Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad.

A few weeks ago we hosted the Presbyterians and Methodists for a combined Thanksgiving worship service and I asked our folks to park at the library to make room for others.  This made me think of my dad, circa 1990s.

Almost every Sunday Dad ignored the legion of open parking spots closest to the entrance at church.  He followed this up by ignoring spots at the most far away lot until he reached the very last space; that is where the McKowns parked.  I didn't realize it as a girl, but my dad was often looking for ways to make room for others.  This subtle kindness left a mark on me.

My dad serves in lots of ways--most of which he wouldn't want you to know. I like that about him.

He doesn't clamor for applause either.  Mike McKown does good things because he is a good man.  He is also unflinchingly fair, which is a rare and needed gift in our world.  I like that too.

Tomorrow is this special fellow's birthday (and it's a big one!), and I am so glad to be his daughter.  Happy Birthday Dad!

Dad & Katie went to the Holy Land this year.  Here he is having a wondrous time.
Give him lots of hugs today.  He loves hugs. (wink)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Night, Preacher's Delight!

One of the world's best pastors, Bill Smith, taught me this fun proverb: Sunday Night, Preacher's Delight!  I am feelin' it today, friends.

There is a air of vibrancy at Scottsville Baptist Church.  The Holy Spirit is moving.  On some Sundays it's like a thousand lightning bugs were let loose in the sanctuary and we're running around trying to catch all the joy.  Today was like that. (I made about 14 jokes.  Thanks for laughing at 12 of them.)  Sunday Night, Preacher's Delight!

This afternoon our Sunday School class visited a local nursing home. Susan organized the day so well.  We shared cookies, visited folks' rooms, sang carols, played bingo, and gave away lots of fun door prizes.  We laughed and we shed some tears too.  Lots of folks are missing spouses and loved ones.  We thanked veterans, and listened to stories.  It was a gift.

The residents enjoyed bingo!
We enjoyed Starbucks.
I love seeing church members thrive in ministry.  I love seeing the church worshipping with gladness, meeting needs, and being the presence of Christ to one another.

Sunday Night, Preacher's Delight indeed.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What Makes Your Heart Sing?

Watching church members thrive in ministry makes my heart sing.  This is a true gift of pastoral ministry.  When folks are engaging spiritual gifts and living like Jesus, it is a privilege to be part.

This week the Spirit has been singing at Scottsville Baptist, and I love it. There is a sense of vibrancy in our community.  Just this week church members have:

  • Prepared homemade soup & casserole for table fellowship with those visiting our clothing closet
  • Brainstormed new ideas in committee meetings
  • Practiced anthems for Thanksgiving worship with Presbyterian & Methodist brethren and sistren
  • Bought healthy foods (50 pounds of oats, 50 pounds of rice, fruit, etc.) for our pantry
  • Emailed visitors
  • Prepared Thanksgiving meals for those in need
  • Donated and processed deer, which was then shared with folks visiting the food pantry
  • Helped me at the parsonage
  • Organized a Sunday School mission outing to a nursing home in Charlottesville (in lieu of a party)
  • Made Chrismons
  • Prepared meals for new parents in our congregation 
  • Given pastoral care
  • Designed a welcome sign
  • A hundred other things of which I'm not aware

  • The best part is many of these things were led by church members (not the pastor)!  I am grateful for willing, excited leaders.  These are folks taking initiative and serving the Lord with gusto and gladness.

    It's a joy to be part of this.

    Thanks Alex for the welcome sign!  My personality is adequately captured!
    Thanksgiving baskets assembled by the Gaines family!

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    We're Having Fun.

    I've been pastor of Scottsville Baptist for two years.  When people ask how things are going, these words fly out of my mouth:  "We're having fun!"  And by that I don't mean we're running an entertainment business or Christian themed water park.  I mean God's-grace-is-in-this-place kind of fun.

