeeming will through Jesus’ body and the Spirit’s action.

We “rejoice in this hope” that is our Easter reality; even though we are “distressed for a short time by various trials.” The earliest church that First Peter is addressing knew the reality of trials; martyrdom was a stark reality, familial rejection was a real consequence, and social, economic, political and criminal repercussions were everywhere. For First Church, today, we are in touch with distress. Global pandemic, social and financial disparity, and churches’ struggles in an increasingly secular world make our struggle very real. 

We rejoice in hope, and we will always rejoice in hope. We pray for one another, we stand in solidarity with those in need. we partner with God to be people who don’t weep at the foot of the cross; we’re too busy looking beyond the empty tomb toward the dawning reality of a God whom death and empires bow to in submission.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Joel

pastor.joel@firstucchellertown.com