Source: Sherman Publications

Spiritual matters
‘You all shall remain in my prayers, may God bless’

June 15, 2011

It is with a heavy heart that I am bidding this loving Ortonville community farewell. I have been appointed by my bishop to Ypsilanti First United Methodist Church as of July 1 and am already in full packing mode for our move. I would like to share some closing thoughts and prayers with you who are to continue on your journeys of faith here in this place. I begin with these words from the Apostle Paul to the church at Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-5:22: Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (NIV)

Serving in this community has been a labor of love and it is important to understand that one cannot separate the two by laboring without loving or loving yet not found laboring – they simply must exist hand in hand.

Over the course of the last six years of my tenure here in Ortonville, I have witnessed such a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit as witnessed through the prayers, presence and deeds of so many in our community. The support for local missions through your local churches and community groups are a lasting tribute to a true spirit of stewardship and discipleship in love of neighbor.

But history guides us to be ever vigilant in keeping our community safe and healthy. We always need to be on guard for the rise of personal agendas over God’s will for us to live serving and loving our neighbors. Much has been accomplished and yet much more needs to be done. It is critical that we as faithful Christians and good citizens remain committed, involved, and inspiring one another to an ever deepening love and service. New ideas, programs, visions, and goals need to be dreamt, discussed, tried, tested, and implemented where fruitful. May we always remember that it is more important to share the blessings of life than to simply have such blessings. In the reading I provided, Paul is pleased with their work, so he just wanted them to understand that they still need to be on guard so that they don’t rest on their laurels or become routine and mechanical in what they do for Christ and for each other.

More wisdom can be gleaned from this passage in the form of details of how we can continue being productive, spirit-filled, active Christians working for God’s Kingdom. I believe that we must maintain a level of respect for those in authority in our community. We may disagree with their ideas and policies at times, but we should continue to show a modicum of respect for the public office in which they serve. I believe that we should strive to live in peace with our neighbors. One of the best ways for this type of “peace” to occur is for all of us to serve with their God-given gifts, letting others use their gifts and then respect and love one another for what God is doing through them.

Remember....the Holy Spirit is alive and at work everywhere and in everyone....the challenge is for us to discern the presence of that power so that we might encourage each spark and fan each flame! Peace is a two-way street! This type of peace comes when all work together to build the Kingdom of God and to serve one another. I agree with the Apostle Paul that we all need to encourage the timid or fainthearted in life and help the weak. This instruction is a command that has nothing to do with age, social status, gender, race, or competence, but with those who are lacking confidence in themselves or their faith. We are all called by our common humanity to walk alongside one another in our lives. We need to lift up everyone and give them the support they need to build their confidence in order to carry on through life. We are to truly love one another!

My time here in Ortonville is drawing to a close but my heart is gladdened by the real and present presence of the Holy Spirit working in and through so many of you here in the greater Ortonville area. I call each of you to recommit your lives to living and giving this community a reason to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God is a loving God. May your growing relationship with God give others cause to seek such a relationship for themselves, through Christ, that is loving, personal, and intimate.I close with these words from the Apostle Paul as my prayer for each of you..... “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

You all shall remain in my prayers as I hope my family and I remain in yours. God bless!

The Rev Tim Dibble is pastor of Ortonville United Methodist Church