June, July and August are great months for pastors to slow down, and take some extra Sabbath time. That was not the case for me this past summer with our new appointment and moving to the Claybanks community. As the summer progressed I realized that I needed to make some adjustments to my spiritual life in my semi-retirement. So I got out a book from my library and reread the book written by a close friend and a pastor that I admire greatly for her leadership, discipline, knowledge and who recently was elected a Bishop in our denomination. The book is Recess: Rediscovering Play and Purpose by Laurie Haller. Laurie is one of those people who always gets me to think beyond the words and pages in so many different areas even beyond what she is writing about. One of the things that she has gotten me to ponder on several occasions, both when she was a district superintendent and also when she writes a weekly blog, was how I can become a better disciple for Jesus Christ. As I ponder this and other things I come to one of the basic questions that a pastor will ask of themselves. One of the things I’ve spent some time thinking about late this summer is how to help people get to know Jesus Christ and grow in their faith. The gift of new life and love that Jesus offers us is amazing and unlike anything else we have ever known and I want everyone to experience God’s miraculous, saving, and transforming power. When the time is right and the Holy Spirit is moving, I want to make myself available to helping all people – adults, children and anyone within my reach. I want to help them choose to receive the treasure, “The gift of salvation for themselves”. Many years ago when I was doing my exploration to become a pastor I saw this as possibly one of the callings that I might have as a pastor. I am also convinced that this is our job as a church. We have a biblical mandate and missionary responsibilities to, “Go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the trans-formation of the world.” You see as United Methodists, we are called to make this a core part of our existence. It should be woven into our very DNA.
I know we ask ourselves how do we do this over and over again?!?! It’s one of the toughest questions we probably ask ourselves even to the point where we would say it’s a million-dollar question, but I think we already know the answer. Everything we do revolves around loving God, growing together, and serving others. This is our pathway to discipleship and we will continue talking about it during this fall and into the winter on a number of occasions. I have planned my messages for Sundays to seek an answer to the “million dollar” question.
• When we come together to worship and intentionally welcome first-time guests and lifelong members into the community of faith, we are loving God.
• When we give our prayers, presents, gifts, service, and witness day in and day out, we are loving God.
• When we host community activities in our church or on church grounds for our community, we are growing together.
• When we participate in small Bible Study groups during the year, during Advent or during Lent, we are growing spiritually.
• When our members volunteer to be a part of Family Promise or other local mission projects with hands on experiences, we serve God’s children.
• When we welcome and teach young people about Jesus, the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we share the, “Good News”.
Disciples are being made at Claybanks UMC because you and I are taking ownership and are working hard to reach new people and new places with the good news of Jesus Christ. Let us keep up the good work and learn how to take the next step. Thanks be to God for the ways in which the Holy Spirit is moving in the ministries and programs of Claybanks UMC, keeping it alive and well.
Sabbath time and recess are renewal times. I have found over many years now that we get much renewal, energy and excitement when we experience the power of the Holy Spirit in what we do for and with others in the name of Christ. May we continue to seek ways in which to make disciples for the transformation of the world in Jesus’ name!