In pm's words
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October 1, 2019, 7:50 AM

October 2019 Newsletter Article


Grace and peace to y’all!

September was full. Wasn’t it? At least, that’s the way it felt for me. But, here’s something I noticed.

It was a full month for me, but it was a month full of gratitude and thankfulness.

Thankfulness that I could spend time with friends and Erin while we ate dinner and saw Hootie and the Blowfish together.

Thankfulness to hear the words and stories once again from Bishop Munib Younan.

Thankfulness that I and so many others could participate at the “Fall” Festivus CrossFit Competition.

Thankfulness to officiate and celebrate another wedding with a beautiful couple.

Thankfulness to celebrate another year in Ashleigh’s life.

Thankfulness to gather at Lutheridge to teach and learn about the Apostle’s Creed.

Thankfulness to begin another year teaching confirmation with Redeemer and four other churches.

Thankfulness to begin coaching 10 excited and energetic kids in soccer for the Newberry Recreation Department.

Yes, it was a full month. And that doesn’t include the meetings, visits, phone calls, preparations, more meetings, brief chats, text messages, and more that typically fill up my days and weeks as pastor at Redeemer.

But, I’ll be honest with you. It’s fulfilling work. It’s life-giving stuff. I enjoy it.

Yes, it is a full month, and October doesn’t look like much of a reprieve. But, seriously. It’s good stuff.

There’s a lot going on at Redeemer. There’s a lot going on in our lives as people and people of faith. Have you ever just stopped, taken a step back and looked at what we get to do for God in our world?

Sure, there are so many ways that we can get distracted and disgruntled, perhaps even apathetic about the way the world operates. But, y’all – we get to do so much good in this world. We get to do so much wonderful ministry and service to God and neighbor.

I know I saw it a lot, but we really get to do so much. It is so wonderful to be thankful for what we get to do.

Remember to give thanks. Remember that we get to do so much with God and our neighbors out of love and thankfulness.

I love y’all, and I mean it. Amen.




September 30, 2019, 12:00 AM

the one about risky love...


Sermon by Rev. Jennifer Shimota from September 29, 2019

Text: Luke 16:19-31

 

Grace, mercy, and peace are yours from God our Father and form our Lord and Savior Jesus, who is the Christ. Amen.

Jesus has been telling lots of stories about riches guys these past few weeks! We had the story that we often call the Prodigal Son, where a fairly rich guy and his sons make some choices and struggle with relationships a bit.

We had a story of the dishonest manger last week, where a rich guy has a manger who doesn’t want to be poor, so he makes some choices. And today, we have a rich man and Lazarus.

Sometimes I think we lose track of how Jesus is teaching those around him because we just get a small snippet of scripture each week. We know quite well the story of the Prodigal Son, or Good Samaritan, or maybe the Rich Man and Lazarus, but we don’t always see the big picture of what Jesus is teaching – like we might if we read the whole gospel.

Which, by the way, would take you a couple of hours. It really is worth doing. Just sit down with a cup of coffee – or tea for me - and let Luke tell you the story of our Lord. If you do that, you will see which stories Jesus tells back to back. And sometimes you’ll see that those stories have a theme, and together they are bigger than they are individually.

There is a rich man in our story today.

He uses his wealth to serve himself. He has a home stockpiled with scrumptious food – on which he feasts whenever he wishes. And, there’s a poor man, Lazarus, whom the Rich Man walks by every time he goes in or out of his home.

Lazarus is covered in sores, and the rich man walks by. Well, yah… maybe Lazarus is contagious! Leprosy was no joke! And if his sores were leprosy, then I guess it makes sense that the Rich Man would stay away.

I guess the dogs didn’t know better. They licked Lazarus’ sores – which is gross, to be honest.

Lazarus is hungry, and the rich man walks by.

Well, yah… so do I!

I drive around Columbia, where I now live, and there are desperate people with sings along my travel routes. I don’t know what to do about that. I really don’t.

I cannot solve homelessness. And frankly, I don’t even think I can solve one person’s homelessness.

I mean, is a person experiencing homelessness because of addiction? If so, that is a multilayer problem. We need to address the addiction AND the poverty if they are related.

Well, I’m not an addiction counselor, and my salary is not sufficient to support myself and another person. I can’t afford the rent on two apartments. And I have a guest room in my house, but I’m not going to invite them to come live with me.

So, I guess I get the Rich Man. Maybe he walks by Lazarus because he has fatigue from all the problems in the world and just doesn’t know how to help.

But, the Rich Man’s selfishness lands him in Hades when he dies – where he is being tortured. And he sees Lazarus, who has also died, across the chasm between Hades and torture and the gentle place where Lazarus is hanging out with Abraham.

And, the Rich Man says, “Oh hey! Abraham! This place is awful! Can you help out? Send Lazarus over to help me. Just even to dip his finger in some water to get it wet and come over here and put his finger in my mouth, so my tongue will be cooled.

Could you just help a guy out for a hot minute? Send Lazarus over to me.”

And Abraham says the Rich Man is out of luck. The chasm is fixed, he says. The choices you made were the choices you made. You live there now, tortured forever – and Lazarus lives here, with me. Just hanging out and no longer covered in sores or starving.

That’s how it works.

And Rich Man says, “Okay, so if you won’t make Lazarus help me, at least have him go warn my brothers about this. I mean, tell them that God’s laws are for real. That taking care of the poor is actually a command.”

And Abraham says – “Rich man, you had the Holy Scriptures. You had Moses. Which means you had the Ten Commandments. You had the prophets – which means you had heard them time and again that you are to care for the poor, to welcome the stranger, to host the immigrant, to look out for the weak ones among you. You had all that, and you didn’t care.”

Your brothers have the fullness of Moses and the prophets, too. If they don’t listen, like you didn’t listen, it wouldn’t matter if Lazarus, a dead man, comes back to life to warn them. They still won’t listen.

And I think, Really?! If the beggar at their gate came back to life to tell them God is serous about the law of love, that wouldn’t affect them? Are you sure?

But, then I got to wondering if Lazarus as just one of the guys they stepped over at their gate each day, did they know he died? Did they notice? Would they know him enough to notice he was gone? Would it have occurred to them to ask after him in the village square? “Hey, anyone seen Lazarus lately?” Would they even know they were talking to a man raised form the dead – if his death never registered on their radars?

