Over the past few days my news feed and inbox have been overwhelmed with pleas for support from various para-church ministries. While many of these ministries do much good and are worthy of all support they can get, I cannot help but think of all the local congregations of God’s people  (especially smaller ones) that could greatly benefit from a similar show of support — not only from the financial boost, but also from the psychological boost of knowing that someone beyond their community cares about them and believes that their labor of love matters.

At this time of the year I imagine that many pastors (me included) feel as King Théoden did when he gathered his people at the fortress of Helm’s Deep and prepared for an intense battle against an fierce army of dark forces.

In the film version of Two Towers, Théoden and Aragorn discuss what the best course of action might be. They must choose between bad and worse.

THÉODEN: What would you have me do? Look at my men. Their courage hangs by a thread. If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance!

ARAGORN: Send out riders, my lord. You must call for aid.

THÉODEN: And who will come. Elves? Dwarves? We are not so lucky in our friends as you. The old alliances are dead.

ARAGORN: Gondor will answer.

THÉODEN: Gondor? Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell? Where was Gondor when our enemies closed in around us? Where was Gon…No, my lord Aragorn, we are alone.

Like Théoden, many congregational pastors and church planters know that their options are extremely limited when it comes to securing aid. Old alliances are gone and new ones are not yet formed. The End is an ever-present threat that weighs heavily on their hearts and minds; and it is easy to lose heart in this spiritual warfare — feel as if no one is willing or able to answer.

In the Two Towers film, aid comes to Théoden, first, in the form of Elves before the battle; then, after much struggle, in the form of Gandalf the Wizard and the Rohirrim after the battle.

But in the book, Tolkien tells a much different story.

After much struggling and fighting, when all hope seems lost, aid comes “unlooked-for” in strange and unexpected ways. It comes in the form of the Morning Dawn, the Elder Trees, a Rider on a White Horse, and a thousand horsemen with spears and shields.

In our language, aid came from the works of creation and creatures acting in what Gandalf described as “the far older power beyond the counsel of the wise.”

Thus, light overcame darkness and wonder overcame joy in victory.

Although I have often felt like King Théoden — especially in the aftermath of losing members, shrinking in size, and losing support — I agree with Aragorn that you must call for aid.

Not from anyone and everyone, but from the Lord.

As Christ Covenant Church embarks upon a New Year of gospel mission, we must call for aid and ask God

to fill us with the Spirit of wisdom and grace,

to make our gospel witness effectual and fruitful,

to grant us repentance of sins and obedience to his word,

to enable us to worship in spirit and truth,

to grow us up into Christ and equip us for service,

to supply all we need according to his gifts of grace,

to help us love and serve one another,

and so much more.

As we enter the New Year, let us call for aid by crying out to our Helper.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1 ESV)

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8 ESV)

God is faithful and he will send aid as and when it is needed most. In my experience, his aid usually comes in the desperate times, under dire circumstances, at the darkest hour, so that no flesh may boast except in the Lord alone.

We all know that we are small, weak, poor, in and of ourselves. Yet we must remember that we are rich, strong, and big in the grace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Lord be with you,

Pastor Marq

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