Thursday, December 14, 2017

Joyful Noise

This morning I'm surrounded by Psalm 100 on all sides, and I couldn't be happier!

Thanks to the gifts of folks near and far all of our Annex Building windows are being replaced!  The final phase is being completed as I type, so the noise of removal and installation is filling our building.

These are joyful noises unto the Lord (Psalm 100:1).

Our Food Pantry and Clothing Closet is open.  It has been especially busy today.  Bread, coats, and conversation are being shared.  I saw one of our volunteers sitting down with someone new to us--taking time to invite her to church and get to know her.

These are joyful noises unto the Lord (Psalm 100:1).

On Saturday we're hosting 'A Night in Bethlehem'.  We want to tell our friends and neighbors the story of Jesus!  We'll do this with a live manger scene and hot cocoa and bread-baking and iron-working stations and more.  We're so excited.  Our little town of Bethlehem is being organized as I type.

These are joyful noises unto the Lord (Psalm 100:1).

Our faithful secretary is busy about the work of copying worship folders for Sunday, answering the phone, and being the presence of Christ to all who enter the building.

These are joyful noises unto the Lord (Psalm 100:1).

These Thursday noises are filling my ears with gladness.  What a blessing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"Come in dearhearts!"

A few summers ago Katherine and 'B' were both recovering from various health issues at The Laurels in Charlottesville. One afternoon I stopped by for a visit and found Katherine first, and since she was always up for fun we hatched a plan to surprise 'B' in the hair salon.

We wheeled down the hallway and found 'B' caped up and ready for a color and rinse. 'B' laughed when she saw us. "Come in dearhearts!"

We had the best time talking, praying, and laughing. Can you tell?

Thanks be to God for Katherine and 'B' who have joined countless others in the great cloud of witnesses. What a privilege to have been your pastor.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Letter to the Church at Scottsville

In Paul's letter to the church at Philippi, he begins with gratitude for those with whom he shares ministry: "I thank my God every time I remember you..." (1:3)  Paul loved the churches he served, and I echo his words of thanks to the church I serve:  Thank you Scottsville Baptist Church.  

Thank you for the fifth anniversary party.  Thank you for your words and cards. Thank you for your prayers, songs, artwork, slide show, flowers, and gifts. Thank you for the meal (everyone knows the finest of restaurants can't touch a Baptist potluck).  

Thank you for spelling out your love in icing.  You know how I love cake.

I love celebrating anything for any reason with cake.

Thank you Scottsville Baptist Church.  There are many things I love about you.  Here are a few:

I love how you take your faith seriously.  I also love that you have fun.

I love your commitment to worship and your willingness to stretch.

One of the privileges of the pastorate is sharing communion with you.

I love how often I bump in to you in hospital hallways visiting our seniors.

I love your willingness to give rides to the doctor, to youth and children's activities, to the grocery, and to the bank.  

I love how you humbly go about serving anyone and everyone.  I love how you don't want or seek applause.

I love how you learn our children's interests and engage them in conversation.

The children each painted me a canvas and prayed with me.
Pass the Kleenex, please.

I love that you share the table with each other and with me.  Thank you for inviting me to family dinners and birthday parties and fish fries and graduation cookouts and Lumpkin's lunches and "Sunday drives" to the farm, festival, orchard, and ballgames.  Thank you for welcoming me to your home on Christmas Eve and taking me four-wheeling to meet your cows (even when I show up in a dress).

I love how you love the church, and I even love how competitive you are at Bible Jeopardy.

Thank you, church.  I look forward to the future!

The lovely hand-painted prayer the church gifted me.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Welcome home, Pastor!

On Saturday I returned from a most refreshing vacation.  This translates to joy (!) and an eagerness to work from rest.  I practically skipped to the parsonage from my car, and here's what was waiting for me on the back porch:

Thanks Doulos Class!
Coffee and seltzer!  I'll enjoy the beverages, but their remembering my favorite drinks is what means the most.  Thanks Doulos Class.

The next morning I found this bag of treats waiting for me in the office:  

And then I went to the Koinonia Class Sunday School room to prepare the coffee and LOL'd (actual):

The gentlemen won this round.  It is possible we are a little competitive. 
While I was away they played Bible Jeopardy and Alexa Trebek and her team were super creative.  A Mason Jar trophy was crafted for the victors while the 'almost winners' were given Dum Dums.  

I love this church.  

Our church isn't perfect BUT I'm a big believer in celebrating the good. Two of this week's "the good":  Intentional kindness to your pastor and FUN! 