And, if they DID know he had died, and he DID appear to them as a resurrected man with a message… would they believe him? Would they listen?

I have to wonder.

Because you see, I profess to love Jesus and to be his follower. And Jesus is a resurrected man with a message… do I listen?

Do I listen when he says that I am to love my neighbor as myself?

Do I listen when he says following me is picking up a cross and going where I go?

Do I believe him when he talks about picking up a cross?

Do I lived a changed life because a dead man who had been raised to life has told me that if I have two coats, that only means I have one to share?

I actually tremble when I consider this question.

Because, I have been to seminary and I am a called ordained minister of the Church of Christ.

And I have a guestroom in my home that I refuse to share, so someone sleeps on the sidewalk again tonight.

And I drive right on past people who are asking for help.

And I tell myself it is fine to have a kind of fatigue about the world’s problems because there are too many, and I’m just one person, so what can I do about it?

And, whenever I have picked up a cross, it hasn’t been a rough hewn one. It’s been a sanded and varnished one that doesn’t scratch much when I carry it on my shoulder. And I have not followed my Jesus all the way to where they Use those crosses to hang people on them.

I do not believe I have ever served my neighbor in such a way that my life was at risk, that it was the same as carrying a cross. Being willing to die if that’s what happens while serving my neighbor.

And, I’m not saying that the only way to be faithful to Jesus is to put your life at risk. I’m not saying that at all.

But, Jesus said that following him would absolutely be risky, not comfortable.

Jesus asked us to have risky love for our neighbor.

Like Mother Theresa serving the poorest of the poor in the streets of Calcutta, risking catching the various diseases they had. Tending their wounds, feeding their tummies and their souls.

You know who is the mother Theresa of our Rich Man and Lazarus story?

The dogs.

The dogs who come to like Lazarus’ wounds. And my guess is they would lie down next to him in the sun and keep him company too. Because dogs are good creatures we can never quite deserve.

You know. The Prodigal Son goes off and wastes his dad’s money. Then, he comes to his sense and crawls back to his dad, begging for mercy, confessing his sins… and the relationship is restored.

This Rich Man, who has not cared for Lazarus, does not come to his senses, does not crawl back, does not beg for mercy…

Actually, he does ask for mercy, but not for his sins. He says, have mercy on me, make Lazarus be my servant and cool my tongue. I’m in agony. Make Lazarus fix it.

The Rich Man still doesn’t get how love works. He still doesn’t know and believe in the law of love spoken by Moses and the prophets.

And, when we don’t know or believe the law of love spoken by Moses, the prophets, and Jesus Christ, the son of God, who was raised from the dead by the power of love, when we don’t pick up our crosses to serve our neighbor because we are scared, or fatigued, or we just don’t get it…

We come to the font. We come to confession. Shoulder to shoulder, on our knees, saying out loud together that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.

And we come with cupped hands, like Lazarus’ beggar’s hands, to the Table of Mercy. Where we receive a piece of God, a piece of the one who Is not frightened or fatigued, and we are nourished.

We receive what we are: the Body of Christ.

Strengthened to serve the world God Loves. And follow a resurrected man with a message. Amen.




September 23, 2019, 12:00 AM

the one about that manager...


Sermon from Sunday, September 22, 2019

Text: Luke 16: 1-13

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Risen Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

Alright, so there are a few texts within our Holy Scriptures that make me cock my head to the side like a confused dog. There are stories from the Old Testament like Elisha and the she-bears, the hero Ehud, and pretty much the entire reaction of Jonah. There are those stories in the New Testament that give me the same pause as well. Some of them are funny, like when Jesus pays the tax with coins from a fish’s mouth. Some are strange, but relatable, like when Jesus yelled at a fig tree because he was hangry.

Then there are those stories that make you scratch your head in trying to figure out what in the world Jesus is trying to tell his disciples and in turn what are we to learn from that teaching. I believe that today’s parable from Luke’s Gospel is one of those strange teaching moments. Perhaps it is the oddest story that Jesus tells because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when compared to the rest of what Jesus teaches, shows, and lives.

It is a confusing and interesting text to say the least. It looks like Jesus is praising this dishonest manager of money and asking others to be like him. Make friends using dishonest wealth? Follow what the world does and copy them? That seems – very much – to be the antithesis of what Jesus has proclaimed thus far.

My friends, colleagues and I have been puzzled by this text throughout our ministry (not to mention the countless preachers, theologians, and readers of scripture have been perplexed throughout history as well). We talked about it at length this week. It’s a weird text. What in the world are we to do with it?

This story occurs right after the Parable of the Loving Father – the culmination of the ‘Parables of the Lost’ that Jesus uses to express God’s love, desire, and faithfulness in ways we wouldn’t expect.

The only thing ‘typical’ in what Jesus has done in this parable, is that it follows the line of being ‘not what you expect.’ So, thinking along those lines, we can assume that what Jesus is about to say to his disciples could be in-line with what he has been talking about recently. Telling stories in such a way that makes the hearer really think about what’s going on.

So, this parable involves a man who is dishonest. And not only dishonest, but dishonest with someone else’s money. We aren’t told what exactly this manger has done to draw his employer’s ire, but it is enough that he’s going to get kicked to the curb.

And, understandably he begins to freak out.

He doesn’t believe he is strong so he can’t do tough manual labor, and he has too much pride to sit on the side of the road with his hand out. He feels he’s in a pickle. So, he searches out those individuals who have the largest debts to his employer and begins slashing what they owe. His reasoning?

If I’m going to get thrown out, I’m at least going to get some folks to be on my good side so that I can be cared for in the very near future.

The strangest thing comes next, where the master praises him for his shrewdness and cleverness. And to top that, Jesus seems to be praising the dishonest man as well!

What in the world are we to do with this story!

Now, first, I don’t think what Jesus is saying is that you’ve got to cheat the people who you are working for. I don’t think Jesus is saying that we’ve got lie and finagle to win people over. Those don’t seem to jive at all with what Jesus continually proclaims.

I think Jesus is interacting with two separate audiences here. He’s speaking to his disciples, but he’s really talking to those ‘Pharisees, tax collectors, and sinners’ who have gathered around him. The one’s who might be able to identify themselves in some way with the dishonest manager.

Perhaps, what Jesus is getting at is not ‘hey you disciples, you’ve gotta be like the worldly folks over there and do whatever it takes to advance the gospel. Even if it means doing some morally questionable stuff.”