    On Wednesday a few of us went to a Saint John's Bible presentation at Bybee's Road Baptist Church.  We learned and ate at a Yelp-rated restaurant and I over-trusted the GPS.  Joan said "This is an adventure!" 

    We're having fun.

    On Saturday the deacons gathered from 9a to 3p to pray, brainstorm, and plan for the upcoming year.  The deacon chair and her husband arrived forty minutes early in case I might need help.  I did.  Deacon ministry is important and serious, but we laughed some too.  

    We're having fun. 

    During Sunday School yesterday I was told "Dressing a buck is not your spiritual gift." This is true.  

    We're having fun.

    In October we had the privilege of commissioning the Moores, two of our newest members, to seasonal ministry at St. David RV Resort in Arizona.  Yesterday was their first worship service and guess what?  Eleven people showed up!  They were ecstatic. We are too.  

    First Bible Study!
    We're having fun.

    Yesterday afternoon Matt Earman treated our kiddos and the Methodist kiddos to a hayride on the farm where he works.  We met goats, horses, cows, and tried to be quiet enough to make friends with catfish.  We feasted on pigs-in-blankets for lunch. 

    We're having fun.

    During the welcome and announcement time yesterday, the church gave me a generous anniversary gift.  Phillip threatened to change the bylaws so I could never leave.  The people have encouraged me, prayed for me, and eagerly walked alongside me.  

    We're having fun.  I'm grateful.  

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    "We Sing, She Talks"

    On Saturday we had visitors to our monthly children's gathering.  What a happy surprise!  One of our sweet fellas set out to describe a worship service for them:  "We sing, she talks, we sing, she talks."

    Day made.

    Later in the morning the same sweet fella began talking about our church again.  He grinned from ear to ear and looked right at me. "Our church is awesome.  Right, Pastor Katie?"


    Cue crocodile tears of joy.

    That moment right there was God's grace.  Thank you, Jesus.

    Hey children's teachers & leaders, VBS volunteers, and other mentors at Scottsville Baptist: Well done.  Our children know they are loved.  They like coming to church.  They are being shaped to know Christ. 

    What a gift to see God's grace evident on this little fella's face.  Thank you for making church awesome for kiddos, grown ups.

    Pastor Bruce leads the popular plate-on-head relay race.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014


    Even though the Nats are in first place (what what), they lost on Friday when I was at the game.  Back in the lean, painful years of 2005-2011, John Brewer used to say I cursed the Nats with my presence.  Perhaps for the Nats sake it is best I watch from a distance on MASN, a la Sting's "I'll be Watching You."
    As I walked to my car in sadness on Friday night, I was encouraged by a most welcome sign.  At a Catholic Church just a block from the stadium, this invitation was issued: 
    Photo borrowed from @catholicgauze.  Edited by moi.
    #NatsMass gives Catholics an opportunity to worship while they're on the way to the baseball game on Sunday afternoons.  I like it.  Way to go St. Vincent De Paul!
    I was not in on the committee meetings when they decided to start this new service, but here's what the church could have done when the stadium was built a few years ago:  Thrown up their hands in frustration!  Complained about the construction and noise!  Looked in judgment at all those people skipping worship for baseball!  
    That's what the church could have done when everything around them was changing.
    Here's what the church did instead:  Added a service to accomodate Catholics on their way to the baseball game!  Spent $$ designing a big banner invitation to thousands!  Launched a social media campaign (#NatsMass) so folks would be welcomed.
    There are many ways to respond to change.  #NatsMass is a good way.
    How do most of our churches react when everything around us changes?  Do we respond with complaints and anger?  Or do we respond by spending time and $$ to reach folks in a creative way?

