We wish Rev. John Houlker and his wife Patty a wonderful retirement. Warwick Central was very fortunate to have had Rev John as our Pastor for over 12 1/2 wonderful years.
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In his "Daily Study Bible" series of commentaries, William Barclay includes a beautiful legend, a child's story, really, pertaining to the post-nativity flight to Egypt of Mary and Joseph, recorded in Matthew chapter 2. The legend goes that, being weary as evening came they sought refuge in a cave. It was cold enough that the ground was white with hoar frost. A little spider saw the little baby Jesus, and he wished that he could do something to somehow keep the child warm. He decided to that only thing he could do was spin his web across the entrance of the cave, to make, as it were, a curtain to protect against the cold air outside the cave. As fate would have it, along came a detachment of Herod's soldiers, in the midst of their mission to carry out Herod's order of death to all young children in the Bethlehem region. They approached the cave, and were about to burst in on a search and destroy maneuver, when the captain noticed the spider's web, covered with white frost, stretched across the entrance to the cave. The web being unbroken, he reasoned that no one could possibly have entered the cave, or else the web would be broken. So the soldiers went on their way, leaving the holy family in peace, because, in a moment of compassion, a little spider had offered the only thing he could. Now, it is sometimes said, that is why to this day we adorn our Christmas trees with tinsel. These glittering streamers represent the spider's web, stretched across the entrance of the cave.
This lovely story was, of course, composed in order to help little ones understand a great and wonderful truth. Even the smallest gifts given to Jesus will stand forever, and are never forgot. We are never asked to contribute what is beyond our abilities, gifts, and means. The Kingdom of God continues to be built on the faith of those believers who act on the belief that it is God who turns whatever we can offer into something of significance and beauty. We are only called to give the best of what we do have. The gifts of one small church like ours are being constantly multiplied in effectiveness to shine the light of Jesus throughout our community and world.
With this truth in our hearts, we proceed into the uncertainties of the New Year with passion and confidence that the one who calls and leads us on will provide all we need to fulfill his will for us. We are not a timid group, nor prone to despair. We have seen the Lord at work in our midst, and are confident that He will continue to go before us like "a pillar of fire shining forth in the night." All of us have a part in the mission and ministries of our beloved community of faith. Let's commit to weaving the very best web that we can in the coming year, in accordance with our pledge to: Grow in Christ, Share His Love, Serve His World.
In as much as I expectantly look to the future months unfolding with new and varied opportunities, I also mourn the passing of time, people, and situations that have meant so much over the years spent at WCBC. So I offer you these words from a Pastor's Page of many years back, in hopes that they will encourage you as they have me.
- It's OK to remember and weep for that which has been grasped from our midst, but not OK to obsess about what was at the expense of hope for the future.
- It's OK to love and learn from where we've been, but not to exclusion of loving and learning in the present and future.
- It's OK to remember and weep for lives that so touched ours, but not at the neglect of those whom God has given to us in this season of our life.
- It's OK to recognize and treasure the glories of our faith history, but not OK to ever think that the best of what the Lord has to offer is in the past.
- It's OK to weep and remember those situations and places and times which gave life such meaning and purpose, but not OK to let those tears cloud our vision of all God has prepared for us now, and tomorrow, and after that.
Go In Peace. Trust God. Live your faith. Be the Church.