That doesn’t seem to be what Jesus says at all – throughout his entire ministry.

But, maybe he’s sharing a story knowing that there are some other people listening in on this conversation. Where the message is – you may be someone who’s messed up big. You might be someone who has taken advantage of others. You might be someone who’s gained a lot through dishonest means. You people? Might as well do some good with what you’ve got. Especially if it means you’ve got to take a loss on this one to get your life more in line with what God desires. And, turn away from that life of the world and follow me.

Listen, we live in a world that a small percentage of people make an immense amount of wealth. Typically, they gain that wealth by taking advantage of those underneath them.

Whenever I think of the dishonest manager, Bill Gates is always someone who comes to mind. Now mind you, I’m a Microsoft fanboy. I love their products – some would call me a glutton of punishment for sticking with them. But, I’ve always loved their collective vision for technology.

I also know that Bill Gates was a shrewd businessman. He built his technological empire on the backs of others. He undercut rivals, he implemented practices that disrupted the system in negative ways that benefited him and Microsoft the most. He amassed an immense amount of wealth by seeking to control the entire PC market.

In more ways than one, Bill Gates was not a well-liked, well respected, or particularly honest person to deal with. He had power and money and wielded it to bury his rivals and get him the most money and wealth.

But, in the last 15 years, Gates has changed in many ways. His vast wealth – which is still one of the largest sums of money in the world – is not being used to prop himself up, but instead to be used to combat and fight disease around the world, providing access to great education, empowering the poorest in our world, and inspiring others to take action against inequality and injustice in the world.

There are a lot of dishonest ways in which Bill Gates accumulated his vast wealth. Ways that took advantage of others, buried rivals unfairly, and morally were pretty questionable.

Yet, like the dishonest manager, there was a choice and change. Valuing people and life instead of money, things, and wealth. As a commentator wrote, the dishonest manager isn’t being praised because he becomes dishonest; he is praised because he finally figures out how to do some good for his boss.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we should do whatever we want – amass wealth, power, and more through unsavory means – because eventually we’ll get to do some good with it.

No, I don’t think that’s Jesus’ point.

But, I think Jesus is still telling those ‘outsiders’ around him, that there is still hope and chance for them. That even in spite of their failings and fallings, they still have the opportunity and choice to live into what God has called the entire world into. If you’ve been dishonest thus far, use what you’ve gained to do some good. And also, turn back from those ways that have separated you from others and from God. Repent of those dishonest ways, follow where God is leading through Jesus Christ.

We are still called to care for those in need, think outside ourselves and our own well-being. That is what God calls us all into, that is what the life of faith lays before us.

Jesus calls us to care for people, always. Even when he shines the light on systems and practices that take advantage of others, his call is still to care for others with what you’ve got.

Repent from the ways that subjugate others. Repent from your ways that have hurt people. Repent and turn towards God. Turn to your neighbor, do some good because God has called us all to see the beauty of those around us, and care for our neighbors in need.

Do some good, even it means you have to take a loss to finally get on the right track. Amen.




September 9, 2019, 7:42 AM

the one about the risk...


Sermon from September 8, 2019

Text: Luke 14: 25-33, Philemon 1:1-21

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, these past few weeks hearing from Jesus has been tough hasn’t it? Jesus talks about bringing division and not peace, always being ‘at the ready,’ humble yourselves, skirt the established rules, and more. Jesus hasn’t been as ‘warm and fuzzy’ in our gospel readings lately. He puts us on edge, he makes us think, he might (perhaps he should) make you feel a bit uncomfortable.

This morning, we hear Jesus say, “Hate.” Hate your parents, your spouse, your children, your life. If you don’t do that, then you cannot be one of my disciples. That’s hard to hear. That’s just about enough to make me pack my bags and just about leave this whole faith thing behind.

Why on earth – would the one who proclaims and exclaims of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness – why would the one who shatters the barriers and tumbles the walls we’ve put up between ‘us and them’ in the world – why would the one who crosses cultural and physical borders – why would that one talk about hating family to be a disciple?

Jesus talked a lot about hating the things that we love in order to follow him and bear our cross for the world. But, I want to assure you – I don’t think Jesus is saying that we should ‘hate’ out of anger or hostility. As a former professor of mine in seminary would say, if there is a problem in the translation, it is usually the English’s fault. I think this is the case here in the 14th chapter of Luke. However, though the English cannot quite convey the correct feeling of what Jesus is getting at – it doesn’t mean it is any softer or easier.

But, before we get into that, a question for y’all. Who here has ever committed to something without knowing the extent of what you’d be required to do?

Perhaps you volunteered your services as a coach, or a board member, or with an organization. You walked into those moments in your life thinking, “This is going to be easy-peasy.” But, you quickly realized how wrong you were. Where you concluded that this new venture would require more time and effort than you initially thought. It might have resulted in tough decisions, fretful nights, and awkward conversations.

Depending on the decisions you made, it very well could’ve jeopardized your relationships with family and friends.

At the end of it – you realized it was much more difficult than you could ever possibly have imagined.

If you knew all that going in – would you have still done it?

If it’s something you truly believed in, then probably yes. But, if it was something you were lukewarm about, you probably wouldn’t want to jump into all the fuss.

We live in a world today that wants to convey a message of faith that is more digestible, it is easier to live in, doesn’t contradict what the ‘powers’ of the world gives. Whether those powers be political, cultural, or religious. That the Christian faith saddles up rather nicely with all things.

But, when we get down to it, when we look at scripture, as we read the words of Jesus’ lips and life, we come to the realization (hopefully) that there is a lot in this world that doesn’t cozy up with Jesus at all.

We have things like the false proclamation that one people is ‘better’ than the other solely based on the color of their skin or where they were born. We have things like the false proclamation that wealth is the number one determination of standing in the life of faith. Meaning that if you have ‘more’ than you’re ‘better’ in the eyes of God.

But, there are the little things that fly in the face of what our Lord proclaims, too. The things that we’re more apt to casually follow without thinking about it. Our adherence to organizations and people that constantly hurt others with their words and actions. Our ability to sweep away sins because of ‘who that person is and where they come from.’ Our immediate reactions on a person’s life based solely on where they live. Our ability to sustain the status quo, when it is definitively hurting someone else because, ‘that’s just the way it is or the way it was.’

