Peltz, 27, leads First Presbyterian Church, a 75-person-and-growing intergenerational congregation in a rural city, Defiance, OH (pop~15000, halfway between Toledo and Fort Wayne). General Motors’ foundry employs some 1300 in Defiance, where both Mitt Romney and John McCain held popular rallies during their presidential campaigns.
My plan before the Boston bombings was to preach on the Apostle Paul’s final days. I was going to emphasize how Paul addressed the culture in the places he found himself; talking like Romans in Rome, Jews in Jerusalem, and so on.
However, my congregants have expressed a great amount of fear for their own lives in response to the tragedy at Boston. In a time of uncertainty and fear of their own security, people in my church asked me: how do you know if you are safe? The short answer, of course, is that we never are. But the hope the church has to offer, and that we see clearly in the life of Paul, is that God never promises safety; comfort and hope are abundant, and life is promised, but safety isn’t ours to own. In Defiance, a town that has watched its brightest leave for the cities, they need to hear that a brighter future is coming.
Hope is the church’s business, and the most fearful among us look at Boston and wonder, “What about me? Am I safe?” This Sunday’s sermon will address what we don’t have—the assurance of safety—and what we do have: the promise that God is in the business of staring down darkness and bringing out light and new life from the darkest places of this world’s troubles.
Next Rev. Joseph A. C. Smith, assistant to the senior pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria, VA