All That She Had...
Yesterday, our confirmation class - Brenna, Chandler, Baylor, and Austin - held their lemonade stand to support Imagine No Malaria at Gayle's Quick Stop. We are thankful to the folks at Gayle's who were kind enough to let us set up there - if you happen to stop by there, please thank them for their support. Thank you to everyone who came out to support them and to give so generously to save lives! The kids will announce a final tally this Sunday in church. I also want to thank Pam and Dianna for extra donations of goodies for the kids to sell. And, of course, a huge thank-you goes out to the families of the confirmands - Will, Tara, Chelsea, Dinah, Chris, Amie, Keith, Rad, and Michelle - who helped every step of the way.
One thing that happened yesterday that struck me was a woman who came over to our little corner of the lot at Gayle's to donate a handful of change. She was not a member of our congregation or family of any our kids. As far as I know, she had no reason to give than to encourage the kids and to help those who suffer under the threat of malaria. She came apologetically, offering less than a dollar's worth of coins. "I'm sorry. I don't have any more to give. I don't carry cash on me - all I have is my credit cards." The kids offered her a cup of lemonade, but she declined. She just wanted to give all that she had on her at the time to help.
It made me think of the story of how Jesus and the disciples watched the widow place her last two coins in the Temple treasury. Jesus pointed out that, though her offering was meager, she gave more than those who gave larger amounts out of their abundance because she gave all she had, little as it was. Perhaps this woman we met yesterday gave out of abundance of wealth and may never miss those few coins she gave. Still, there is something striking about her desire to give all that she had with her. She did not give out of an abundance of care for the kids as many of us did, nor did she give because she had seen a video in church that morning showing the impact a small donation can have for those living under the constant threat of malaria. I suspect that she gave all she had with her simply because she was moved by seeing some youth trying to make a difference in the world. Blessed is the woman who would give to strangers that they in turn may help a number of other strangers a world away! Love for the stranger in our midst - that is the love of Jesus!
May we all be so moved to help the stranger in need!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Living in Community
The Future of the Church? A Second Thought
Last week, I wrote to you about the common phrase we say in church about the kids and youth: "They are the future of our church." I questioned whether they are merely the future or just as much a part of the present as of the future. Since then, I've been thinking about who exactly is the future of the church. First, I thought of everyone will be at church this next Sunday and the following Sunday and the Sunday after that. Those of us who are here now and will be tomorrow are a part of the present and the future. I then thought about those who may not be here in the coming years because of moving to another place or inheriting the promise of the Resurrection. Even we who will not be here in a few years' time are a part of the future because the groundwork we are laying now and because of the gifts we give that may not be used until after we are gone.
Then I thought about another group of people who make up the future of our church: those who are not here yet. They are the folks in our community who are not a part of our present but may be a part of our future, if only we invite them to come and see the wonders of God and we welcome them with open arms into our church. The future of our church lies as much in those that we invite and welcome here as it does in those of us who are already here. When you walk through your neighborhood, when you go to a Little League game, when you shop at the grocery store, when you pass cars on the road on the way to church on Sunday morning, you are seeing the future of the church. What kind of future we have here at Port Church depends on how we invite and welcome them here. The future of the church depends on how we live out the call make disciples of Jesus Christ as we go through our lives. May we have the fire to say to the future of our church: "Come and see. Come and see that the Lord is good!"
Blessings on the journey,
Living in Community
The Future of the Church?
We have often heard it said of the youth and the children of the church: "They are the future of our church." Perhaps, we've said it ourselves - I know I have at times. This statement may be simple, but it is full of meaning. At times, it is proclaimed with a sense of pride when some of our younger folks take up the mantle of ministry for a short while and complete a task in the church - for example, leading worship, singing a song in worship, completing a mission project. Other times, it is stated even with a sense of hope, acknowledging that we adults will not be around forever but that our church and our legacy are in good hands if these are the young folks who will one day take over our roles in leadership. Still other times, it said instead with a sense of sacrifice and concession that we need to make less desirable decisions - such as style of music - now to appeal to the younger generation and ensure that they will continue to hang around until its their turn to lead.
This past Sunday, we (finally) celebrated our Youth Sunday, and what a great experience of worship it was! "They are the future of our church," it was said more than once. "There were our replacements up there." These were definitely offered in both the senses of pride and hope for the future, and very well they should be. We have much to be proud of and hopeful for in the youth that led worship this past week.
