Pastor’s Page

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Pastor John LaMantia, Executive Director

(May)

“Is it possible for a mother, however disappointed, however hurt, to forget her nursing child?  Can she feel nothing for the baby she carried and birthed?  Even if she could, I, God, will never forget you.  Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands”. ~ Isaiah 49:15-16

 

I Have Made You A Part of Me 

He was four years old going on forty and he had taken a grown woman to the edge. I’m not sure to the edge of what but she was there. Now he was in a seething sort of time out so she could find a moment to recover. She took a breath, prayed for wisdom and headed down the hall to “make peace.”  She had expected motherhood to be hard sometimes. She had not foreseen that her much desired child would be such a keen and relentless adversary.

She quietly opened the bedroom door and found him on his small knees beside his bed, head bowed, praying. Her heart melted on the spot. All was forgiven. She was already baking him cookies in her head. “What are you doing, Sweetheart? Are you asking God to make you a good boy?” she inquired. “No,” he calmly answered. “I am praying to Jesus to make YOU go away!”

The 49th chapter of Isaiah has woven throughout it a bearing-and-birthing kind of love with respect to God and his people. There is, in fact, a word for “love” in the Hebrew which is related to the word for a woman’s womb. God loves His people the way a mother loves and carries the child conceived in her. The text goes a step beyond to emphasize that even if a human mother could forget her child, God would never disavow what had been made part of Him because He cannot reject Himself.

Many of the souls we serve and even some people reading this newsletter, have a wound inflicted by a parent that has blighted their lives. A wound that leaves one with self doubts and a sense of estrangement from humanity in general. Left with a sense of being all alone and truly unlovable due to some unknown fault of their own.

It is a God who has not forgotten, who will never renounce, who will always bear us upon His heart; it is this God who is our peace. He not only consoles but is our very consolation.

Just like the small boy in the story above, we sometimes pray God away because we want our own way. God isn’t going anywhere. Even if we find our lives in a time out, He is at the door and His love comes with Him. This is the message we need to share. This is the truth that offers a born-again reality that hushes the lie that we are alone.

Forty men and women trusted the promise of God last month in Chapel. Forty men and women found themselves not alone. We are here to help them embrace a truth bigger than the loss they have lived with. God holds on! God holds on!

Fast forward forty years and our boy has been released from time out. He is on his way home from his job working in the emergency room. He pulls his cell out in the parking lot and dials a number. A familiar voice answers. He hears the welcome in her tone. “Hi, Mom. I’m leaving work. I just wanted to take a minute to call and let you know how glad I am that I have you in my life.” “What? No, I don’t need to borrow money. I was just thinking about you.” (It all comes right when God is family.)

Someone said that nothing is ever really lost unless Mom can’t find it. There is One more relentless than Mom who searched for us and found us. We will each find our name written on His nail scarred hands.

Blessings to all the women who have spoken into our lives and given us their protection. Blessings to all the ones who did not and who need our forgiveness.

Happy Mothers Day,

Pastor John LaMantia

 


(April)

Thank You for Joining Us at the Cross

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

There is a woman in town who works in the mental health field and who also has been involved in rescuing horses. I have followed her exploits with keen interest and considerable amazement. Animals with signs of neglect and abuse so profound they looked more dead than alive have been revived under her care and the care of her family and friends. At the same time these nearly gone horses have revived their human helpers. (This last part I completely understand having myself flourished under the ministrations of an Australian Shepherd named, “Sasha.”)

The first act of redemption for the horses was a change of ownership. That change took them from the pens where they were held for destruction but it did not heal them. For them to become horses again it was going to take inner healing. Their diet had to change. Their rotten coats had to be groomed as trust and the will to live was communicated directly to their hearts by patient hands with a brush and a comb.

Their journey has been amazing. One of these evenings in Chapel our horse rescuer will share the full story with people who are themselves in need of rescue.

