Where ‘ya Headed?

video worship 2“Where are you headed?” I asked one of the moms yesterday who was asking about early pick-up from SOAR day camp. “The beach- it’s just that time of year,” she said with a smile.

It is indeed that time of year!  Lots of our friends and church family are in town and then out. Some are out of town and then in. Others are just in town, or just out of town for the whole season long. Those who travel are visiting family, friends, the beach, the mountains. Some are off to exotic locales I can only dream of. Some go together and some travel alone- A large group of our elementary schoolers and our own Director of Christian Education are all at Camp Buc this week.

video worshipOur church has tried to accommodate the many travelers as well as continue to offer mission and ministries for those who remain home. The church website allows remote access to news and the church calendar, though they are still mailed to your home. The summer book study group is meeting in person and on Facebook. Our worship services, of course, continue. They are also streamed live and recorded and saved so that you can worship with First Pres whenever and wherever you like.

Whether we remain literally plugged in at our specific church or not, our Lord travels with us wherever we go. Our God guards and guides us. Jesus knew traveling well, as did his (and our) ancestors in the faith.  Psalm 121 is often called the travelers hymn, and I encourage you to spend some time with it this summer. Millennia ago, it was sung by pilgrims as they walked the dangerous way to Jerusalem so that they could worship.

May we be as confident as those who have gone before us, and may we sing with them the truth of scripture: It is God who keeps our days, our nights, our travel, our lives.

Thanks be to God!

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Salt, Light and Seriously Cold Water

Last Sunday at worship, I reminded our church family that Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (read: Matthew 5:13-16). He doesn’t tell us that we need to do something to be salt or act in a certain way something that will make others see us as light. That said, because we are salt and light, our good works- done for the glory of God- are supposed to be seen, so that others may begin to know and praise our God.
Now, we all know what traditional good works look like: feeding the hungry, clothing and housing those in need, paying attention to the elderly, loving those who are hardest to love, getting doused with frigid water. Wait, what?!

[Bad News, I just tried to upload the silly video of me being doused, but it isn’t working.  I’ll try later!]

Many in our congregation have been called out in the “cold water challenge.” The premise is simple: allow yourself to be video taped while you jump into/are covered with cold water (for the amusement of others) and donate $10 to the charity of the one who challenged you. As you do this, you can challenge others. If you are unwilling to take the chilly challenge, you must donate $100 to your challenger’s charity and cannot challenge someone else.  It is silly and it doesn’t raise substantial funds, necessarily. But what the “cold water challenge” does, is allow you to be seen, doing something that is faithful and good, while not being seen as a braggart.
There are all sorts of ways of being salt and light. Here are the ones I saw this morning at worship:
1. Going on the middle school mission trip as an advisor, even though you’ve got no children in the program.
2. Buying breakfast for the homeless gentleman resting next door to the church.
3. Tirelessly decorating last week for Bible School (starts tomorrow), and coming back again this afternoon just to ‘check on a few more things.’
4. Walking with an older friend down the hall to make sure he won’t have a fall.
5. Being ever-so-patient with the little girl whose enthusiasm includes jumping all over you.
What are some of the more unusual ways you have seen people be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

Front and Center

I arrive late for the “Cardio-Chisel” class at the Anderson Area YMCA. This is only my second time for this challenging (for me) workout and, running late as I am, it does not occur to me what arriving, even one minute late, will mean.

That’s right. The only spot left in this fitness class is right up in front of everybody, close by the instructor, practically nose to nose with myself in the floor to ceiling mirror. Again, this is only my second time in this workout, and I do not have all the moves and motions down. My muscles have a mind of their own at times.

My lack of coordination is on display for the three dozen or so experienced and buff folks behind me. But the instructor, Tommy, makes a point of calling me out so I cannot sneak out. I am stuck up front.

So we warm up. I tried to keep an eye on Tommy’s instruction and lead, conscious of my own reflection and all those eyes behind me. Watching as I “grape-vine left” while everyone else grape-vines right, I am mortified to spot some misguided souls who appear to be following my mis-timed steps!

Front and center, I work to get back in step with our leader.

Followers of Jesus Christ may be dismayed on occasion to find themselves the focus of attention. Though our preference is the background, God may put us front and center.

Other folks, in and outside the Body of Christ, may watch what we do, what we say, how we conduct ourselves. If we take our eyes off the Lord, focus on ourselves too much, we will misstep, and worse, someone may follow our lead and get off track.

As it happens, in God’s good providence, my Scripture study this week has been focused on I Peter 5, a chapter directed toward pastors and church leaders. I Peter 5:3 admonishes us:

Do not lord it over those in your care, but be an example to them.

Even as we follow Jesus Christ, he may place us front and center, leading others, setting an example, even as we seek the way ourselves. When we find God has placed us front and center, do our words and deeds provide a good example for others to follow?

Just as with a fitness routine, Christian discipleship proceeds best when we keep our eyes on the leader.

As for Cardio-Chisel, I think I will make sure to get there early, grab a prime spot, and watch the leader from the back row.