After the first of the year, a lot of our seasonal worshipers arrive in town, making the first few Sundays of Epiphany a reunion of sorts.
One particular gentleman, usually with his wife, was sitting alone. She was either sick that week or couldn’t attend for some other reason. A few minutes before the worship service began I went over and said, “Hi, great to see you back!” Just a simple greeting and handshake.
The following week he was back, this time with his wife. After worship he came over and said to me, “Thank you for coming over to say, ‘Hi’ last week. I really needed that.” I must have looked puzzled, so he continued, “I don’t like to sit alone and it just meant a lot that you came over. Thanks.”
From this I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of a simple greeting. I also learned a long time ago that there is great blessing in remembering someone’s name when they return the next week or the next year.
A couple of weeks ago I got together some craft supplies for the Sunday School classes. One project called for some gold foil-wrapped chocolates, part of the Epiphany lesson about the magi who bought their gifts to worship the king of Jews.
I couldn’t find an Hanukkah gelt, but Hershey’s nuggets looked just like little gold bars. Perfect! I got a bag, split them up, and left them in the classrooms two weeks before they would be needed.
I neglected to warn the teachers that these were craft supplies, not merely treats. One teacher came up to me and confessed, “I just looked at my lesson for this Sunday and now I know why there was candy in my room! Unfortunately, we ate it all.” Just hours later a text came from the other teacher: “Umm…got any more candy? We ate it all last week!”
I laughed right out loud. I would have done the same thing!
It’s that time of the year again: recommendation time. As some of our high school students apply for college admission and scholarships, I often get the request, “Pastor, I need a recommendation.”
This has turned out to be one of my favorite things to do for our high school members. In my most recent batch, I’ve known the students for many years, have taught them, traveled with them, served with them, and verbally sparred with them. In so many ways I have grown up with them and they with me. The process of writing a letter to an admissions department or scholarship committee is a time for me to reflect upon their accomplishments and potential, and celebrate God’s faithfulness in their lives.
No, I didn’t actually send the letter pictured here. But I sure wanted to. Why can’t we just cut to the chase?
“So, how’s the church doing?”
That’s a hard question to answer. Maybe the hardest.
That question comes up often at this time of the year, because many of our seasonal visitors are here to escape the harsh winters of the north in the pleasant climate of Florida. Their question is sincere, they care about the church where they worship while away from home and they are part of our church family. Continue reading