When Jesus tells us that we should ‘hate’ family, friends, and life itself in order to be his disciples, I think he means to tell us how serious he is about our commitment to God. That not one thing stands in the way of our commitment to God and God’s kingdom, love, grace, and beauty. Not one thing should be used as an ‘excuse’ to live into God’s call upon our lives.

I think we see that lived out particularly well in our second reading as Paul writes to Philemon about Onesimus.

Based on context clues, we can determine that Philemon (and the others mentioned with him) are powerful people. He has clout, wealth, and respect. It also appears that (because this is the time in which it occurred) that he had slaves as well. Namely Onesimus being one of them.

Now, Paul writes on Onesimus’ behalf that Philemon should welcome him back, but not in the way he knew him before. That because he is now a believer like him, he should be welcomed as a brother.

The relationship has changed. Onesimus’ status has changed. He isn’t a slave anymore, nor should he ever be again. That’s not what the Body of Christ does with and to one another.

But, here’s the rub. What is Philemon to do? If he follows Paul’s call to him, what will his colleagues think? How will he be viewed in the community? Will he be seen as soft, weak, a push-over? One of those youngins’ who doesn’t respect the past and tradition? Welcoming Onesimus back into his life and community as a brother and not as a slave can possibly have dire consequences for him. He might be shunned, ostracized, kept out of the inner circle of power that he’s enjoyed so far in his life.

Yet, if he welcomes Onesimus as a brother, what has he gained? A new relationship. A deeper love. Living life more in step with God. Being a model of how faith changes us completely and unequivocally.

Y’all, this life of faith is not easy. God’s call to us can be very hard because it stands so firmly against many of the things we take for granted. God desires our commitment to grace, mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance.

When it is written that God so loved the world not only did that include you, but it included the one you’d never expect. And if God is able to love them, then perhaps we too, should be able to love them.

And if we love them, then we wouldn’t treat them – whoever they are – in the ways that we always have, or the world says is ‘ok.’

There is a cost to our discipleship. It changes us. It changes how we interact not only with the world, but how we interact with those people around us, the ones closest to us. Jesus wants us to know that that this commitment to discipleship isn’t easy.

Following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires something of us. Are we willing to take that risk? Taking the risk means putting God first. Taking the risk means following through with commitments even when a better offer comes through. Taking a risk means admonishing words of hate and actions of injustice. Taking a risk means standing up for the poor and vulnerable. Taking a risk means losing friends who disagree. Taking a risk means following the one who knowingly walked toward his death.

We won’t always get it right. We won’t always succeed. There may be times that we flat out refuse to follow in the ways of God.

And yet, even in those moments. God still calls us. Because Jesus bore the cross for us. Jesus was victorious upon the cross over sin and death for us.

It doesn’t mean we get to do whatever we want because Jesus still loves us, God still has redeemed us. But, because of the commitment that God has given to us, it compels us to be more fully committed to the one who loves us. With our whole selves. Our whole lives.

We do this – this life of faith – because of God’s love for us. We are able to do this – even badly – because of God’s love for and commitment to us. We live our lives to God because of what God has already done.

It isn’t easy. It comes with trials, it comes with risks, it comes with ridicule to follow Jesus.

But, it’s worth it. It’s worth it to see God’s love lived out for others. It is worth it to share God’s love with others. It is worth it to know that no matter what God is here with us.

We measure the cost of discipleship, because it is worth it. Always. Amen.




September 2, 2019, 12:00 AM

the one about coming to the table...


Sermon from September 1, 2019

Text: Luke 14: 1, 7-14

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our risen Lord Jesus who is the Christ. Will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Who here likes to eat? I know I do. I love to eat, and as much as I don’t want to, I continually counteract the progress I make from working out. I’ll have to continue to work on that. Our Lord Jesus loves to eat as well. Especially in Luke’s Gospel, we find Jesus at the table with good friends surrounded by good food and good drink.

Jesus’ ministry throughout Luke’s gospel centers a lot around food. He is usually sharing a story, imparting knowledge, or observing people from his seat at the table. In our reading this morning we find Jesus in this frequent position. We read that he is gathered at the house of a Pharisee. At first glance this might make us a little bit surprised. Jesus is eating with who? He is eating with one of them? The same ones who try to entrap and ensnare him into tricky situations so they might have evidence to ‘get rid’ of him?

Yeah, Jesus is eating with ‘one of them’ Pharisees. This is pretty big deal, because you see Jesus is all about inviting folks to the table. All sorts of different people are welcome at the table with Jesus. And as Jesus welcomes all to the table around him, he usually uses it as an opportunity to impart some knowledge or new way of experiencing life and living out the Gospel that he proclaims. Perhaps this is something we can learn today as we live in a country and world that always seems at one another’s throats.

You see, those invitations sent out for celebrations at that time were pretty similar to how we invite others today to our celebrations. Something that I am keenly aware of as we begin thinking about what to do for Ashleigh’s 9th birthday party.

Who do you invite? Do we know them that well? Do we really want all these people to come? 

Even as a young boy growing up, there was always that part of the invitation process where you sent out invitations in hopes that everyone would come to your celebration and that in turn, you would be invited to their celebrations too. It is one of the earliest ways and times where we find out if we’re part of the ‘in crowd’ in our social circles. On that note, let’s just say my daughters are way more popular than I ever was.

Or you go to a party – birthday, wedding, retirement, or some other celebration – and you place yourself next to or close to the ‘honoree’ and discover that you’re not really wanted there at all. You’re asked, politely or pointedly, if you could ‘trade places’ with another. Talk about shame and embarrassment!  So, Jesus here is giving good and shrewd advice in how to keep that sort of thing from happening to you. His advice would be in any big wig’s playbook in how to ‘work a room’ to your advantage as you make contacts to further yourself and your lot in life.

Stay low – put yourself in a situation where people will pull you out into the more honored areas of life. Humble yourself; let others lift you up instead of you lifting yourself up. All of this Jesus gets from our lesson from Proverbs this morning.

But, then Jesus goes on to add a little more into the mix. Now, normally in an invitation to a celebration – you invite ‘the usual’ crowd that everyone invites. We fall into the ‘game’ of whose who, who’s here, and who’s absent as we go to and host celebrations. But, Jesus turns this notion on its head and says don’t just invite those people – the well-known, your family, your rich neighbors – but, instead invite the lowly.

