Thank you for the many ways in which you have been a godly presence during this difficult time of our history. The coronavirus pandemic has created many global crises, such as health, economic, social, and others, resulting in what some have described as a season of uncertainties. But we also know that COVID-19 is not the only challenge that has created uncertainties in peoples’ lives. Many live daily in uncertainties because of the evil or social ills in our world.
We are encouraged to see the Church be the Church in all seasons: a people who represent and usher in God’s presence, and a people who live in the conviction that God’s presence is with us. His presence is transformational.
Our God has never been distant from His people! Throughout the Bible, there is a recurring theme of God’s desire to perpetually dwell with His people. God offers to make His dwelling place among His people, to be their God, and to walk, live, and be with them always. For instance, Ezekiel 37:27 says, “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” In John 14:16 Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” The idea of God dwelling with His people reflects His love for them and expresses hope for restoration and transformation resulting in a life of obedience to God and undivided love and loyalty before God.
In the Old Testament, the best representation of God’s presence was through the tabernacle and later the temple. The tabernacle gave confidence to the people of Israel that God’s presence was with them throughout their journey in the wilderness. It convinced them that His power was in their midst.
In the New Testament, God’s presence is best expressed through the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah. In Jesus, God came to dwell among His people. This represents the inauguration and fulfillment of God’s presence that will last forever. Therefore, even though Jesus was going to return to the Father, Jesus assured His followers that the presence of God would continue to be with them through the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit would come to be a continued presence of God in the world.
This is significant for the Church, for it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we come to understand, live, and grow in God’s presence. Living and growing in God sets us free from sin and the bondage of sin. The Spirit revives and shapes the Church, attuning it to God’s holy purposes for His creation. This is also significant because through the work of the Holy Spirit, God continues to draw and awaken everyone to his or her need for Him.
Therefore, let us hold on to the hope we have in God and the truth that He is with us and at work to redeem His creation. Sin and brokenness will not have the final word. There is hope for restoration and transformation, and we get to be participants with God in His mission in the world.
–Board of General Superintendents
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