    Since we're talking sports, I know many pastors and church folk are frustrated when youth games are scheduled on Sundays & Wednesdays.  And all sports are year round now.  I have been frustrated too. 
    It wasn't like that when I was growing up.  My dad was often the coach and our practices on Wednesday nights followed GAs and children's & adult choirs.  I miss those days.
    But those days aren't today.  They aren't.  And bellyachin' won't help, friends.  Many have tried that method.  It doesn't work. 
    We can kick and scream...or we can be like this creative Catholic church.  They continue to have Mass at the regular time, but they added a service on game days to make attending services just a little bit easier.  
    With that said:  Worship is much more important than any sporting event and we won't be able to make things easier for everyone.  Sometimes people will have to make a decision when soccer  interferes with their regularly scheduled time of worship.  Sometimes it's okay for people to have to choose. 
    When possible though, perhaps the church could try to make things just a little bit easier.  Surely we can at least sit at the drawing board and try. 

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Grace at God's Pace

    Even when I'm worried...
    Even when I'm tired...
    Even when I'm frustrated...
    Even when I don't understand...
    Even when pride blinds me...

    God's grace meets me where I am.  I'm grateful.

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    On Hands and Knees

    I cleaned my kitchen floors yesterday.  I'm embarrassed to admit it, but they were unbelievably gross.  Old Cheerios, crusted cranberries, sticky spots, and my tresses littered the corners of the kitchen:  The whole gang was there!  I sweep often, but rarely do I get on my hands and knees to scrub. 

    While working on the floors I heard Fred Craddock preach an unassuming, outstanding sermon.  My goodness.  It was one of those sermons where the words were written just for me, just for that day, just for that moment.  And when a sermon helps me realize who I am and who I can be in Christ, that is gift.    

    It didn't occur to me until later I might've actually heard the sermon because of my posture. 

    I do not normally find myself in a posture of humility, and I am not normally a humble person.  There's no doubt Craddock's sermons are easy on the ears, but I think being on hands and knees helped me hear.  Perhaps a step forward in humility is first assuming the position.

    Humility makes us better hearers and by physically lowering ourselves, we embrace the posture of servanthood Jesus modeled and taught. I wonder how much we miss by sitting, walking, running, or even standing behind a pulpit. 

    A posture of humility can help us receive in an attitude of humility.  And maybe when our bodies are in a position to receive, our ears (and lives) more readily follow suit.

    "The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen…I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees before the Blessed Sacrament."  
    Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    My Turn

    Flying scares me. 

    I do frequent the friendly skies, but a favorite hobby it is not.  Because my family lives far away, flying is a necessary part of my life.  So, I've developed little rituals to help ease my nerves.  As I board the aircraft, I touch the outside of the plane and try to meet the pilot's gaze. "Good luck. I support you," I say with my eyes. This randomly brings me some measure of comfort.

    I'm not proud of my weird, but there it is.

    I'm prone to motion sickness and also A GIANT METAL TUBE WEIGHING THOUSANDS OF TONS SOMEHOW LIFTS INTO THE SKY.  By the grace of God I managed a 'B' in Physics, but for the life of me I cannot understand how air travel works.  Something to do with letters, numbers, and triangles.

    On Saturday night I was flying home to Virginia from Kentucky.  The older gentleman seated next to me seemed nervous.  He fumbled around for the seat belt before buckling.  As others popped in earbuds, he listened carefully to safety instructions.  Poor fellow was scared to death.

    He seemed to settle a bit, but then we hit some turbulence.  He held on to the tray table like a life preserver.  I looked at him and smiled politely.  He deadpanned "I do not prefer air travel."  He looked away.  I tried to exude calm.

    When the turbulence died down we began to chat. I learned this was his first flight.  He had taken the train to see his son, but circumstances necessitated a flight home.  He talked.  I listened.  Later, when his hands began to tremble I tried to reassure and support. 

    It was my turn to be strong for someone else.

    Being strong for someone else is not easy; especially when we have the same fears or doubts or worries.  Some may wonder if being strong for someone else is inauthentic, but I don't think it is. 

    Being strong for someone else doesn't mean lying about fears or doubts or worries: It simply means giving support, strength, and calm as gift to someone else.  It's not always about me.  It's not always about you.

