Yesterday I bumped into Betty (the town dog groomer and member of our church) at the HEB grocery store. She goes by Honey so I called out “Hi Honey!” quietly…well, not really quietly but actually with some enthusiasm. I hugged her and she was so startled she shoved a 20-pound bag of dog food into my chest and said, “Make yourself useful!” People started watching us to see what was going to happen next.I asked her if she was going to be at church today. She said, “Why yes! My grandkids would not let me miss. Katie (age 5), asked what day it is. I told her ‘Tomorrow is Church Day’. She said, ‘Yeah!’ Katie loves to go to church. That is great, isn’t it?”
Yes, it is. We gather here in the Joy of the Lord to celebrate His Goodness in our lives this past week.
A commander from Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Phil Garrant, wrote me this morning and said, “We had a chaplain from Tennessee preach this morning in chapel. He preached on the three Amigoes – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – and spiritual power. I felt like I was back at Hanscom Chapel in Boston with you. His style reminded me so much of yours…weaving Scripture, everyday life, and stories of friends and family into his message. It was a joy to be at church today and thinking of your family made it even better!
It is a joy to have Pam’s niece Raquel Franks here this morning in worship with us to read the Scriptures and to share communion with us. Raquel just transferred to Texas State University here in town and lives in the dorms. Yes, she will be treated to lunch after church! You know…sing, talk, take communion, go eat lunch. That is church.
I called her yesterday to see if she had any questions about the Scripture reading. She said her mom would always say that…”when two or three are gathered together there am I in the midst of them.” Yep, moms and dads will do that sort of thing. Drill scriptures into your heads to remind you of things. Now she knows where her mom got that saying from in the scriptures which she just read to you. We are gathered together and the Lord is in our midst.
AWANA Bible Study for our youth starts back up this coming Wednesday. AWANA stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed. Janice had this dream a few years ago of starting an AWANA group for our youth and she has done such a wonderful job of pulling this ministry together for our youth.
3 Things I am Looking forward to in AWANA this year.
One, it is fun to gather in a clean building. This month has been clean-up month in our church, as you know. In my mom’s world growing up, cleanliness was next to godliness. If you wanted to meet your Maker early in mom’s house, just leave the place a mess and she could arrange a meeting between you and God.
Kenny has spent 24 hours this month helping to clean this building. He has cleaned the chandelier; he has scrubbed over 350 chairs scraped gum off of over 45 tables. He has power washed the outside of the building, the driveway and patio area.
Rusti, Joe, Courtney, Colton, and Mark spent last Monday – Labor Day – laboring up here at the church all day cleaning the interior walls, repairing holes, and then completely repainting the interior. Isn’t it beautiful? They could not finish it in one day so they have been up here every lunch break and in the evenings this week to get it ready for you this morning. Please thank them for preparing such a beautiful place for you to worship and for AWANA to meet.
Two, I love watching how many people get together to make one wonderful event like AWANA happen. I always loved baseball in part because it was so much fun to get on the field with 8 other players on the field and the players and coaches on the bench and work together for one common cause…to play together as a team. I hate playing golf alone. Life is only fun for me when life is lived with others. It is so much fun for me to watch a team of people make AWANA happen for our youth.
24 Adults – yes 24! — are working together directly this fall to make AWANA happen in the lives of our youth. Please stand when I mention your name, you AWANA workers. Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed.
Janice (Director and teacher), Rusti (Music), Joe (teacher and games), Betty and Mona (teachers), Molina (meal set-up and take down), Bobette (meal coordinator and set-up and take-down), and meal providers this fall – Pam (I will cook for her), Lisa Dennis, New Steve Jones, Gaye and Bert, Carla and Randy, Brenda, Sharon, Mark, Machel, Barbara and Mickey, David, Chi, myself, and Don.
What a line-up to put on the field to teach our youth about Love, the Lord, honesty, faith, Hope, Joy, Peace, Generosity, patience, Purpose, Joy, Sharing, Compassion, manners, dignity, fun, togetherness, and forgiveness. By teaching and modeling these things we do beat the team that is trying to teach the opposite to our children.
It is a high stakes activity, this ministry with children is.
Thirdly, I dread the same old chocolate desserts that Janice brings every Wednesday to AWANA.
Janice, here is your own Blissful Brownies cookbook from me to you. It is described as “Delicious and luxurious recipes for mouthwatering brownies.”
I inscribed these words inside the book — “To Janice whose chocolate treats make every CTRC event a spiritual event. Signed, Reverend Gary, September 7, 2008.”
Here is a bag of pecans from Alabama. Here is a bottle of vanilla from Mexico.
This Rainbow painting has hung in every office of mine since 1995. Daniel painted this Rainbow painting and gave it to me when he was in kindergarten 13 years ago. Isn’t it beautiful? Brilliant and correct colors, nice shape, and beautiful to the eye. But what I really enjoy about it is this little spot of blue paint that he dripped accidentally on the bottom of this canvas. One little blue spot below this rainbow. I love the Blue Dot dripping. The colors and the rainbow are spectacular to look at but so is the little drop at the bottom. Each of us is like the dot. Could be looked at as simply a mistake but I like to look at it as a part of the art. We each are just a little dot in life but when we are on the painting canvas with all the other colors and color arrangements, we are a special and important part of the painting called Life. I love the Blue Dot.
We are not a mistake. We are part of God’s Plan.
I can not wait until Wednesday evening to taste some brownies that Janice will surely make from this new cookbook to include the pecans and vanilla.
Take these and go home and start cooking. We all can not wait until Wednesday now!
By GARY L. SMITH
Reverend – Christ the Redeemer Church