Church:  Do you know what a gift your kindness and fun are to me? Thank you.  My vacation was successful in no small part because of who you are.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When You Introduce Me As Your Pastor

I love when you introduce me as your pastor.

Sometimes it's in the hospital room or funeral home.  Sometimes it's at a restaurant or over a meal at your home with friends.  Sometimes you introduce me to the waitstaff or your doctor or a Scottsvillian I haven't yet met. Sometimes you introduce me to family or coworkers or someone you're dating.  I like meeting your mother, your office mate, your boyfriend, your second cousin twice removed; and I enjoy conversation with people new to me (extrovert alert).     

When you introduce me as your pastor, I am reminded of the privilege it is to serve this role in your life. When you say "This is my pastor" it's an opportunity for me to reaffirm those sacred duties to which I am called. It's like my own 'hymn of invitation'--a chance to rededicate myself to God's call on my life; and I hope it's a chance for you to engage folks in dialogue about church and Jesus.

Thank you for introducing me as your pastor.  I love it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Eleven on Eleven

I can hardly believe it, but Sunday was the 11th anniversary of my ordination.

In some ways June 11, 2006 seems like yesterday.  In other ways it seems like a lifetime ago.

Time is funny like that.

In 2006 I had no idea how joyful this calling would be.  Yes it can be challenging.  Yes it can be stressful. It's both of those adjectives and a few more, but the first, most prevalent descriptor of ministry is joyful.  

At Scottsville Baptist we are in a season of joy and yesterday was no exception; so in celebration of my 11th ordination, here are 11 highlights from June 11:

  1. Spirited Discussion of Stewardship in Sunday School.  We're finishing up the book of James.  James doesn't kid around and our discussion didn't either.  The class is serious about faith AND they know how to laugh:  What a fantastic combination! 
  2. Table Display in Worship.  Our treasurer, Pat, arranged a fun visual display of our tithes and offerings at work.  I suggested my salary might be represented by a Barbie and he took my suggestion!  I loved this.
  3. "Katie won't let you fly under the radar."  Said by Pat in worship.  They know me!
  4. Elizabeth Bennett?  My sermon was about beginnings and endings so I started by sharing famous first lines.  The congregation correctly identified Dickens, Melville, and Genesis 1:1, but took a minute on this one:  "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."  "It's one of my favorites!" I said.  "Must be an Austen" they said.  Indeed.  
  5. Baptist Women's Day Rehearsal.  Next Sunday we recognize Baptist Women's Day.  Following worship our ladies rehearsed 'Great is Thy Faithfulness'.  They sang with gusto.  It was great.
  6. Visiting Katherine's house.  Katherine, one of dear seniors, passed away in October.  Her daughter and son-in-law invited me to Katherine's home yesterday.  "You won't believe this," Dorothy said and then showed me to her mama's wood stove.  Inside logs were neatly stacked with crumpled newspaper nestled in every nook and cranny.  95 year-old Katherine was ready for the first snow!  She carried those logs in herself. Katherine was a fabulous, fierce force of a lady!
  7. Party.  One of our families invited me to their son's graduation celebration.  It was atop a mountain with breathtaking views. Tasty BBQ was also involved!  
  8. Handbellz Rehearsal.  We focused on theory, listened to Chopin, and learned about the Circle of Fifths.  It was awesome.  Our director is well-versed in all things music.
  9. 2nd Sunday Fellowship.  Our Discipleship Team kicked off its new '2nd Sunday Fellowship' where all ages and stages eat, play, and learn together.  Bluegrass music and fellowship filled the air. What a great evening!
  10. 2nd Sunday Fellowship Part Two.  I had no responsibilities at this gathering!  Pastors love when this happens, and it's not because we relish being lazy.  On the contrary--it's hard for most of us to keep our mouths shut!  Pastors are happy because healthy churches have invested and involved laity who are eager to move the mission forward.  Way to go Discipleship Team!
  11. Conversations. I talked with congregants of all ages about everything and nothing--about baptism and profession of faith, Disney World, camping, worries, excitement, and family members. I even got to "converse" with our littlest ones who freely toddle into my office.  I hope they always feel welcome to come and talk with me.  
Yesterday was a gift.  I'm grateful to celebrate Eleven on Eleven with Scottsville Baptist Church.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Proverbs 119 or Why You Should Come to Sunday School

Last week I asked our Sunday School class if they knew what was special about Proverbs 119. Most folks seemed hesitant to reply. "Great!" I thought, smiling. "I'll get to drop some sweet knowledge on the class."

