The Rain Came Down, Did His People Persevere?

It is 5 AM, and it is Palm Sunday.  The only thing I hear is rain – a torrential downpour.  This is the beginning of Holy Week.  Earl is already in the shower, and I have to swing my feet off the bed and get down to the kitchen to get his breakfast cooking.  It’s part of my ministry, and I’m happy to do it.  I persevere to make sure that the work that the Lord has given me gets done.  But it’s raining, and it feels like sleeping weather.  My feet still hit the floor, and I get started.

I have to study a little more.  I’m teaching the Sunday school lesson.  I worked on it yesterday, but I’m not feeling confident with what I’ve got.  Yet I must persevere, I can’t present what God does not intend.  Clean up the kitchen, sit down and study.  I look out my window to see lightning, and I hear the resulting thunder.

Shower, dress, but no, the dog will not go out in this rain.  Can she cross her paws for the next 5 hours?  I open the door, it’s raining so hard that there is a fog-like consistency in the air.  The dog backs away.  A thought  runs through my head, will God’s people persevere and come to chuch today?  It’s raining so hard.

I realize that I can’t go through the newly created pond at the bottom of my entry stairs in my shoes.  I quickly change into my Duck shoes, throw the high heels in a bag and grab the umbrella.  Will the umbrella actually open?  Oh please Lord, let the umbrella open.  It does.  Thank you Lord!

As I drive through the streets, the meer couple of miles to the church, God begins to speak to me in my mind.  I’ve learned to listen.  Today it is not His quiet voice, but a strong voice that tells me to tell His people to persevere.  Dear Lord, will your people come to hear?  So here is what He told me in my thoughts.

Spring Blooms

Spring Blooms

I give you the rain.  You receive the fresh aroma of Spring.  I nourish the ground for all My nature to grow.  My gifts to you include the beautiful gardens, flowers and trees – lawns so lush – vegetation so green.  My water helps to provide all that for you.  You have water to drink and shower and clean.  My gifts to you.  I give you My Word so the pastor can speak.  He’s been provided with a sermon to nourish My people – to offer their worship – lift up their voices.

God is good.  He gives many good gifts.  Let us not use those gifts as excuses not to come and worship.  I was pleased to see all those whose worship of God meant more to them than the possibility of enduring the rain and getting a little wet. His people do persevere.

Our pastor, our music department, our staff, our ushers, Sunday School teachers – as well as all those who prepare the coffee and refreshments – all worked really hard to be sure that the ministries that God entrusted to them were carried out.  They persevered through the rain.  And we were all blessed this rainy, stormy, Palm Sunday, 2013.

“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” 1 Thessalonisan 1:4

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Pick Up the Cross He Gave You!

Self-examination is always a good thing. Perhaps if we did it a little more often, we would find that the ministry God has called us to do and the cross that He has asked us to take up, aren’t as burdensome upon us as we sometimes feel.

            I was teaching a Sunday school class years ago, when I came across an analogy that helped me see the gifts that God has blessed me with and how to reflect on those gifts and use them for His Kingdom.

             When you were a child or teenager, what attracted your eye and put a smile on your face? Imagine you are walking down a sidewalk (in my case it was more like a cow path) and something off the beaten path catches your eye – a baby in a stroller, ducks on a pond, colored balloons rising into the sky, a dog and a Frisbee, or perhaps an elderly person sitting on a park bench.  What caught my eyes as a child were things like a cotton candy machine at a fair with all that pink fluff whooshing in the hot air bowl.  The bright colors drew me away from the gray cow paths on the farm in which I spent so much time.  I still love cotton candy and bright candies in all the colors of the rainbow.   So what is it that draws you away from the gray sidewalk and causes you to see bright, vibrant color? 

 

As we walk down the path of life, and all the wonderful things we are drawn to and enjoy get stashed away in our memories, do we tend to forget about all the wonderful color that still surrounds us or do we only remember it only in fond childhood visions of the past?  Perhaps we’ve had to make many dull choices along our path in order to make it in this life.  And we realize our lives just aren’t very colorful.  Are we now doing things that just don’t put a spark or twinkle in our eye?

            When Earl and I first were married, we took a call within 2 months of getting married and moved from Virginia to Georgia.  I was unclear in what was expected of the pastor’s wife.  And one day, a few months into the ministry, I looked at Earl and said, “I’m not doing anything; what am I supposed to do?”  In his usual kind way, he looked gently down at me and said, “Honey don’t worry about it, the women will start asking you to do things soon and then you’ll have plenty to do.”  I harrumphed to him.  But marking his words, that is exactly what happened.  Yet over the course of time, I would end up doing things that I genuinely didn’t like doing.  Eventually I found that the thing I truly liked doing was to invite over and feed the people of our church.  But I only discovered this because I started doing just about everything they expected me to do.

            For many years, I invited our entire congregation for an annual Christmas lunch after the choir cantata on a Sunday in December.  I would fix all the food the day before and Earl would set up the tables and chairs and help, and we would warmly welcome those 250+ friends in line as they came through our house.  It was so much fun.  We would invite Earl’s staff and their spouses every year at Christmas time so that we could show our gratitude for the service that they done throughout the year.  We would clear out the living room, set up tables in front of the fireplace, adorned with decorations, and serve them 5-course meals.  And we would enjoy each other’s company and get to know one another a little better.

