Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me

    One of my morning devotions last week reminded me of irritants in worship I have experienced over the years.  As a minister, sometimes it is a challenge to focus on worshipping God with the distractions of worship details like audio-visual problems, people placement, order, candle wicks, instruments being in or out of tune, speakers not hurrying to the microphone, children making noise…  Wait, children making noise?

In the above-mentioned devotion, a young mother elaborated upon the hassles of bringing a toddler to worship and that she (the mother) couldn’t get anything “out” of worship.  On the car-ride home she realized that maybe she needed to think more about what she was “bringing” to worship rather than what she could or could not “get out” of it, “The next generation to love our wonderful God.”

As my mind looks back over a typical Sunday morning worship gathering at First Christian, I see young children flowing to the front for children’s moments.  I see and hear small babies.  I see and hear children singing in choirs.  I see children leaving for Worship and Wonder, I see older children serving as acolytes representing the most important element of the experience, God’s presence with us as we gather.

May we all reset our lenses to ponder what we bring to worship rather than what we “get out” of it.  Are we bringing our children?  Are we bringing hearts and minds prepared to hear God?  Would we know it if God spoke to us?  He has promised He will if we listen, submit, and come to Him like children.

Keep the children coming!           Bill

 

Season of Transition

 Dear Friends,

I want to thank you all for the amazing hospitality and welcome. You have reached out to us in countless ways and I appreciate all the kind words and gestures. In case you have forgotten – moving is not fun! But, you all have certainly made this time of transition an easier one.  I am also thankful to the entire staff for doing all that they have already done to help the church through this season of transition. I am forever grateful. Thank you for the ways you have welcomed us into this amazing community of faith. We are blessed to be here with you in the journey!

If you are a part of a ministry group, please invite me to visit! My hope is to continue to get to know all the happenings of this congregation and in the greater Madisonville community!  I’m also available in my office, phone, or by email. 

This Sunday we are going to talk about another story from scripture that is one of my favorites. Although, I must admit – “favorite” might not be the right word. This is a passage that challenges and convicts me every time I hear it. We are going to talk about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a hard one. We know as people of faith that we are supposed to forgive as God forgives us.  We even say it every Sunday, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”  but it is so much easier to say than to actually do.  Forgiveness is such a big topic that I won’t be able to cover it all this Sunday, but I hope you will join me as we explore God’s Word to us. I believe our passage for this Sunday has a unique message to us about the burdens and weight we carry when it comes to our own lives. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is our own selves.

Glad to be in ministry with you!

Peace, Kara

Farewell to Larry and Marilyn

      This week marks the end of Larry and Marilyn’s interim time with us.  This is both a little sad and exciting as we come to this transition point.  I want you, the church, to know how much I have appreciated both of them not only for the so-called “duties” of the job, but for those extras that often do not come with interim staff.

Marilyn made herself right at home in our choir, contributing faithfully unless ill or out of town.  She felt free to express to us how much she has enjoyed making some wonderful music with us.  We will be singing one of her favorite anthems this Sunday, “It Is Well With My Soul” words by Horatio Spafford, tune by Philip Bliss, and arranged by Leanne Langley.  She has also shared her gifts with the book fair and other activities around our church.

Larry is one of the best at learning who people are.  He works to remember details and relationships.  He sees the importance of just being with people in times of crisis and sadness.  He has shown up numerous times in our rehearsals to say “Thanks!” to all the volunteers who make up our music ministry.  His ministry of “presence” to almost all of our ministries has surely been effective.  And, I must say, on those Sunday mornings when I am itching to get the service started, “Where’s Larry?” is the question.  99 times out of 100, you could find him getting in one or two more handshakes and friendly greetings to the congregation at large, trying not to miss anyone, especially visitors.

Having experienced being an interim staff member for 2 years, 3 months recently, I can attest to the challenges of such service.  You become attached to people, you become attached to the church and some of its traditions, and you create memories (hopefully good ones) of the place, new friends, and those with whom you have served.

I hope you will join us this Sunday for our extended hospitality time (8:30 AM) as a way to thank Marilyn and Larry for being a part of us not just for the time they were here, but for the positive way they have added beautiful color to the fabric of our journey together for the future.  I close by quoting the final stanza of my favorite hymn, “Soldiers of Christ, In Truth Arrayed” sung at every graduation commencement at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:  “We meet to part, but part to meet when earthly labors are complete, to join in yet more blest employ, In an eternal world of joy.” – Basil Manly Jr. 1825-1892.                 Bill

 

Welcoming Pastor Kara 

      From what I have learned and experienced over the years, churches either thrive or decline during an interim period.  Some congregations are able to maintain or even grow in wholeness, harmony, and unity.  Others become quarrelsome and divisive.  First Christian is definitely on the good side of the options.  This is a good way to welcome Pastor Kara to our church, but there are others ways.  As the church grows the importance of our lay leaders increase.  Therefore, lay leaders should redouble their  efforts to perform their responsibilities excellently, and don’t forget to let Pastor Kara know what is  occurring on your watch.

We have a lot of wonderful people here at FCC and Pastor Kara wants to learn who you are and what your ministerial needs are.  The first step is to learn your names, wear name tags for at least a month.  In conversation with one another when Pastor Kara is participating, identify each other by name.  This will help her learn who you are.

Most importantly, as we welcome Pastor Kara, let’s remember to keep her and her family in prayer.  The four of them need to get adjusted to new places and new routines.  Keep them in prayer and respect their family time.

Pastor Kara’s first Sunday in the pulpit will September 3.  I know some of you have long standing Labor Day weekend plans, but I hope many of those without such plans will attend that Sunday and many more.  Those with Labor Day weekend plans can attend many Sundays after that weekend.

Let’s join our hearts and spirits together to welcome Pastor Kara and Mark, Annie, and Luke to our congregation and community and into our hearts.      God Bless You!    

 

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