    Sometimes it's our turn to be strong for someone else.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

    Learning From Those With Whom We Disagree

    During the month of May Scottsville Baptist is reading and studying Thom Rainer's "I am a Church Member." It was mailed to me by my mom the easter bunny who still sends goodies via US Postal Service every spring.  I might as well say it: I'm pro-Jesus and pro-bunny.  YOU try planning Holy Week services without a Peep or seven.  Let me know how that works.  

    Rainer's book has been helpful to our church.  It is easy to understand and asks good questions.  Rainer encourages the church to approach church membership as gift.  He challenges us to embody a sacrificial attitude and not to blame others (whoever the others are).  It's a good book.  

    Do I agree with all of it?  No.  In the chapter about praying for church leaders the pronoun 'he' is used exclusively to describe the pastor.  Is 'he' the main point of the book?  No.  Is it distracting?  Yes.  Can I still learn from the book?  Of course.

    Here's the thing:  I want to be the kind of person who not only says she has an open mind; I actually want to have one.  I fail at this often, and sometimes I'm not good at listening to folks who don't affirm my call. But I want to be better.  Seriously.  

    The polarization within Protestantism is staggering. How can we move forward if we're not willing to engage? We don't have to agree 100% to learn from each other.  The name-calling and unfair comparisons seem out of control.  Are we working toward reconciliation and movement forward for Christ?   

    I told Scottsville Baptist folks to put 's' before 'he' and all will be well! The joke landed PTL and we moved on. Baptists can think for themselves after all (paging soul freedom, aisle two).  If an author who leans right or left (however such adjectives are measured!) helps point us to Jesus Christ, let's dig in and learn. (Of course it won't always be this simple, but can we try?)  Harvest the wheat and brush off the chaff. 

    You might read the book and think it's not helpful.  That's fine.  I'm only hoping we can approach those with whom we disagree with an open mind and gentle spirit.  It's the only way to move forward.  

    Monday, May 12, 2014

    This Old House.

    I love this old, creaking parsonage.  Every day her bones cry out loudly and without warning. She's settling in for the next hundred I suppose.  I've grown accustomed to her hollers. 

    Her floors are hardwood and they were cool before hardwood floors were cool. Sometimes I think about the life they've held: Open houses, Christmas parties, difficult conversations, Sunday School dinners, move-in celebrations, and weddings (over 150!)...if floors could talk!

    The tradition of old houses excite me.  It's true:  Some walls could come down. Some repairs are warranted.  Some updating could improve the value. But in the end, old houses are pretty great.  

    I like new houses too.  Open concept kitchens, palatial bathrooms, and generous backyards are hard to beat.  It's true: Luxurious amenities aren't needs, but for a family of 6 more than 1 bathroom is...helpful!

    In the end, new houses are pretty great too.  New houses account for modern sensibilities and suit the palate of a 2014 homeowner-to-be.   

    Both new and old houses have the same basic goal:  Shelter.  Both have their charms.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    Might this apply to church?

    Like old and new houses, there is more than one way to "do" church.  Both new and old (should!) have the same heartbeat:  Jesus Christ is Lord!  

    Yesterday our guest worship leader, Rachel Shultz, told me she is eager to come alongside traditional churches and experience with them newer expressions of worship.  She finds value in both old and new.  I like that.

    Traditions shouldn't be cast aside simply because they are old or seemingly outdated.  Boo on those reasons.  At the same time new expressions shouldn't be eschewed simply because "we've never done it that way before."   Boo on those words.  Both new and old expressions of church have their gifts; why not learn from each other?

    Both old and new can use renovations from time to time.  Lately I've decided to emphasize 'change' less because I don't think that's what the church needs.  I think what we all need is a holy kind of flexibility.  I think we all need to be malleable to the Holy Spirit.  I hope we are doing that. I hope I am doing that.

    This month our theme is "Worship and the Arts" and we're opening ourselves to ways of worship different than our norm.  Thanks Scottsville Baptist for your willingness.  It is a joy to experience God with you in old and new ways.  