The poor. The crippled. The lame. The blind. Invite the ones who the world has said are un-invitable. Invite the people no one else invites. Of course, inviting ‘those sorts’ of people into our celebrations – as the world sees it – damages our street cred and respectability. When the lame, the nerds, the strange, the different are invited your status immediately takes a dive and you’re no longer a part of the ‘in crowd.’ You’re no longer an ‘A-lister’ (if you even ever were). It’s social suicide they’ll say! Talk to any teenager about who and who not to invite to their parties. They’ll tell you what’ll happen to their social standing at school.

But, Jesus isn’t paying attention to any of that. For Jesus – he points to a far greater reward. A reward of resurrection. A life lived to and for God. A life lived where all are welcome to the table.

As I read this story, I couldn’t help but notice what anniversary quietly went by. On an August 28th in Washington DC over 50 years ago, a man stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and asked the country to – essentially – invite one another to the table.

You see, when we’re gathered at the table lines are broken down. Sharing food with one another helps us overcome those differences and barriers that the world has helped us erect to block us off from one another. Sharing a meal with one another is an intimate experience. Whether it is in candlelight as you stare across at the one you love in front of you or mop up the blended goop back into the mouth of an infant with a spoon, or even sitting with the guy on the street and sharing your meal.

For you see, sharing a meal with another puts you on equal level. It says to the other – I honor and cherish you as an individual; as a fellow child of God. It is where true talks of peace can occur. It is where we can begin to see one another as parts of a whole instead of as pieces separate from one other. It is at the table – a table of brotherhood as Dr. Martin Luther King put it – where our dreams and hopes can be lived out. Where all are known and viewed as equals. Not because of who they are, but because of whose we are.

I am equally reminded of how we need to be more in table fellowship as a world with one another. As we continue to live in a world that is always at odds with one another. Where we push people away if they don’t agree with our views 100% completely. Where we hurl hurtful, shameful, and regrettable words at a person or a group of people simply because they aren’t ‘one of us.’ How many today would give another person with an ‘opposing view’ the time of day, let a lone share a meal with them?

For we all are children of God. We all have been created out of love by our God of mercy, acceptance, and grace.

The same God who today invites all of us to this table. This table where all are welcome – no matter who you are or where you come from. No matter what you’ve done or what you think. No matter if you’re skeptical or full on follower of the One. Christ invites you into table fellowship with him. In fact, Jesus goes so far to invite himself into your life. Coming to you to show you how worthy and ‘whole’ you truly are.

Coming to this table, Jesus reaches out and pulls you here to eat of this bread and drink of this wine. Reminding us all that this is for all of us. That we all are invited to this table where we remember what Christ as done for us and then are fed and sent to live out that in our lives. Where we then are called to invite others to our tables. Where we gather in fellowship not just with those who others invite, but also inviting those that don’t usually get even a simple hello from the world.

Where we are called to invite others into our lives, not just our dinner tables. Where we share our lives with one another. We serve in love, we gather in grace, where we see one another for who and whose we are.

We continue to live into and for that dream that Martin Luther King described which was first lifted up by our Lord Jesus Christ. We continue to pray that those in conflict around the world and in our country can look across the table at one another and pass bread and not trade verbal insults.

All are welcome to this table. All are welcome in this place. All are welcome in this life of faith. No exceptions. Seriously. Amen.

 




September 1, 2019, 8:00 AM

September 2019 Newsletter


Grace and peace y’all!

August has come to an end and it was an eventful one, wasn’t it!

A huge storm, cancelled church services, and lots of rain. It isn’t even quite hurricane season yet!

I was taken aback by how many folks around our community came together to provide care, relief, and help to those around them in need this month. Especially in response to the fierce storm we had on August 17.

Trees fell over, power lines came down, flooding occurred, and electricity was out for much of our area for an extended period of time. And yet, folks came together to help cut trees, move limbs, and check on one another. Water was provided for weary crews who helped restore power to our area and remove massive fallen trees from roads and yards.

In spite of the chaos, neighbors and strangers came together to provide relief and help to one another. And that was a beautiful sight to behold. Even if that meant seeing some people driving around with long chainsaws in their golf carts up and down the roads.

It got me thinking. In spite of living in a world that is incredibly divided. Divided politically, ideologically, and more we still find ways to bring down our barriers and walls to help those in need. What a beautiful world it could be if those barriers were down all the time!

What a wonder it would be to see the person before us as an individual in need and an individual worthy of love, care, and service.

For that is what I believe God calls us into all the time. Care and love for one another – all the time. Not when it’s convenient or at the ‘appropriate’ time, but always. Living into love and grace with those around us.

That is my continual prayer. Every day. That we all live into the love and service that God calls us to. All the time. Amen!

I love y’all, and I really mean it!

 

 




August 26, 2019, 9:12 AM

the one about erring on the side of grace like Jesus...


Sermon from August 25, 2019

Text: Isaiah 58: 9b-14 and Luke 13:10-17

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, how many of you have been told what you need to do in order for God to be close to you in your life? I’m sure there are a number of ways that people have told you – or that you’ve heard – about what one must do for God to be close to you. In fact, I’m willing to bet that the #1 way that you’ve been told is that you need to follow God’s law. And typically, that ‘law’ cozies up really nicely with that particular person’s set of beliefs.

And no matter the type of ‘church person’ it is, they always seem to think that God only shows up when a particular set of rules are followed, or boxes are checked. And if you deviate from that set plan slightly, it throws everything out of order and you risk putting yourself (and others) in jeopardy.

We hear that stuff a lot. It could be rules like, “you need to be baptized to be a part of us, or take communion a certain number of times for you to be ‘good’ in God’s eyes.” Perhaps, those rules involve who can participate in leading worship. Maybe you’ve heard of those who get really perturbed depending on what organizations you support or what views one should hold close. Perhaps each of those scenarios hits a little close to home for us as well.

A few years ago I unintentionally made a point about how we view rules and traditions. I remember talking about how it isn’t how well or perfectly we ascribe to certain ‘church rules’ that brings us closer to God. As an example, I talked about the candles on the altar and how they should be lit.

For some, there is a certain order. Which side, which candle? There have been a few wide-eyed new acolytes that have come to me before their first service and asked, “Pastor… which one do I light first.” I kneel down, draw them in close and whisper, “I don’t care. Just light them all. God isn’t going to mind how you do it.”

