FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas (March 11, 2021) -- “Shine” was the theme of the Protestant Women of the Chapel’s two-part spring program March 9. This stems from the annual theme, “Arise, Shine, Glorify” after Isaiah 60:1.
Tosha Lovell, PWOC vice president of programs, focused on this idea during her message in the morning session of the program via Zoom.
“This is a message God has for his people in this time,” Lovell said. “It is a message for us at this very hour as we (conduct) PWOC during this pandemic and in the darkness of our world. We are to shine.”
Lovell said she looked through the Bible for an example of a person who exemplified the idea of being a light for Christ.
“While I know that I found that, I also found a very beautiful picture of Christ’s redeeming work and what it can look like when we’re in the dark and we mess it all up,” Lovell said. “We’re going to look at a very dark time in scripture and we’re going to find a disciple.
“One who has walked on water with Jesus, who named Jesus as Messiah and was present for his transfiguration. He was the one that impulsively cut off a servant’s ear when Jesus was arrested in the garden,” she said. “I want to look at Peter.”
Lovell described the scene of Peter’s thrice denial of Jesus following Jesus’ arrest.
“It was nighttime, so it was physically dark, but I can also imagine that this became a spiritually dark time for Peter also,” Lovell said. “In the darkness, Peter messed up. … When that rooster crowed, he wept bitterly because he knew (he messed up).”
Jumping forward to chapter 21 of the Gospel of John, Lovell said Peter is out on the water fishing after Jesus’s death and resurrection.
“Jesus had already revealed his resurrected self to the disciples and so maybe he’s just out there fishing out of hunger or maybe he’s fishing out of boredom, but because he wasn’t as close to Jesus anymore, maybe he turned back to his old ways,” she said. “Maybe he was looking for something to fill him up. He’s casting his net over and over and over and it’s coming up empty.”
Then, Lovell shifted the focus to Jesus’ discussion with Peter later in the chapter when he thrice asked Peter if he loved him before asking Peter to follow him again.
“Jesus asked him three times because he was redeeming that big mess up, that thing that happened in the dark. He was redeeming the thing that created the separation, the thing that caused Peter to turn back to his old ways,” Lovell said. “(Jesus is saying) ‘Don’t go searching anywhere else. I will give you your direction. Follow me.’
“(Jesus) is calling us, too, because following Jesus isn’t just a choice to follow but it’s also a command to go, to shine,” she said. “Peter is the same man who took his eyes off the Savior in the water. He denied him after knowing he was the Messiah and seeing him on the mountain in all of his glory…and the list could go on. That same Peter went on to heal so many.
“When the darkness comes or you feel far from God because you messed up, don’t forget that he meets you where you are. … Be near to him in his word and he will meet you there and satisfy you and then you are to follow him. … He will give you a direction and a purpose.”
In the evening session, PWOC members gathered at Frontier Chapel for prayer and worship, where the theme and idea behind Lovell’s message carried over in song and the request for members to surrender their burdens to God and think about ways to shine their light to others as Peter did.
“(It’s knowing) that even the closest follower of Jesus failed and that in our weaknesses that Jesus and God are still with us and loves us and will always accept us back,” said Judy Green, PWOC member. “I think it is so important for the body to be able to come back together to worship. Just as they were saying in one of their songs, what was meant for bad has been brought to good, and so I think we’re going to cherish those times so much more when we’re able to come back and be part of the body together.”
Ashley Saulnier, PWOC member, said coming together in spiritual worship is essential.
“Spiritual worship is essential to our growth, to our stability, to our maturity, and when that’s stunted by not being able to be around our sisters in Christ or the people that help us most grow spiritually then that’s what makes things more difficult,” she said. “Having an in-person event really draws optimism, hope and revives our faith and rejuvenates us, so I think this is wonderful to have this in-person and I hope it continues.”