            The ministry that God has asked me to do is with the flock that my husband has been given the privilege of serving. God uses the gifts that He has given me to give me joy and to bring color into the path of my life.

1 Corinthians 12:1, 4 &11 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.” – “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” – “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

Walking Down the Aisle to Serve…

Galatians 5:13
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

When Earl and I got married, I did very little of the planning. Truth be told, I did NONE of the planning. I did manage a week before our wedding, to take my good friend Bev and go look for a dress for my big day! Now, I am a very organized and detail oriented person. So looking back, it’s very hard for me to understand how I could have let this big day just happen.

Earl planned everything from the flowers to the music, the cake, and also the car that whisked us away after the ceremony. I got myself into my dress and waited for my queue to walk down the aisle with this handsome man on my arm. Our wedding was a full worship service with hymns, liturgies and a sermon. We spent the sermon portion of the service looking down from the church choir balcony listening to every word and in total awe of the over 300 guests present. We then took our moment to walk down the aisle together to say our vows. After saying “I do” and being presented as man and wife, we came back down the aisle to an instrumental piece that Earl had written, played on the organ…..it was magical! I still to this day, wake up to that beautiful piece of music entitled, “The Proclaimed Word” as it plays as our alarm each morning.

Why am I reminiscing about my wedding day so long ago when I’m talking to my fellow pastor wives? Well, let me just say that, every Sunday morning, I relive that beautiful day of saying “I do”.

Years ago, when I realized that God’s appointed ministry in my life was to minister to my pastor husband, I understood that Earl needed assistance after a worship service concluded. I let you know in my blog entitled, “A Rare Sunday in the Pew…”, that I walk around pre-service to meet and greet congregants and visitors. Well, an extension of that ministry evolved when I understood that Earl was being given numerous prayer requests and concerns as people left the church after a service. In the receiving line, Earl couldn’t greet everyone and at the same time write down prayer concerns I found that by sitting in the front of the church, usually 3rd or 4th pew, I could actually see the service better, but I could also take the opportunity to walk back down the aisle with Earl as he went to the doors to greet attendee’s. Each Sunday, I walk down that aisle with Earl and feel a renewal of our vows, to have and to hold, in good times and in bad, for better or worse.

I stand at the doors with him, hand him gum or a mint in order to relieve him of any dryness of mouth from speaking, and I offer him another ear. Some congregants hesitate to burden their pastor with their request feeling that the pastor has too much to do already. I am someone they feel they can inform and they know I will get it to Earl. I write down the requests, and he is free to continue to greet everyone.

I am right here beside him, being his helpmate and right here for HIM, in HIS service..to this day I say, “I do”…….

A Rare Sunday in the Pew…..

As ALL pastors’ wives know, we are almost always lone pew sitters.  While other couples snuggle up, get comfortable, whisper their thoughts together during a worship service, we pastor wives’ sit alone.

Today was one of those rare Sundays where my husband Earl was not behind the pulpit, but right next to me on the pew.  Not our James Island Presbyterian pew, but it happened to be a Baptist pew…  We had a Sunday off and went to worship together.

But upon entering the sanctuary, we were not greeted by any greeter or ushered to a seat by a church usher.  We found our own bulletin, located the restrooms prior to service and then seated ourselves.  There were people in the sanctuary talking amongst themselves, couples and groups, and though we were noticed as visitors, we only had one person introduce himself to us.

One gentleman strolled up from the front of the church to shake hands and say welcome and then off he went to chat with someone that he knew.  Next, Earl got up to ask someone who was preaching (it was not listed in the bulletin), and while he was gone, a woman walked past me, I caught her eye, and she was compelled to do one of those little waves and “Hi, how are you doing?” I am not sure she heard my answer because she walked away and wasn’t close enough to have heard my response.

Once Earl and I were back together, not one other person approached us for the next 15 minutes while we waited for the service to begin.  We both felt a bit unwelcomed.

Upon reflection, I of course, had to think about our church.  Is this the way our guests feel at times?  Earl and I both try to take time before both services to welcome and to greet not only our longtime congregants, but also all those visitors who walk through our doors.  Pastors do not normally have a lot of time before a service to walk out and talk to the parishioners, they are mentally preparing and praying to hear and deliver God’s Holy Word. But they and their people all need to take the time.  I see our members walking around and talking to others every Sunday.  And I am glad.

But how does that happen?  

First, I believe that the pastor’s wife needs to take the lead and get out in the congregation and talk to people.  Not only should she welcome them, but be sure to ask about their lives.  If you know something about the person, ask about something in particular.  If not, ask what they did that week.  This gives the pastor’s wife the ability to find things out that perhaps her husband/pastor is not yet aware of.  She can fill him in and he can then be sure to contact with that individual later on that day or week.

This is also the perfect time to approach someone who is visiting for the very first time and offering him or her a name and contact person (yourself) if she/he has any questions or need to talk.  It would also help to even invite a lone person to sit with you, so he or she doesn’t feel alone in a new church environment.

But this is just me.  I am but one person.  Yet as the pastor’s wife maybe taking the lead in this, it might encourage other members to be a little more hospitable, warm, and welcoming.  Not only may there be more greeting members, but by your actions, you will be reflecting Christ to those around you and they WILL begin to follow your lead.

Hebrews 13:1-2: “Let love of the brethren continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

God’s peace and understanding,

Laura

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