Now, that particular Sunday three years ago, the candles didn’t get lit. I didn’t notice it until communion. But, there were many folks who came up to me after service who asked, “were the altar candles not lit to emphasize your point?”

No. Someone forgot, but it apparently seemed to work out pretty well.

In our first reading and gospel reading, we see the work of God push back on what we normally consider the ‘status quo’ of the life of faith.

Isaiah talks about what a person or a people must do in order for God to be with them. Usually, we might think – and perhaps the Israelites as well – that what God desires for us is to uphold those rituals and laws first.

Follow the rules, and I’ll be with you.

Yet, that isn’t what God says to the people – to us – through the words of Isaiah. There wasn’t a mention about being ritually clean – washing your hands in a certain way before eating. There wasn’t a mention about what clothes to wear, or foods to eat, or things you have to do in order for God to notice or see you.

Instead, its stop being jerks to each other and care for one another. Give of what you have, share in your abundance, be with those around you.

To me, that’s comforting. Because, I’ll tell you what. I unintentionally ‘break’ rules more often than others think I should. Sometimes, I even do it intentionally.

If you stick your hand out at communion, I’m going to give you the body of Christ. I just am. I’m not going to ask – in that moment – if you should be receiving this gift of meal and life. I’m going to give it to you.

More often than not, if you come to me with a need, I’m going to try to find a way to help you – even if it means that I don’t (always) follow the exact setup procedure.

When you ask if you served in worship leadership well (especially if you’re an acolyte) I’ll ask you two questions – was God given praise and honor and glory today? And did you burn the church down?

If you can answer correctly to those questions, you’re good in my book. And, I believe God is overjoyed as well. So far, we’ve been good.

Jesus himself was akin to erring on the side of grace and skirting the ‘rules’ of his day. Especially a big one like – doing no work on the sabbath.

In our gospel reading, our Lord is confronted with a woman who has been afflicted with the inability to stand up straight. She’s bent over and has been that way for a long, long time.

I’ve never had serious back trouble, but a couple of weeks ago I had some neck and back trouble and it was terrible. I cannot imagine not having the ability to stand up straight and move freely for years. It was excruciating not being able to do that for just a few days.

And so, when approached by this woman, Jesus heals her. On the Sabbath no less. On the day that the ‘rules’ require the people of Israel to rest in observance of the day that God rested after the story of creation.

Jesus didn’t follow the rules. And those who uphold the ‘rules’ - the Pharisees – the clergy of the day – are a little upset.

Jesus errs on the side of grace and love.

Now, I can see why the Pharisees get a little upset, it is their job to uphold the rules and laws of faith, and when someone like Jesus comes along and points a light at the injustice of some of those laws, it makes us squirm. It puts us on edge. It makes others question whether or not other rules and laws might need to be looked at again through a different lens.

I imagine it was the same for those clergy during the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Where Luther and others began the task of translating the Bible into native languages. No longer was it just for those who were ‘educated’ in this field, but given to all.

It broke a ‘rule.’ And yet, out of grace and love, the people began to see and know of God’s life with and for them even more fully and intimately than ever before.

God has continually taken what we assume must be the ‘correct’ way and shifted it or turned it completely upside down. Jesus upends the conventional ways to make a point about God.

God is going to love – despite and in spite – of the rules that we make.

God wants us to love and serve those around us. First and completely. Instead of just following rules that can (at times) keep us from helping those in need. God invites us into this life of faith that challenges the status quo and reaches out to people in need.

And living in that life of faith, we may ruffle feathers. Why? Because we’re called to help those in need and we are called into that service in ways that people wouldn’t expect, desire, or that it contrasts with what the world and society proclaims. Like Jesus, we see the ones who stand up straight and we see the ones who are bent over. We see the ones who are in need and we go to them. We proclaim. We serve. We help. We praise in joy and thanksgiving in all kinds of healing.

Healing in our life. Healing in the life of others around us.

If Jesus is going to err on the side of grace and love, perhaps we should be open to that possibility too? Amen.




August 19, 2019, 7:03 AM

the one about divison and peace...


Sermon from August 18, 2019

Luke 12: 49-56

This sermon didn't get to be preached because services were cancelled due to severe damage to our area after a major storm the night before.

 

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So… what a text to hear this morning, right? This is not an easy text, because well… again what Jesus says his hard.

We’re used to Jesus being the one who reaches out, who brings folks in, who proclaims and lives into radical hospitality. He’s the one that bursts open the door of God’s love that for generations had been proclaimed to be only for a ‘limited’ few. We’re used to thinking of Jesus who brings folks together.

Yet, here Jesus states that he explicitly comes to bring not peace, but division. Yikes. What in the world? What has our sweet Lord and friend done now?

Because you know what, we live in a world of division don’t we? We have families that are separated by beliefs and by the beliefs of others. We have relationships and friendships rend asunder because of who someone supports. We have a country and world that are at odds with one another over the smallest and the largest of issues. We even continue to have division within the church over how to follow Jesus.

Jesus comes to bring division, not peace, right?

We live in a world of division, and it’s hard. And the one place we’d like to come to find some unity and peace is Jesus, right? That’s something that everyone can get behind, correct? He should be the one that brings us together, amiright?

Jesus comes to bring division, not peace.

What, then, are we to do with this?

We even heard in Jeremiah this morning about the disruptive power of God’s word. Here Jeremiah likens the Word of God to fire and a hammer.

And I like that. I really do. I think it fits in well with what Jesus is telling those around him this morning – mainly those who are frustrated with him and the things that he proclaims.

God’s Word – the life that Jesus calls us into – causes division. It does. It causes division among people, it causes division in yourself. Those things that you take for granted because the world proclaims them begin to look a little bit different after the Word of God comes in like a hammer and shatters you. The Word that Jesus brings that makes things difficult because of what he calls for and who he includes in this life of faith.

Jesus comes to bring division, not peace.

But, here’s the rub. I don’t think Jesus brings division just to stir the pot. Jesus doesn’t bring or cause division just to sit back and laugh. Jesus doesn’t cause division just to watch the world burn.

Jesus doesn’t do that.

The division we see in the world is ‘caused’ and it harms people. We see division laid out because people are pitted against each other. We have folks in authoritative positions telling us that because of what this person believes, or how they live, or who they love, or where they come from – that they are bad people. Perhaps even beneath you because ‘you’ are a part of this certain group.

