BACK TO SCHOOL. I'm so excited about our new partnership with nearby Crittenden Middle School.
Several weeks ago, our Outreach Committee led us to "adopt" the administrators, teachers, and students over there. Since then we've served snacks to the faculty and offered brief backrubs and placed candy bars in each teacher mailbox. We've collected and delivered gently used belts for use in pupil attire. One of our women's Sunday School classes prepared and took over a gift basket to a teacher who is expecting a baby this week. Two of our ladies went there last week and stuffed each faculty mailbox with a bag of popcorn and a note of appreciation from our church. We are donating money to their Angel Tree project for needy students this year.
And we want to brainstorm and dream up dozens of other creative ways that we can be a blessing and a help to that local institution. Possibilities include tutoring, putting on a special dinner for school staff and teachers, helping with flowers and shrubs on school grounds, asssisting with a planned student garden next Spring, volunteering to help in student athletic programs, and sending birthday cards to all the teachers through the year. We have a chance here to put our arms around those folks and lift and encourage and refresh them.
Why do we do this? Why bother?
Because Jesus challenges us to be salt and light in the culture around us(Matthew 5:13-14). Because our good deeds can open doors and make it a little easier for people to listen to us and believe what we say when we talk about Jesus(Matthew 5:16). Because good works are the signature of the Christian(Titus 2:14: 3:8). And because while we're waiting for Christ to return so we can go home, we're to be actively engaged in being a very positive, caring influence in our society(Jeremiah 29:1-7).
I long to see every person in our congregation find some way or niche to plug in to this undertaking. Each church member has skills and talents that could be utilized to contribute to the overall success of the project. Getting involved will energize you! If this campaign ends up just being an activity that a small handful of our folks work on, then we will have missed a golden opportunity to unite around something significant that enables us to break out of these walls and out of our comfort zones to make a difference, even if a small one, in our community. I also hope that throughout the duration of this outreach we'll have numerous chances to actually interact with students and not just the adults who work at the school.
Please don't get tired of hearing about this labor of love. Pray for its success. Ask God's blessings and favor on the employees and kids over there. Step forward with suggestions and ideas and a willingness to actually get involved in some manner. Remember that we're not going there to witness or evangelize or try to get new members for our church. We can't do that. We go out of the grace and love of Christ to give ourselves away in simple, quiet, humble service. Here is a tangible way to minister that has more traction to it than anything we've done in a long time.
MOVING DAY. Once again I want to encourage all of our folks to sit a little closer to the front in Sunday worship. We have a large sanctuary, and when people are so spread out or clinging to seats toward the back we lose a lot of warmth and intimacy. Please consciously, deliberately decide to begin to relocate to a pew, in either section, within the first 12 or 13 rows from the platform. If everybody did this it would have a transforming effect on our worship times. Do this for the good of the church body.
ADVENT. It's hard to believe that this season has rolled around again, but I sure am glad it has! I love the music and the scriptures and the colors and the decorations of this 4-week preparation time for Christmas. My preaching for these Sundays will come out of Luke 1:26-38 which tells of the angel Gabriel's announcing to Mary that she will bring baby Jesus into the world. Read and reflect on these verses to get ready for the sermons on December 11 and 18. And look, enjoy this whole month! Don't let commercialization or overactivity rob you of the simple joys and wonders of this time of year. By the way, please remember that I love you and my job and this great church more than I could ever express!!!