Easter is ahead of us. What a season to consider the work of One who changed our ownership and who set about to heal us from the inside out. One who ministers to us daily the living hope His death and resurrection made possible. One who is restoring us to usefulness.

Like the fig tree in Luke 13 that was condemned to be destroyed for lack of fruit, we have been spared by the careful Gardner but the choice to flourish is our own. Essayist, Debbie Thomas, makes some good points worth asking ourselves. “In what ways am I like the fig tree?  Un-enlivened? Un-nourished?  Unable or unwilling to nourish others?  In what ways do I feel helpless or hopeless?  Ignored or dismissed?

What kinds of tending would it take to bring me back to life?  Am I willing to receive such intimate, consequential care?  Will I consent to change? Might I dare to flourish in a world where I have thus far been invisible? “

Part of this ministry God has given the Mission is to feed and to shelter but “consequential care” that involves communicating trust and safety, offering an invitation so personal that it can hardly be missed. Offering an opportunity to heal from the inside and to share that healing with others. To see hope come alive. To this end the precious Word of God is our brush and comb.

Thank you for joining us at the Cross.

May the bright hope of the Resurrection enliven every area of our lives and produce a beauty and a fruitfulness that is the Glory of our Savior.

Happy Easter,

Pastor John


(March 2019)

The Future is Christ

Earthquakes, politics, riots, the economy. . .   This world makes a lot of noise. Sometimes all I hear is the noise and not the music. That is quite an admission for a musician. Sometimes the noise is national or international but most often it is closer to home. Often it is in my spirit. Often it threatens to drown out the still small voice that soothes, directs, comforts and inspires. You too?

Our brother Matthew, who knew something about taxes, corruption, politics and persecution, about sleeping in fields and needing to find food also knew about having a friend in God. He knew about how your life changes from natural to supernatural when God chooses you. He knew how to get out of the shadow this world casts and to walk in the shadow of the Almighty. He knew about the safety of a boat where divinity sleeps.

I have been looking at the beginning of a perfect storm. A proposed state budget revision to downsize funding for homeless services*, the elimination of a need for individuals to itemize on federal tax returns that might cause people to give less because they don’t need the deduction and the aging out of a generation of people who believed in first fruit giving, these may all combine to adversely impact many social service agencies and nonprofits including the Mission. Almost everyone I have spoken to has a concern or a comment. It woke me out of a sound sleep several times. I tried to tell Kathy it was coffee I drank too close to bedtime but it was really the noise in my unquiet heart. I care about the work we do here. I care about the people we serve. I care about the people who partner with us. The TV, radio and newspaper were all telling me how hard it was going to be.

Then I spoke with people my heart needed to hear. I spoke with the people we serve.

I spoke with a former homeless gentleman who now shares space in Sutton House. He was able to move into an affordable home, continue to attend groups and maintain employment. Over a meal he let me know that we were an answer to prayer. A miracle. A lady shared with me that she did not know where to turn and was friendless and without direction until she found a bed at the Mission. Her life has made a 180. A miracle. A married couple is living together in mutual sobriety, working, worshiping, walking out their dreams. A miracle. Over and over I heard, “Pastor John, God made it good for me here.”

God is the miracle. That miracle is always on time.

I am taking Matthew’s advice. God will help us with whatever hard thing comes. He has treasure set aside for just such a time as this. He will bless and empower those of you who are willing to be the paymasters of His mission fields. We have found Him faithful in the past, this unchangeable One. He will be faithful as we move forward helping the lost to find a miracle.

I came to work to find a frail, eighty-year-old woman with a suitcase standing in the snow in our parking lot. “I just need help for one night,” she said. Sometimes one night can give you back your life. We are going to continue to plan for the future because the future is Christ. I know you will come with us.

Blessings and ten thousand besides!

Pastor John

* The Mission runs entirely on donations. While we will not suffer the loss of state funds other homeless services in our area will. This will surly result in an increased need for the services we provide.