Have y’all noticed that?

We see it at work in the world of politics, don’t we? Especially during this time. Where those high up in either party will tell you that those people on the ‘other side’ of the aisle are terrible. No good. Not worth listening to. In fact, they aren’t even people.

It’s frustrating. It’s hurtful. It isn’t right.

We have churches and people within those respective traditions sniping at one another because beliefs don’t line up perfectly. It happens between folks in differing church bodies, it happens between people who are a part of the same church body.

It’s frustrating. It’s hurtful. It isn’t right.

The division that we see – that I see – in this world is one that can be dangerous and harmful for others. Where we are persuaded to think of the ones before us to be ‘less than’ compared to ourselves. That the division we see at play is because we are told that we need to watch out for ourselves. We need to care for ourselves first. We need to make sure that we have everything first before we can even begin to think about those people over there.

But, I don’t think that’s the sort of division that Jesus brings into the world. I don’t think that’s the case at all.

Jesus does bring division. But, it isn’t to hurt others. It isn’t to separate people from one another, just because.

Jesus’ word and life and call does cause division. It does. Because what Jesus proclaims and invites us into rubs up against what the world proclaims.

The world might say, ‘We need to close this off. We need to care for ourselves. We need to dismiss these people because of where they come from, who they are, who they choose to love, and what they look like.’

And as much as we might want to say that the ‘world’ doesn’t do that, it does. But, it doesn’t do it overtly (most of the time). It does it through jokes, through stories, through snide and bullying comments, through portrayals on the news, through the words and actions that are not addressed or spoken up about. The world and those in power sow that sort of division readily among us. The world proclaims that life. That the person next to you is trying to get yours, one up you, or get you in some way. So, watch out.

Yet, Jesus’ words speak counter to that thought and those views. Jesus causes division because he stands firmly against and says ‘no’ to the status quo. He challenges the ‘way its always been’ and shows us the truth of God’s love and light and power that is made manifest in every person and part of creation.

Jesus causes division because he shines the light on the ways that the world is wrong. He speaks out against those who shut people out, who separate folks from others, who wish to divide one another because they’ll be ‘easier’ to manipulate. Jesus says NO to all of that.

Jesus comes to bring division, not peace.

Jesus’ word and life and mere presence is like the Word of God used as a hammer that shatters us to pieces. It breaks us up. It tears down the walls that we have erected, and the world has helped us build to shut and keep people out. That hammer of God that topples the thoughts of ‘it’s always been that way’ and more. The hammer of God’s Word knocks us down. It causes division.

But, the Word of God – Jesus’ life, presence, and love – is also like fire. Not the type of fire that causes havoc and destruction, but the kind of fire that brings warmth and life. The kind of fire that helps cook and blend a delicious meal. The kind of fire that can repair the broken pieces back together into something different, beautiful, and what God has intended all along.

God’s word shatters us with the hammer, and God’s word brings us together into what God has intended our life to be.

A life that does stand against the sin and evil in this world. The sin that we have taken for granted because ‘it’s always been that way.’ The sin that we have taken for granted because those in power say that it’s right. The sin that we have taken for granted because we say we can’t do anything different.

Jesus causes that division to occur, separating us from the way of life that doesn’t bring life, grace, forgiveness, and acceptance from and to others. Jesus causes division when we begin to see the world through the eyes and ways of God instead of through the smudged glasses of the world. Jesus causes division when his Word and life show us a different, a better, a righteous way.

We like to think that Jesus is all about warm fuzzies. Jesus makes us feel good. Jesus doesn’t disturb. Jesus doesn’t rock the boat. Jesus is just content.

But, that isn’t what Jesus did at all. That isn’t what Jesus’ life and invitation calls us into.

The call of faith does disturb. It does challenge. It does rock the boat. It isn’t ‘content’ with what has always been.

Jesus brings division, not peace.

The division of Jesus is from the firm “NO” that he shouts to the sin of the world that is so easy to let into our lives. The sin that is so tantalizingly sweet because it lets us not move forward. The sin that causes us to sit back and not engage with the injustices of the world.

It has been said, the Word of God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comforted.

Jesus’ Word – his life and breath within us – causes and compels us to move, to engage, to stir, to speak, to move, to stand, to accept, to forgive, to affirm, to love. And when you do that? It causes division. It afflicts us. It isn’t peaceful.

The world struggles. The world fights. The world grasps and gasps to hold on to the status quo. And Jesus says, “No. That is not the way.”

Jesus brings division, not peace. Jesus invites us to see the world in the way that God does. Jesus invites us to see others how God sees them – how God sees each of us. As wonderful, beautiful, and amazing creations of God.

That life and all its creatures – you and me, those over there, the trees and the fields, the waters and all the life therein – all of it, all of us, all of you – are all valuable. All have worth. All are together in God’s eyes and embrace. God is indeed close at hand and not far off from us, from them, from the world.

Jesus wants us to see the world that way. Jesus calls us to live into the world that way. That way of love, hospitality, and welcome.

And that way? It causes division. The world gasps and grasps to maintain the status quo. And here comes Jesus with the Word of God – with his very life, passion, death, and resurrection – and shatters the old way. And here comes the fire of God’s spirit – the Holy Spirit – that shapes and molds us into who God has created us to be.

Jesus has come to bring division. Jesus comes to show us another away. And thank God that he has. Amen.

 




August 12, 2019, 10:02 AM

the one about our hearts and treasure...


Sermon from August 11, 2019

Text: Luke 12:32-40

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, this morning we read one of Jesus’ most ‘mis-remembered’ sayings. I’ve heard people talk about this text countless times and have heard them switch up the two most important parts, and when you do that it truly changes how to interpret this text.

When recalling this text, some people seem to remember the phrasing of Jesus’ words to be, “Where your heart is, there your treasure will be.”

And that’s nice. Your treasure is in your heart. Such a wonderful sentiment. And it happens to many people – some you’d least expect. One of my good friends in seminary quoted this text in the incorrect way during his first preached sermon in our homiletics class. He was lovingly corrected, and he’s an awesome pastor in North Carolina now.

I think we mis-remember this text in that particular way, because that interpretation is easier to digest. We want to believe that our hearts are where our treasure is at. That innately we are good, righteous, and just people. That we are at our core loving, accepting, and forgiving people. That in our inner most being, we follow where God leads.

