Pastor's Corner
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
 James 2:14-17
Let's Get Sappy  
A Note to Our Older and Wiser Members:   If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it fifty times.  And I heard it again last week: “Your church is really getting up there (in age), isn’t it?”
    Well, duh…  All you have to do is walk in the door and you’ll see a pastor with more gray hair than General Lee had, after four years of war.  So, yea, we are for a large part, older and wiser; but we ain’t dead yet, and we still have a boatload to offer!
    First of all, we’ve got a great mix; a solid core of wonderful youth and experienced Christians who love them and are there to guide and mentor them.  Secondly, most everyone who sits in our pews seeks to understand the gospel message and live it outside the walls of our church.
    Friends, we aren’t ready to be put out to pasture just yet.  There is so much more of God’s work that is needed in our community, and we are just the ones to do it.  Like the Psalmist said, “[E]ven to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come.” Psalm 71:18
The Hungry Community: We’ve got us a task ahead, and we are just the battalion to tackle it… “even to old age and gray hairs.”
  In a 15-mile radius of our church is a wealth of folks who could use a lift, a boost, a helping hand in time of need, a visit, a word of comfort or just someone to talk to.
    And, let me tell you, we are poised to do just that.  I’m not talking about the usual church program with flashy flyers saying, “If you need us, we’re here.”  I’m talking about a Jesus mission, one in which we get out, get to know our neighbors and take on the task of being there, without judging or demand. 
     In other words, a Christian offensive in which we show Jesus to others: 
     “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me.” 
     So says Jesus in Matthew 25.  Then the righteous asked when they did these things for Jesus, and he said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
     My friends, they are out there, all around us.  And Jesus didn’t sit around, inviting and waiting for them to come to Him, he went where they were; where the need was.  And he gave… without judging or condemning.
Good Ole’ Doris: Back in the early ‘90’s there was a woman who stood outside of a bank between my office and the courthouse.  Every day she was there, holding her hand out and mumbling, “Dollar?”
     She was around 70 and she was, well, different.  She dressed in clothes of different and clashing colors, wore a hat (men’s or lady’s, it didn’t matter) and she always carried one of those Styrofoam candy canes wrapped in red ribbon; the kind you see in life-sized Santa displays at Christmas.
     She was there when I went to try cases in the morning, and she was there when court recessed at lunch.  Most everyone passed her by, keeping a great distance between themselves and her.
     She wasn’t a threat though.  She was friendly, and before long I came to know her well.  Her name was Doris, and she lived in the public high-rise with her sister.  I’d give her a dollar every now and then, because the conversation was certainly worth it, and I’d ask her what she did with it.
     She told me she bought new clothes with it, and bought crosses, Bibles and candles for her altar.  Turns out, she and her sister had a room in their small apartment dedicated to a makeshift altar; where they worshipped every afternoon.
     I told her that was so inspiring and said, “I bet you and your sister sing up a storm to the Lord!”  Well, Doris laughed out loud, so hard you could see she only had about 6 teeth left in her head.
     She said, “Honey, I do sing, but it sounds more like a cur dog with a broken leg than a gospel choir!”
     Doris is gone now.  After about a year, she appeared outside the bank less and less; and finally, not at all.  Another of the “street people” told me she had died in her sleep one night.
The Doris Folks: Doris may be gone, but there are hundreds like her from all walks of life.  They all don’t share her background, or story, or even her faith; but they just want someone to care.
     That’s what Jesus did.  He cared.  He stopped to talk to the woman pulling on his robe; he made time for a lady with five husbands; he walked up to the lame, blind and sick.  He gave them his time and love, asking nothing in return.
     And He is our example.  He never set an age limit on when we could stop sharing his love.  He simply said to abide in him, and bear fruit, that the kingdom of salvation might come upon the earth.
     No age limit for the righteous: “The righteous flourish like the palm tree…They are planted in the house of the Lord; …In old age they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap, showing that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (Psalm 92)
     Get that?  We “geezers” are still full of vim, vigor and sap. We are still green in many ways, and we are still producing fruit.
     And something great is about to happen at our church.
Contacts, Comfort and Christ Project: An anonymous couple has offered a gift to the church to be used as seed money for us to get out in our neighborhood, get to know folks and be there to hear them, comfort them, lift them and help them; just is Jesus did.
     Right now, I’m calling it the Contacts, Comfort and Christ Project, but it is subject to be renamed as the Spirit moves us.
     Our goal is to befriend our neighbors and to share Jesus through our words and deeds (especially deeds!) by offering support and help as their real needs become clear.  The only way to do this is to get to know them and to be there, just as Jesus was.
     So many in our community have no church family, because they don’t really know what a real church family is.  They can learn about Jesus through our actions; and our action faith.
     This will require many of us to get outside our comfort zones.  Believe me, I feel this discomfort.  But I, for one, am looking to expand my horizons in Christ… I want to make more friends like Doris!
     Over the next several weeks, I will be meeting with 2-3 of our Elders to fashion what exactly this mission will be, what we seek to accomplish, how we can get to know and help others… how we will go about it from this day forward.
      We will keep you informed by making announcements in the bulletin and in our worship service.  In the meantime, please begin to think about ways we can make our work bear fruit and give hope and meaning to our neighbors.  Your thoughts, prayers and actions are appreciated.
     And as for now, “Let’s get SAPPY!”
                                                                                                                                           Yours in Christ,                                                                                                                                                                                               Pastor John