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    A Holy Privilege

    As the hospital doors open, I pray God's openness in my spirit.  I pray God grants me His ears to listen.  I pray for God's wisdom. 

    Sometimes I know the prognosis of the person I'm visiting.  Other times I don't.  Sometimes it is life threatening.  Other times it is life-giving.  I've held the hand of the elderly and cradled the wide-eyed newborn within the span of a few days. 

    Hospital visits are a holy privilege.  Each one.

    Sometimes I know the person I'm visiting.  Other times I don't.  Sometimes it is a cousin or brother or niece or friend of a friend.  I don't always know what to expect, but I know The One who goes with me. 

    Lately I've visited senior members in the hospital.  It's humbling to help shepherd these saints:  They have the wisdom as vast as the Atlantic, and yet they allow me to minister to them.

    Hospital visits are a holy privilege.  Each one. 

    Sunday, March 23, 2014

    And a Little Girl Led Them

    When Granny arranges flowers mid-week, her granddaughter likes to pray from the pulpit.  This sweet anecdote made me smile.  I asked if Little Girl would like to pray during the service.

    This morning six-year-old Little Girl showed up with a written prayer and song.  I love how seriously she approached worship leadership.  Little Girl sat with me until it was time for the prayer.  She asked God to help sick animals and people with broken bones.  What beautiful particularity.

    "…and a little child shall lead them." (Isaiah 11:6)

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    Baptized in Water

    Today was a celebration at Scottsville Baptist Church as we baptized Jen Gaines, Caleb Bouw, and Ashley Gaines!  You could feel the joy in the sanctuary.

    Caleb, Jen, Ashley, and Katie
    The call to ministry allows me the amazing privilege to baptize these folks.  What a beautiful, humbling thing.

    Before immersing these friends I asked each of them "Who is your Lord and Savior?" Jen, Caleb, and Ashley each replied "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!"  I love that.  It is testimony.  It is ownership of the decision.  It is proclamation of Jesus Christ.  In a nutshell:  It's the good news.

    When I was at the Jordan River last week I bottled up some of the water.  I poured some in the baptistry this morning to mix the waters of Jesus' baptism with the waters of Jen, Caleb, and Ashley's baptism.  I later invited those who wanted to remember their baptisms to come forward to receive the sign of the cross on their hand or forehead with Jordan water.  It was a special time.

    You would think the day couldn't get better, but then…cake appeared! Thanks to the families of Jen, Caleb, and Ashley for providing lunch and cake for everyone.

    Thanks be to God for a wonderful day.

    (At press time UVA is beating Duke:  The wonderful day continues!  Praise be!)

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    Snapshots of the Old City

    Walking the Via Dolorosa
    Church of the Holy Sepulchre:  Traditional site of the empty tomb of Jesus.

    Entrance to the traditional empty tomb site

    The Western or Wailing Wall with prayers stuffed in the cracks.
    Near Huldah's Gate on the teaching steps of Jesus.

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

    Sea of Galilee

    I am praying for Scottsville Baptist Church as I type.  I am grateful for Rev. Ed Goodwin, pastor and person extraordinaire, who was willing to preach in my absence.  Ed has been a great encouragement and support to me.  I am eager to hear about worship and the youth mission trip. There are many great things happening at Scottsville Baptist!

    The morning began on the Sea of Galilee.  It is more beautiful than I imagined.  As we sailed I could see Jesus preaching The Sermon on the Mount.  I could see him healing persons possessed with demons.  I could see him ministering to the least of these.  I could see him healing Simon Peter's mother-in-law and the man who was paralyzed.  I could see the love in his eyes and hands.

    I see Jesus anew I think.  Perhaps that sounds trite, but it's true.  

    The Sea of Galilee
    Once we arrived on the other side of the sea, we had an opportunity to walk to the shore.  As a tactile learner I got my gazelle on and practically sprinted to the sea.  I was thrilled to put my feet in the water.



