Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Embracing Being Older, Maturing in Years and Faith

Last Monday, I went to my hometown to attend the funeral of a long-time neighbor. Frances was the wife of my fire chief, and they were like grandparents to me. Before the funeral, I heard my Dad in the other room muttering phrases of disgust. So I walked in the room and asked, “Pop, what’s the matter?” “I need to sew a button back on a dress shirt. But I can’t thread the $%#& needle.” So I said no problem, I can take care of that.

Yeah, right… it took me 5 minutes just to thread the needle! I obviously need to up the prescription on my bifocals, because they were no help. In desperation, I finally did something I saw “older” people do: I took off my glasses. By gosh, it worked. And while I got the needle threaded and got Dad’s button sewed on, I wasn’t exactly in the celebratory mood. It upset my Dad too. “I used to be able to do that,” he said. I knew exactly where he was coming from with that statement.

Today I am getting paperwork straightened out to buy a car: not for me, nor for my wife – but for my daughter. It doesn’t bother me that she will be driving a car, because she’s fairly mature and responsible. It doesn’t bother me that “my little girl is growing up” – I rejoice in her growing up and approaching adulthood. What bothers me is that I am old enough to be buying a car for my child. I don’t think it is vanity as much as it is shock. It is dawning on me that there may be fewer days ahead than there are behind in my life.

Yet what was it that the prophet Joel said? 
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. - Joel 2:28-29
It seems that God is never finished with us, even when we think we are finished or finishing. So instead of lamenting over our getting older, we should probably be embracing it. It may be that we are like wine that just continues to get better as we mature and age. God uses us, teaches us, molds and makes us into the disciples and disciplers that He wants us to be.

Let’s count every birthday. Celebrate each year that God has granted us the gift of life. It is not a curse – it is a blessing, and we are a blessing to others.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Church Administrative and Program Restructuring

[Taken from Church Newsletter on 1-7-09]

Contrary to popular belief, a pastor doesn't "run" a church. If he or she does, it's isn't a church. The talents, gifts, abilities, and presence of an involved congregation is how a church best functions as part of God's Kingdom. We are disciples, and we are to make disciples. The pastor is a shepherd and a leader, but by no means "runs" things.

One of the things we realized a couple of years ago at RUMC was that the Church Council structure was really not serving the needs and ministry of our church very well. When the Church Council structure was envisioned several years by the denomination, it was an effort to consolidate meetings and committees to a smaller number – in essence it merged the Administrative Board and Council on Ministries into one entity. While fewer meetings took place and fewer folks had to be nominated to serve on committees, it unfortunately did something else: some things fell through the cracks, and some Church Council meetings lasted a long time.

So we have decided to go back to the original format: we will have an Administrative Board, which will deal primarily with decision-making; and a Council on Ministries, which will lead our church in visioning and implementing programming and discipleship. There will certainly be interaction between these two bodies, but it will be in final decision-making. This allows ideas to be birthed and discussed in their respective venues, so when we come together as one body we spend more time on refining a few things rather than be overwhelmed by all of them.

We will meet on Saturday, January 24th, in the church Sanctuary – starting at 9:30 AM. We will work until noon. This will be a meeting to talk about how we will function, what areas of church program need coverage, and who is responsible. Along with this, the church calendar will be presented which should further allow us be sure of our responsibilities and tasks.

This is a meeting open to EVERYONE. We need your ideas, we need your gifts, and we need your presence. So many things are going well at Reidland, and we not only need to keep these things going well, but be willing to expand our disciple making to include the marginally churched and the unchurched.

I hope to see you on the 24th. It will be a wonderful way to start the New Year.