The Sunday That Kept On Going

November 11th 2018 was a packed worship service.  There were so many things going on.

The service started with a touching tribute to our veterans.  The Deacons worked with the children to give cards and pins to our vets in a very nice, very moving inter-generational way.

But that was not enough.

A family stood up to proclaim their desire to have their baby baptized.  The children promised to help guide this child as she grew up in the church.  The adults again reclaimed their baptismal promises, to reject evil, to embrace Jesus, to support the church, and to be spiritual mentors to this child.  We then prayed over water, an ordinary substance transformed to something holy, and baptized her in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  As the choir sung a touching song, the baby went for a walk with the pastor around the room.  As every eye was upon her, she was looking to the ceiling, perhaps at the angels in attendance, or the “Great cloud of witnesses”.  Baptism always makes me emotional because I can really feel God’s presence as God marks the child.

But that was not enough.

The worship leader read the Old Testament scripture and sat down.  I approached the pulpit and stood in silence as a Trustee rang the bell eleven times.  You see, it was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the one hundred year anniversary of the end of the first world war.

But that was not enough.

I preached an impassioned sermon on the Widow’s Mite and the Widow of Zarephath, calling out the fact that God sees our plight, God sees our situations, and God responds through people.  People like us.

But that was not enough.

We again have experienced a tragic shooting in our nation.  As pastor, I wrestled with my response, writing a second sermon, going back and forth between which sermon to preach, and finally deciding to make a special time of prayer.  I called the congregation to pray, and then to be the answer to prayer, because the church is the most effective and powerful force on the planet – when we work together with God.

But that was not enough.

You see, we still had the prayers of the people – that time when we lift up the needs of the congregation, community and world.  We prayed for people having surgery this week.  We prayed for a woman that nobody knows, but she needed prayer.  We prayed for loved ones who are sick, loved ones who are recovering and loved ones who are dying.  We prayed for victims of the California wild fires, and we prayed for the leaders of our nation.

By the benediction, I was completely drained.  Emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally drained.  And I’ll do it again next Sunday because worship is that important.

It is not every Sunday that we baptize someone.  But each Sunday we are called to remember our baptism and charged with living it.  It is not every Sunday that we honor our veterans, but each Sunday we are reminded to give thanks for their blessing.  It is not every Sunday that we ring the bell, but each Sunday we are called to gather to promote peace, justice and the forgiveness of sin.

And every Sunday we hear the gospel proclaimed.  Every Sunday we lift up people in prayer.  Every Sunday we experience the forgiveness of sin and the call to live as followers of Jesus.

If you really stop for a moment and think about it, every Sunday is packed with lots of life-giving things.  If you haven’t been to worship in awhile, this is a great time to return as we approach the Advent season.  We will explore the themes of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy and how we, the baptized, can embody those themes in our daily lives.

I hope to see you Sunday,



A Message to Men on All Saints Day

Men – who was most responsible for teaching you the faith?  For most men it began with a mother or grandmother, and then fell to that special woman who we marry.  For me, I had an aunt who taught me to serve the Lord by serving the church in many ways.  My grandmother taught me to love God.  Both my grandmother and my mother taught me to read scripture and pray.  Yes my dad had a hand, but it was the women.  Just like Timothy in the Bible (2 Timothy 1:5), “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”

Men, November 1st is All Saints Day a day set apart to remember those faithful in the Church Triumphant.  Let’s think about the women of our lives who taught us about God and God’s love.  Let’s give God a prayer of thanksgiving for those who have gone before us.  And then let’s remember the women still in our lives, honor them and pray for them as well.  After all, they are saints too.