    Friday, March 7, 2014

    The Humble Door

    As the people of Scottsville Baptist Church enjoy a second cup of coffee this morning, I am praying for those who will participate in God's mission this weekend!  I am praying for our leaders (Hallie, Matt, Sue, and Lynda) and our students (Caleb, William, Michael, Bruce, Kimberly, Brandon, and Mariah).  I am praying for the Mission Madness leaders and the CBF of Virginia.  

    Yesterday we visited the Church of the Nativity (the traditional site of Jesus' birth).  Before entering the ornate building you must walk through a tiny door (named the humble door).  Nearly everyone has to duck to get through it.  The door is open to all, but you have to humble yourself to come inside.  As they say "That'll preach."

    Dad entering the Church of the Nativity through the humble door
    Today we visited Jerusalem.  It is magnificent.  There is more to say. When I find my words again, I will tell you about it.

    View of Jerusalem's Old City

    Katie and Dad In Jerusalem

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

    Ash Wednesday in Bethlehem

    We arrived in Israel at approximately 6:00pm Wednesday night.  It is now almost 10:00pm.  We are still awake!  If you know my dad this is no small miracle.  Here we are being happy, but also being tired.

    We're in Israel!  

    The drive from Tel Aviv to Bethlehem was full of new sights and sounds. When the Bible says "he went up to Jerusalem" it is spot on! The city on the hill was marvelous even at night.  I look forward to visiting Jerusalem at the end of our trip.

    Tonight we are in Bethlehem.  After a delicious dinner, we shared an Ash Wednesday Service outside overlooking Jesus' birthplace.  It's hard to find the words.

    From our Ash Wednesday Service:

    God of our lives, out of the dust of creation
    you have formed us and given us life.
    May these ashes not only be a sign
    of our repentance and death,
    but reminders that by your gift of grace
    in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer,
    we are granted life forever with you.  Amen.

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    Weathering the Storms

    At least once in your life (probably more) you will experience some kind of conflict within the church.  At least once in your life (probably more) you will experience some kind of doubt in your faith.  If these two things happen at once you might consider leaving the church altogether. I hope you won't do that.  Even if every fiber of your being says "GET OUT" I hope you won't do that.

    Instead I hope you'll do this one thing:  Visit an elderly member of your church.

    Hold her hand.  Talk to him about his first love.  Pray together. Laugh. Wheel her around the assisted living home.  Meet his friends.  Ask why he first joined First Baptist.  Ask why she stayed at First Baptist.  Give him a kiss on the forehead.  Eat lunch together.  Listen to his wise words.  Ask to see pictures of her grandchildren.  Smell his prize-winning gardenias.  Meet their cows. Eat all the cookies she offers.

    Visiting seniors won't magically make conflict disappear, but it will connect you to folks who have loved the church for longer than you've been alive.  That love usually isn't flippant or naive, so listen carefully. Ask how they stayed with the church when the going got rough.

    Visiting seniors may not make doubt subside, but it will connect you to folks who have experienced their fair share and lived to tell about it. Ask how they trusted God when the going got rough.

    Visit these friends and listen.  Learn how you might weather the storms.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    Seen and Unseen

    There are many ways in which the church can reach out in mission, but where do we start?  As the prayer of the Breton fisherman goes "O God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small."  The optimist in me responds by saying "But we do have a boat!"  It may be a two-person canoe in the Atlantic, but we've got a boat.  Let's see where we can go and what we can do.

    One way I hope the Scottsville Baptist boat floats is by participating in missions both seen and unseen.  'Seen' missions are often tangible.  We often see instant results:  hungry bellies filled, utility bills paid, or children gathered to learn Bible stories.  'Seen' missions is giving bread, doing home repair, and leading a neighborhood VBS.  'Seen' missions is important work.  