Where your heart is, there your treasure will be.

But, that’s not what the text says. No, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

That’s harder. That’s more difficult.

In this small part of our reading, Jesus is asking his disciples – Jesus is asking us – what are the things that you value? What sorts of things in your life do you give worth to? For whatever you give value and worth – that’s where your heart will be.

I think for us as Americans, this is a text that should rock us to our core. Because there are so many things that we value and assign worth to, that fly in the face of what our Lord calls us to do.

And we all fall victim to it, we all participate within it – even me. Perhaps even especially me.

We assign value and worth to so many clothes, shoes, gadgets, trinkets, and more. We clamor for the small and big things in our lives in such gluttonous ways not thinking about what it takes to bring those items to our lives.

Sure, we love the cool shoes and the fancy clothes we wear, and we probably know that they are made by small hands – perhaps children’s hands – and those who craft them are not given a fair living wage or working conditions – but, we like our clothes so we compartmentalize those thoughts and go on about our days.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We love our gadgets – I love my gadgets – I love entertainment. Yet, I and we watch and consume those things knowing full well many folks who have their hands in the creation of that product. Whether it be a phone, a movie, or a game are not paid adequately for their work.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We love our ways of life. We don’t like change. We don’t like to hear the cries, the fears, the stories of those around us who have lived a life different from our own. It’s hard to hear. They make us uncomfortable. Hearing the stories of those who seek shelter and safety. Hearing the stories of those who experience hurt, oppression, ridicule, and hate all because of where they come from, who they love, or what they look like.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus calls us to another way. Jesus states to his disciples and friends that they are to give up that which they are used to. Give to those in need. Sell what you own. Give trust and hope into the one who never wears out. Make your treasure in God – make your treasure in the way of God.

Be ready for action. Be ready to be sent. Be ready for the return of God.

Be ready as you stay up to make sure that others are cared for. Be ready as you live into the call to faith that Jesus invites us into. Be ready to be served by the one who will return.

I’m pretty certain that what Jesus tells us here is one of the most difficult things for us to hear as people of faith living in our part of the world today. It’s difficult, it makes us uneasy, we like to try to gloss over, speak around, or just flat out ignore what our Lord is telling us.

We also get upset when someone points it out.

Yet, here is what I know.

Jesus states that we should be alert for the return of the master. We should be at the ready, not knowing when that time will come.

The return of Jesus – the master, our Lord – isn’t a time of fearful fretting. Jesus paints a wonderful and beautiful picture of what that return will be like.

We’ve heard it been said that when Jesus returns, he’ll bring fire and brimstone. He’ll sit at the judgment seat and declare whether we’ve been ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the eyes of God. Where we will face the consequences of what we’ve done.

We’ve been fed a picture of fear and gloom to ‘whip us’ into some sort of shape.

Yet, the words that Jesus speaks here is not one of foreboding or gloom. The ones who wait for the master don’t do so with apprehension and fear.

The master returns to serve them. That’s strange isn’t it? It isn’t what we expect. It really isn’t what we’ve been heard screamed from the rooftops and the street corners.

We are alert and ready for the return of the master who comes to sit us at the table and feast with us. That’s pretty amazing. That is the love of God.

We’ve been told that we need to ‘shape up’ because God is coming for us and that it won’t be good.

Yet, I’m here to say to you now. We are to be alert and ready, we are to be at work in the world in waiting hope of our God’s return. Caring for those in need, seeing where our lives are bringing hurt (whether intentional or not) to those around us and around the world and changing our ways. We are to see where our treasure is, because that is where our hearts will be. We do that not out of fear of what is to come.

But, we are alert and ready in anticipation and hope of the one who is to come. The one who sits us at the table. The one who fastens a belt around his waist. The one who models service and love to those all around. The one who invites us to care for others as God cares for the world. The one who stoops down to wash the feet of his friends. The one who serves those around him.

That’s the master we wait for.

That’s the one in whom we put our treasure and where our hearts will be found.

That’s the one who calls us to love and serve and be with those around us.

We wait yes, but we do so in action for others and in anticipation of the one who comes to serve.

We wait. We serve. The one coming loves us. Let us all live into the love that God shows the world. Amen.




August 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

August 2019 Newsletter Article


Grace and peace to you all this wonderful month of August!

Summer break is ending, and school will begin soon. Schedules will become a bit more routine. The weather will continue to go through its rambunctiousness of blisteringly hot and monsoon rainstorms as we move into the hurricane season. All in the life of living in South Carolina in the middle of summer.

As we move into this new month, I cannot help, but notice that we have multiple opportunities to be a deeper and more welcoming community of faith. Whether it be with those who are already a part of our community, with those who might be curious about what our community entails, and those who have never heard of us.

Recently, I’ve been approached (and approached a few people myself) who are in need of help getting from place to place. Whether it be worship, the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, or the pharmacy – there are folks within our community here at Redeemer who – for whatever reason – just need a little bit of help. So, if you’d be interested in being a driver for these folks, please contact the church office so we can get a nice list of volunteers and match you up with some folks in need. Not only does this help those who are unable to drive, but it really does help build community, deepen relationships, and create new friendships! Imagine the stories you’ll get to hear as you share with one another on those car rides!

August is also the month that new school years begin. Newberry College, our local and private schools, and pre-schools will all be starting up this month. That gives us opportunity to not only welcome those new and returning students, but also to help those schools and teachers with supplies.

As you are out school shopping for the kids in your life, perhaps buying a few extra supplies to be given to Boundary Elementary School, Newberry Elementary School, Newberry Middle School, Newberry High School, and Newberry Academy? Paper, pencils, crayons, folders, and more can help relieve a lot of stress and burden not only from students who need them, but from teacher’s shoulders as well (who typically purchase them).

We also have an opportunity towards the end of August to welcome those new and returning students to Newberry College at their annual Community Engagement Fair. This is a time for us to be with those students. Make ourselves known, tell them that they are loved, show them they are welcomed, and give blessings to them on this new school year. So, on August 22nd, we will be on the Quad at Newberry College to welcome those students to our community. Join us that day!

It’s August, we move into more routine schedules, but we also get to live out the radical hospitality and welcome that our Lord models for us and calls us into!

Live into that faithful hospitality and radical welcome – not only in these opportunities, but throughout each day of your life!


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