A Reformed congregation in Milan, Italy (Chiesa Evangelica Riformata ‘Filadelfia’ [CERF]), hosted a conference on April 25-26, 2014. Speaker Rev. William Boekestein (Covenant URC in Carbondale, PA) addressed six subjects related to marriage and family, based primarily on Colossians 3:17-21.
In his introduction on Friday, Rev. Boekestein discussed family dynamics. “Without question, relationships can be difficult,” he said. “But relationships are worthwhile because they are the contexts in which we ‘do all in the name of the Lord Jesus’ (Col. 3:17). At the same time, God promises grace to help us in our relationships. And Jesus himself provides the perfect pattern in both relationship leadership and relational submission.”
His second lecture offered biblical advice to young people seeking to marry in the Lord, advocating a “counter-cultural” approach. He said, “This talk promoted significant discussion considering the fact the CERF is the only confessional reformed church in the country. The very real question confronts the congregation: ‘How will our children marry in the Lord?’ Pray that God would direct the young people of the church to godly spouses.”
Saturday’s two talks explained the biblical concepts of submission and servant leadership within marriage. “The callings of both wives and husbands are extremely difficult,” he said. “But when we learn to focus on our own responsibilities, and trust that God’s plan is best, we will find great reward in spite of the challenges.”
In concert with the conference, Rev. Boekestein preached twice on Sunday. His morning sermon on Colossians 3:21 urged parents to “create home atmospheres in which obedience is desirable and possible.” He said, “Our goal is to make grace shine in the home and to help our children come to Jesus for all of their cares.”
His evening sermon addressed family worship. “In some ways, family worship is the regular exercise that shapes the Christian piety in the home,” he said. “Homes in which vibrant family worship is practiced often produce godly and well-adjusted family members.”
Chiesa Evangelica Riformata ‘Filadelfia’ is a church plant functioning under the oversight of the Christ URC consistory in Santee, CA. Each year CERF sponsors theological conferences in the spring and fall. The spring seminar focuses on family, while the fall conference explores topics related to the Reformation.
Reflecting on his visit to Italy, Rev. Boeksestein shares, “My wife Amy and I were overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality we received in Milan. We were also reassured of God’s goodness in fulfilling his promise to grow a church even in the hardest soil. It was evident to us that this church loves God, they love the Bible, and they love each other. There seems to be a deep kinship between pastor and congregation and a great desire to see God’s gospel expand over Italy as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9).”
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 11 of the May 28, 2014, issue of Christian Renewal.