"It's the longest chapter in the Bible!!" I proclaimed...except that it's not. It really, really isn't. Proverbs has a grand total of 31 chapters.

I wasn't even in the ballpark, and while I'd love to say I simply misspoke...that would be a lie. I didn't figure out I was wrong until I tried looking up Proverbs 117 (or, according to ME ONLY, the shortest chapter in the Bible).

Just a friendly reminder: If you're afraid to come to Sunday School because you don't know everything about the Bible, remember that your pastor thought Proverbs has 119 chapters.

We're all learners.

The point of Sunday School is not to see who knows the most Bible trivia! Sunday School is about studying, learning, and growing alongside other Christians as we read the Bible together. Sunday School is about building community with fellow believers (what the Bible calls 'koinonia'). Please don't let Sunday School intimidate you! We want you to be part.

Join us in Sunday School! We'll learn together.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

We're having a foot washing?

On Sunday I told the congregation we will be observing Maundy Thursday with a meal and foot washing.  Foot washing will be a new-to-us element in worship, so the initial response was the sound of crickets.   

During Sunday School there were questions.  "Does Scottsville have a pedicure place?  Will we wash feet and THEN eat or the other way around?"  We laughed and made some bunion jokes.  

It's all good.  

So why are we having a foot washing?

First:  I understand your hesitance.  Almost no one likes their own feet. Many of us have a hard time even wearing sandals!  Since a foot washing allows someone to not only smell our feet, but also see our tootsies up closeit's a tough pill to swallow.

I get it.   Before my first foot washing I painted my toenails and scrubbed my feet as if they were auditioning for a podiatry commercial. I was prepared.  

The disciples, however, had no warning.  There was no time for a pedicure, and too bad because their feet were probably caked with mud, excrement, bacteria, and more.  Those were the feet Jesus knelt down to wash during supper.

The disciples were in need of a physical foot washing, but even more soa spiritual washing.  A foot washing reminds us Jesus cleanses us of our sin—from the “smallest” offense to the most egregious of errors. We, like the disciples, are cleansed by Jesus. 

And as hard as it is for us to bare our soles to Jesus, it is much harder to bare our souls to we keep the smelliest parts of us hidden and hope no one notices the stench.  In so doing, we miss out on the joy of forgiveness because we can't bear to be vulnerable...  

which brings me to one of the reasons we're washing feet this Maundy Thursday.  I am naive enough to think it may aid us in confessing our sinsthat the act of being vulnerable with one another will aid us in being vulnerable to Jesus.  

It's worth the price of discomfort.

Another reason:  This tangible act is a clarion call to service.  Jesus washed all the disciples' feeteven Judas' feet.  There is no task beneath the disciple.

Maundy Thursday is an opportunity to remember John 13 together.  It is also an opportunity to experience hospitality, love, and forgiveness.  I challenge you, brothers and sisters, to consider joining us for this special worship service. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

You're Normal, Pastor!

During Lent our congregation joins with the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians for worship and a simple meal on Tuesday nights. Last night was our night to host, so it was my turn to preach.

On Sunday I preached on forgiveness; however by Monday I was picking at an old wound again.  I confessed as much during my Lenten sermon and one of our deacons piped up "You're normal!"

This made me smile--not because I'm proud of my sin--but because he recognized I struggle just like everyone else.

Part of helping one another grow as Jesus' disciples is saying "me too" to one another.  It reminds us we're not alone--not even the pastor.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Meaningful Morning

After talking with the deacons and staff, I decided to try something new this year:  A Drop-In Imposition of Ashes and Blessing.  Since our congregants are of various religious backgrounds, two wise church members told me to talk about the 'what' and 'why' of Ash Wednesday so I spent some time Sunday explaining its importance.

I decided "in for a penny, in for a pound" so the hours were 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. this morning and later today I'll be at the Methodist Church with Pastor Bruce from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

At 6:30 a.m. the first congregant arrived--a farmer on his way to work. Then came children, seniors, toddlers and mamas, middle-aged adults, long-time church members, and just-joined-on-Sunday folks.

I can't believe how many parents brought their children.  What a gift!  I hadn't imagined how life-giving it would be to talk about forgiveness with 8-year olds or how sweet it would be to repeat aloud words of the season with toddlers:  Cross (CROSS!), Lent (LENT!), Easter (EASTER!).

I hadn't imagined how meaningful it would be to pray with each person, or to read together the good news of God's compassion and forgiveness of our sins (Psalm 103).  What a gift.

Truly the pastorate is such a privilege.