Yet, seeing the awesome, Spirit-filled presence of our youth this past Sunday, of our kids singing at Easter, of youth reading Scripture and offering prayers during Advent, of children teaching me (and I imagine all of us) through their questions and comments in the children's sermons week by week, I wonder if they are our future at all. Hearing from Isaac in his sermon about the conversations he has had with friends about God, listening to my own children pick apart my Easter Sunrise sermon at breakfast that morning, witnessing our kids' willingness to give whatever they have to help another person, I am convinced they are not merely the future of our church; they are very much our present as well. They are hearing the good news we teach in worship, in Sunday School, and on Wednesdays. They are watching how we worship God on Sunday mornings and how we serve God throughout the week. They are witnessing what we believe it means to follow Jesus, and they are living it now - not just planning to live it in the future. Sure, the children and youth may not be on our committees, they may not be funding the budget and all the emergency expenses, and they may not be filling in as Sunday School teachers. Yet, they are in ministry in the name of Jesus Christ in a real way and often in places where we could not be.
We are blessed that God has entrusted so many children and youth to our care for us to pass along the faith that was once handed down to us. May we adults remember to encourage and make room for our children and youth to be not only the future of our church but very much a part of its present as well!
Blessings on the journey,
Living in Community
A Holy Week
What a week it was this past Holy Week leading up to Easter! We had some powerful worship services as we gathered to remember both Jesus' death and his Resurrection. I am thankful to everyone who came out to one of worship services, especially to those who gathered on Friday afternoon to walk through and pray over our village. We spent over an hour and half walking and praying for the needs of our community! I am also grateful to all who set up our worship space, read Scriptures, and led music in our services, especially to our awesome group of kids who worked many weeks to learn their song for Easter service. It was a great week to join in worship together, and we have much to be thankful for.
In addition to our times of worship, last week was also powerful because of the called meeting of our council to discuss the purchase of a new bus, the repair of a stained glass window, and the replacement of our treasurer's computer. We met for about two hours to discuss these important matters. Presentations were made on each issue, questions were asked, options were considered, and, in the end, each was approved overwhelmingly. I am thankful all the folks who worked so hard to prepare for this meeting - the New Bus Team, the Trustees, and the Finance Committee - and for the Council that faced important decisions with diligence, humor, and joy.
We are moving forward with the purchase of a bus from Kingmor; after they finish maintenance on it and paint it for us, we should have the bus in the next month or so in time for us to use it for VBS this year! The bus will cost us roughly $16,000 - a great deal on a lower mileage bus. We have had donations and pledges for the bus totaling $4,000 from you. Last fall, the finance committee recommended using roughly $12,000 of our reserves as a potential down payment on a bus. Combining these two, we have the $16,000 we need for our new bus. God has a way of making things works out! I am thankful to all who have already contributed in support of our bus ministry. Please continue to support your pledge throughout the year if you made one, or if you feel led to make a contribution at this time, that would help us to meet any additional incidental cost in the course of the purchase.
This week, we will begin the process of having the window over the red front door of the sanctuary repaired. It will be removed, taken apart, pieced back together, and put back in place over the course of the next couple of months. This repair will cost us about $3,800. In receiving bids for this work, we have also realized that we will have a lot of repair work to do on our beautiful windows in the next decade and beyond. Our large window will likely be the next to need our attention. Keeping our windows in good shape will be a large task and will require a good deal of funding in both the short term and the long term. If you enjoy our stained-glass windows, please consider making a contribution toward their upkeep this year and in the years to come.
We have made some important decisions over the past week - to enable us to grow our bus ministry and to ensure that our windows will be an inspiration to the generations to come. We have much to be thankful for - the faithfulness of God and your generosity in making the work of Christ come to life here at Port Church! Thanks be to God for a Holy Week filled with power and for the privilege of the work that lies ahead! May we remain faithful to the work to which God has called us in the name of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Blessings on the journey,
Faith Facts: The Gospels
Our Bible has four books that we call gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. So what is a gospel anyway? The word "gospel" simply means "good news." For us, the stories these four books tell about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are indeed good news that gives us hope for redemption, salvation, and eternal life. The first three gospels - Matthew, Mark, and Luke - are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they largely contain the same stories told in similar ways. Each of these three have a few stories that the others do not include, and each focuses on different aspects of Jesus' ministry. For instance, each gospel begins the story of Jesus at a different spot - Matthew with the genealogy of Jesus, Mark with Jesus' baptism, and Luke with the promise of John the Baptist's birth to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Yet these gospels are very similar for the most part, sharing many of the same miracles, teachings, and parables. The last gospel, John, however, is very different from the other three. It skips over many of the stories that the others tell while including stories that the others do not have. John's story focuses more on who Jesus is rather than what Jesus did. Together these four gospels tell us of the good news that Jesus came to live, die, and be raised that we have eternal life and that abundantly.
Do you have a question about why we do the things we do in church, where we come from, or what we believe? Email your questions to Pastor Jim, and look for an answer in a future Faith Facts.
Living in Community
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!