Recent letter sent to First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster PA for their 275th anniversary!

Dear Friends in Christ:

Congratulations on your 275th anniversary as a congregation following and serving our Lord!

As part of your 250th celebration in 1992, you also invited me back, and I remember what a privilege it was to return to preach and renew wonderful relationships. I wish I could be back again to rejoice with you in person, but the distance and timing prevent our participation. Know that my wife Bobbi and I offer prayers of thanksgiving for you, for your faithful witness and loving mission all through the years.

Scan6578We were incredibly blessed by our time with FPC. Those were such callow, formative years for us. I arrived directly from Princeton Seminary with much more enthusiasm than wisdom. But you and your predecessors embraced us with grace and patience and affirmation that helped us flourish. You gave us a baby shower and celebrated with us when our first child was born; David is now thirty-three and has made us grandparents twice.  You encouraged us to stay in Lancaster, providing an interest-free down payment for us to purchase our first home. By the way, your assistance plus the sweat equity we put into 118 North Ann Street gave us a foothold into home ownership, now reflected in the lovely home we enjoy today.

Since leaving Lancaster in 1985, we added twins Rachel and Jordan to our family constellation. We lived in Pittsburgh 1985-1993 where I was pastor of Forest Hills Presbyterian Church. From there we moved to Cincinnati and Northminster Presbyterian Church. Two years ago I accepted a call to North Lake Presbyterian Church in central Florida.

This past march our current congregation observed the 25th anniversary of its charter. North Lake looked back and celebrated a meteoric rise from a new church development to an average Sunday worship attendance of nearly 1400 and a dynamic missional impact in the community. Several charter members were in attendance as well as the founding pastor, so we had all North Lake senior pastors present for the worship and reception on that day. At the time I pointed out that the church where I was ordained, FPC of Lancaster, PA, was exactly 250 years older. That put things in a healthy perspective. We are in this journey of faith for the long haul, and you have exemplified that.

I know you don’t have any charter members attending your celebration. Nor do you have all of your prior pastors, even those of us who are still laboring in the earthly kingdom. But you have been a light shining for the Lord in that city and region since the historic Great Awakening in the colonies. May you continue to fulfill your calling and be part of another spiritual awakening that pleases God and animates the coming generations!

Yours in Christ’s love,

Jeff

The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey A. Hosmer
FPC, Lancaster – Associate Pastor (1981-1985)

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“Bashert”

“I never stop to talk to others when I’m out walking for exercise,” he remarked after we’d already been talking for more than fifteen minutes. We had converged on a water fountain at the base of a large water tower dominating Hilltop Road in our neighborhood. My wife Bobbi and I often make that our destination for an evening walk. We had just finished taking turns for a long drink before heading back to our home. A smiling stranger arrived for the same purpose, and his congenial, inquisitive nature got the better of him.

So we stood and talked. Cordial greetings became an engaging exchange about family, house purchases, community history, and a sense of awe or gratitude at how things work out in life. He was seasoned with a few more years, but active physically and mentally. I noticed how much I was enjoying his company even if it extended our planned time for the walk. Bobbi seemed to feel the same, and said so afterwards. Several times we started to pull away and head off in our different directions, and then some new point of contact or overlapping interest was discovered. Finally, after a half hour of delightful conversation, we happened to figure out that he was the uncle of a neighbor who had recently moved from across the street. It added another whole layer to our enthusiasm for the moment we shared at a water fountain.

By that point he knew my profession as a Presbyterian pastor. We also knew he was rooted in the Jewish faith. He reached his hand out to my elbow and held it as he said, “In Yiddish we have a word, bashert, that means ‘it was meant to be.’ I think our time here, our random intersection at the water fountain, is bashert. I am so glad I walked this way tonight and I met you both.” He knew of our impending move to FL and that we would not have any more chance encounters at the water tower. But the cheerful, hearty half-hour was enough. It was bashert. We bid farewell fondly, as if conferring a blessing upon each other.

Just a few minutes later, on our return walk, his niece (our former neighbor whom we had not seen for several months!) drove by and stopped to greet us. We were thrilled to report that we had just enjoyed meeting her uncle. How wonderful to sense the meant-to-be encounters and opportunities that God sets before us. Yet I wonder how many of them I have missed because I was in a hurry, or because I don’t stop to talk when I’m walking for exercise, or because I just don’t notice someone smiling or grimacing with pain. Let’s stay alert to the opportunities to bless one another in the daily walk of life!

One anothering

My occasional ventures into blogging at this site will intend to enhance our “one anothering” in the spirit of Jesus who said:

34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”      John 13:34-35 NRSV

The Biblical Greek word for the reciprocal pronoun “one another” is allelous, so that works as the title for this blog-site.  In one of my favorite chapters (Romans 12), Paul declares that we are “one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another.”  Then he proceeds to several imperatives:

  • Love one another with mutual affection.
  • Outdo one another in showing honor.
  • Live in harmony with one another.

This kind of allelous living is my prayer, my starting point for reflection, and a focus for pastoral leadership.  I also welcome your insights and experiences.  After all, one anothering is reciprocal!