Our whole team is finally together here in Lebanon, and this evening we have made it to the Dhour Choueir Conference Center in the mountains above Beirut. We are preparing for a light dinner before the consultation with NESSL and its global partners begins tomorrow. Because some of us are still jet-lagged (including the author!), this will be a short post. But because we are in a land of deep faith with our brothers and sisters in Christ, a short post will offer the depth of what we have come to be a part of and the love of Jesus which is palpable, always reaching out to touch.
We gathered today with the Presbyterians of the Rabieh Church, which shares ground with the Synod offices of NESSL and the Beirut Evangelical School for Girls and Boys. This faithful congregation is led by Assis George Mourad, and today in worship he gave the pulpit to Assis Rob Weingartner. Rob preached on Colossians 3:12-17, a rich text that comes after Paul’s set-up and that word he uses to turn the text to us: therefore. It comes 2:6 in this way: “As you therefore have received Christ…”
And when we pick it up in 3:12 Paul tells us to throw off our old clothes and clothe ourselves with new: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. We are to bear with one another and clothe ourselves with love, which binds everything together. These new clothes make real for others the love of Jesus, and not for our sake, but for the glory of God.
Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, a region known for its textiles, was a good place for this analogy of clothing. They made wool and were known for their fine red cloth. This new cloth, woven from that list above whose strongest fiber is love, is the new covering for God’s people, his church, which is now an exhibition of the kingdom of Heaven to the world.
Some of our group saw these specially clothed, God-glorifying new creations at work in Tyre in southern Lebanon yesterday at the Presbyterian church led by Assis Amir. There, as in other places in this small country, the church is caring for its Syrian neighbors, displaced by a war now in its sixth year. They are providing clothing and food and education for the children.
And this is one story of many we shall see and experience in our days ahead from the churches in Lebanon and especially the churches in Syria. Their new clothes shine God’s glory brightly. You might need sunglasses.
That is the end of the blog for this Sabbath day, but here is a small extra to enjoy and cherish. The Arabic speaking churches have a beautifully sung Lord’s Prayer that is a blessing to be in the midst of. We heard it today. You can hear it by clicking HERE.
West Hills (Presbyterian) Church, Omaha, Nebraska