    'Unseen' missions is important work too; however 'unseen' missions are rarely tangible.  'Unseen' missions are writing grants, supporting an underground church, or searching for trouble we cannot see.  'Unseen' missions is rescuing the hidden. 'Unseen' missions is actively looking for the oppressed.  

    Both 'seen' and 'unseen' missions are imperative.  It's not an issue of either/or.  It's both/and.    

    Tonight Scottsville Baptist hosted faith-based ministry The Arbor.  The Arbor "endeavor(s) to create a welcoming home, a community of healing, and a peaceful refuge for foreign-born trafficking survivors in Virginia in order to reclaim wholenessfreedom, and life in early 2015."  Currently there is no such home in Virginia that ministers to the particular needs of trafficked persons.  Virginia churches, I hope you will consider inviting The Arbor to talk with your congregation.  Please comment, call, or email if you have questions.  I am eager to connect you.

    While the complexities of modern-day slavery are difficult to grasp, it is imperative faith communities step up and help restore trafficked persons in the name of Christ.  The Arbor is 'unseen' missions.  Victims of human-trafficking are all around us, yet remain hidden.  This 'unseen' tragedy survives on its ability to be underground.  Awareness and action are key.  We've all got to play a part in restoration.   Scottsville Baptist boat, let's pray about 'unseen' missions and how we might be part.

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    A great day for Scottsville Baptist

    Admittedly some days in the church community can be a challenge, but other days are so full of joy it is barely containable!  It is important to celebrate such days.  Yesterday was that kind of vibrant, life-giving day for Scottsville Baptist:  

    1.  A youth led in worship (with our great pianist) by playing the violin.  Thanks Hannah and Janice!

    2.  The kiddos were introduced to my lookalike muppet, Little Katie, during the children's sermon.  They were unexpectedly (to me) terrified. 

    "Do you want to hold her?"  Nervous shaking heads said no.  

    (Post services, they warmed to her.)

    3.  We shared the Lord's Supper.

    4.  Two wonderful folks joined the Scottsville Baptist family.  Welcome Hallie and Matt!  The congregation broke out in thunderous applause. We laughed.  We smiled.  We forgot to vote.  (We later voted over soup per Robert's Rules of Order, Section 5 "If You Forget to Vote") 'Twas great.

    If ever you wonder how thrilled pastors are when folks join the church, look no further than my face.  

    5.  We enjoyed a delicious Souper Bowl Sunday lunch.  Thanks Barbara and team for your work!  $420 was raised to help offset youth mission trip costs.

    6.  We set a February goal of collecting 200 rolls of toilet paper for the food pantry.  People walked in the doors of the church armed with Charmin. We laughed!  The collection box was overflowing with TP! Huzzah!

    In the words of Paul Harvey, "GOOD DAY!"

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Without Words

    The first 10 minutes of UP tell a better story than other movies tell in 2 hours.  In 10 minutes we fall in love with a boy-turned-curmudgeon and his adventure-chasing sweetheart.  These minutes aren't without pain.  They aren't without beauty, either.  In 10 wordless minutes we know joy and tears.

    At both our Church Council and Deacons' meetings I like to share about the good things going on among us:  Christmas caroling, parades, food and clothing ministries, planning retreats, and more make up my report. We smile because these are tangible markers moving us forward and outward.  When we are tempted to be or feel discouraged, we remember sharing apple cider with the community under the Farmers' Market Pavillion. We remember packing grocery bags full of food for the hungry.  We can touch those moments and remember.

    While it is important to celebrate tangible markers, some of the most poignant ways the Spirit is stirring can't be captured on a list.  Most of the time it is simply one being present with another.  Sometimes presence is shared in joy or celebration; other times it is with tears in our eyes.  Sometimes it is painful.  Sometimes it is beautiful. Sometimes it is both.

    It is prayer.  It is crying.  It is delivering food.  It is sitting on a hospital bed.  It is stepping out of comfort zones.  It is offering hugs.  It is empowering new folks to lead.  It is sharing a meal.

    Sometimes the best stories can't be expressed with words or lists.