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Pastor’s Letter

Dear friends,

I’m in the early stages of study for our upcoming sermon series entitled “We Can’t Stay Here: the life and times of Moses.” I’ve always loved the book of Exodus, and this series gives us another chance to dive deeply into a story that is of immeasurable importance in our journey of faith.

One of the themes we’ll wrestle with is the remarkable sense of irony throughout the book of Exodus — the ways God uses the most unlikely people to bring about radical change. Think about the first two chapters alone, when God uses five women to save Israel from the brutality of Pharaoh.

God then uses Moses, a slave’s baby who faced sure and certain death … and his young sister, Miriam, who went to the river that day armed with a plan that would deliver all of Israel.

Irony and surprise is everywhere.

We’re facing some challenges these days, aren’t we. Nationally, sure; but I’m thinking mostly about the challenges we face as a community.

Last Friday night I had dinner with the retired police commander of Hickory who asked, “What’s going on in Salisbury?”

There’s no doubt that Salisbury has elements of being that quintessential Southern town described in a “Bury Home Companion.” The lovely sense of home, the rich appreciation of history, and the beauty of culture surround us in Salisbury.

But so does the sound of gunfire and the daily reminder that local drug addiction has taken a heavy, heavy toll.

Irony.

One of the things I love most about Exodus is the way God surprises us over and over again, using the most unexpected of people to do remarkably liberating things.

Who are we to suggest that God might not be ready to do the same thing here in Salisbury? Might God be preparing unexpected persons to rise up and be messengers of liberation and peace? One never knows.

One thing I’ve noticed about Salisbury is that we tend to go to the same people over and over again for answers, contributions, and leadership. No doubt, many of these folks have been incredibly wise and generous over the years.

But as I look into the future, I find myself praying that God might be preparing someone like Miriam to be the next source of inspiration.

I wonder who that could be. Might it be you? Might it be someone you currently mentor? One never knows.

Another thing I’ve learned over the years: don’t underestimate the power of young people. And don’t question God’s use of Divine Irony to bring hope and inspiration to people living in darkness.

So, what do we do in challenging times like these?

Here’s a suggestion: like Miriam, let’s imagine a future that is filled with hope and possibility for all, not just a few.

And like Miriam, let’s dare to let God use us — yes, us — as his agents of hope for this weary world. As ironic and surprising as that may be.

Thanks for your partnership, friends. I’ll see you in church.

Pastor Rhodes

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