First Church Family,
Wow, winter finally got here! But it’s only fall… oh well, I enjoy all of the seasons in our beautiful county!
Over the past weeks, we have had a number of visitors at the 9:00AM service who were camping/RVing in our area for a couple of weeks enjoying the beautiful autumn colors. After last Sunday’s service, a couple named Tom and Sue, who had been with us two weeks (actual names are different to protect privacy), waited their turn to have a moment with me.
“We want to tell you that we are amazed at the scope of your outreach,” Tom said. “In our travels, we haven’t experienced churches with as much dedication to serving the poor as you at First Church have. And we hope to visit with you again in the future.”
My natural response was: “Well, serving others is in our DNA. It’s who we are! And really, people who only think about themselves probably wouldn’t be comfortable here.”
“And Tom, if you and Sue are considering putting down roots after your travels, we would love to be your church family, because it seems obvious that you love the location and have a heart for serving the poor that would make you happy and fulfilled to be here.”
As I remembered our conversation later on Sunday, I was a little surprised at the directness of my response. But why was I surprised? Those are things that I believe with all my heart.
What are the things about service that you believe with all your heart?
Over the past weeks, we’ve been talking about Jesus’ Great Commandment – that begins with “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength;” and ends with: “And love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Right now, we are living out those verses! Our study of the Great Commandment has led me closer to the very heart of God.
Through this series, I’ve been challenged to let God know how much I love Him by throwing myself into feeding the poor, both literally and figuratively.
I pray that you are being led to do the same. And wow, are we offering opportunities to do that:
– funding and helping construct a Habitat house for a young family that would never be able to have their own “roof over their heads” without Habitat (dedication of house coming soon);
– providing filled Samaritan’s Purse boxes for children across the world who, without that ministry, might not know that God loves them (we need to have those boxes in by Sunday);
– offering meals and smiles to local people in need through our Room at the Table commitment (we’ll be serving again at the end of November);
– donating Thanksgiving “Bless This Meal” boxes to 125 families who will, because of our service to Christ, be able to enjoy a holiday meal in the dignity and privacy of their own homes (we need hundreds of additional dollars to fund the program and need many other volunteers on Saturday, November 18, sign-up information is below);
– donating well over 4,000 pounds of food (mainly rice) to our ministry partner Yokefellow’s food bank – feeding thousands of Caldwell countians (much food is needed, especially things appreciated around Thanksgiving – chicken soup, beans, corn, stuffing, and of course rice);
– and much, much more.
The beautiful thing about serving God is that it gives us a feeling of fulfillment that we would never have without it. I am your pastor, and I truly want you to have the fullest experience of God’s presence, love, and grace. The best way to do that is to partner with Him in ministry.
I hope to see you in church over the next Sundays. Your in-person attendance helps me be a better communicator of the Gospel.
With love and hope,