As I prepare this weekly newsletter, program flyers, and worship graphics, I often find myself scouring the internet for beautiful, inspiring photos of pastoral meadow scenes, shorelines, wilderness trails, and the like to use to illustrate some point. As I swim through the overwhelming sea of pictures, I am simply amazed at some of the wonderful places that people have found to capture. Living in God's country that is the Shenandoah Valley, there are certainly such places around us, but I don't know how often I notice them as I hurriedly go up and down the roads of Rockingham County, much less even know where to look for new ones.
Last week, Courtney and I took a couple of days away in the Western Maryland to celebrate our anniversary. As we both enjoy hiking in the woods, we decided to take a morning to walk along the old C&O Canal towpath that has been converted into a recreational path - mind you, a very flat one for those accustomed to the trails of the Blue Ridge and Alleghenies. Unfortunately, we could not find the entrance to the path that we had been told about, and the GPS had no idea what the C&O is. So we stopped to ask around at a nearby gas station, and surprisingly many people were confused by our question. One guy overheard us and told us that the entrance was only a few blocks away, so we finally made it to the path.
The path was beautiful, but even better were trails leading down the hillside to the bank of the Potomac. We took each one and marvelled at the views they unveiled. As we came around each bend on the towpath and walked down each trail to the river, we found one picture-worthy scene after another. All of this natural beauty was right there, and a mere few blocks away was a store filled with folks who had no idea it was so close by. It makes me wonder how much beauty - the handiwork of our Creator - is hidden away right here just down the road. How often do we travel the roads without noticing the miracle that surrounds us? How often do we pass each other by - making snap judgments - without noticing the beauty of the soul that lies within?
So much of the beauty that the Lord has created lies hidden away. May God grace us with the vision to discover it!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
This past Sunday, we kicked off our new worship series "Meeting Jesus" - a look at stories that Luke tells of people encountering Jesus along life's journeys. Over the next couple of months, we will explore how we meet Jesus and what difference it makes in our lives.
Sermon Snippet: Called (Luke 5:1-11)
Simon Peter, James, and John were fishermen tending their nets after an unsuccessful night of fishing when Jesus came along as a stranger, climbed in Peter's boat, and had him row him out a bit to be able to speak to the crowd gathering at the shoreline. After teaching the crowd and guiding the fishermen to a miraculous catch, Jesus called them to follow him and catch people for the kingdom of God. They left everything to follow him and become fishers of people. From this encounter, we find that, when we meet Jesus, hear his call, and follow him, he uses all of who we are - our talents, skills, experiences, and even our very identities - to serve God. Jesus does not erase our identity of who we are but redirects us to use it for his work of life, love, and grace.
This Week's Challenge
What is the most important part of your identity? Is it being a parent, a grandparent, or a friend? Is it your job or a hobby? Find at least one way this week to use this part of who you are to share life, love, and grace with someone else.
We arrive just in time to see a group of friends carrying a paralyzed man up onto a roof and dangling him down to meet Jesus. As the Pharisees and scribes who have come from all over Galilee, Judea, and even Jerusalem to hear this powerful new teacher watch on, Jesus takes notice of him and does something miraculous, even to us! Join us this Sunday as we are "Carried" to meet Jesus yet again!
August 9 - "Carried" - Luke 5:21-27
August 16 - "Seeking" - Luke 7:1-10
August 23 - "Pouring Out" - Luke 7:36-49 - Back-to-School Blessing/Promotion Sunday
Living in Community
This Week at Port Church
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!