Daniel 2:4 – Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it." (NIV)
I studied Aramaic for a year at seminary. It's a bit like biblical Hebrew, but not quite as lyrical or refined. It was fascinating to me to read the old language because scholars believed that Jesus Himself actually spoke Aramaic. You'll perhaps remember Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of Christ." Throughout the movie, Jesus and His disciples speak in Aramaic. It was Gibson's way of creating authenticity for his film.
Old languages have some wonderful single words that encapsulate a feeling, a phrase, or a fascinating idea. Take the name of our church, for example: we're called Erin. In the old Irish language, the name means "the beautiful isle". It was used to describe the whole island of Ireland, especially to those who lived on other shores. And when Irish immigrants came to America, they referred to the old country endearingly as "Erin". It captivated a heartfelt connection to the people and places they had left behind.
Those same Irish and Scots-Irish immigrants established the first church in West Knoxville 130 years ago, and called it "Erin Presbyterian Church". In the midst of their busy lives, they wanted a place of faith where they could share friendship and faith together. "Erin" was chosen as a reminder of where they had come from, but it also designated a beautiful isle of Christianity for the whole community. Anyone was welcomed through its doors, and for years, many Methodists worshipped alongside Presbyterians until they established their own church in the area.
Today, Erin Presbyterian Church is still a beautiful isle of faith in the midst of a rapidly growing community. On September 30, we celebrated our 130th anniversary with joy and humility, for we realize that God's blessing has allowed us to preach and practice Christ's gospel to this community of Bearden for all of those years.
Wherever we are and wherever we worship, may our churches be a "beautiful isle of faith" for the people of our communities. May they discover in our congregations a fellowship of faith and a sacred sanctuary, where all sorts of people find God's blessing, healing, and loving, through the power and presence of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all seek a special place in our lives where we can rest in Your love and abide in Your peace. Lead us to the beautiful isles of faith in our community, so that we may experience the holy joy and sacred gladness that You freely bestow on all who come to worship and glorify Your precious name. Amen.