Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
September 3, 2019
Labor Day was originally a much needed holiday for working people during the early industrial revolution and as a response to protests and unrest driven by inhumane working conditions, poor wages and child labor. The national holiday, signed into law June 28, 1894 by President Grover Cleveland, has lost some of that meaning. It has become the unofficial last day of Summer. Families have one last weekend to travel before schools begin and local outdoor swimming pools close. We celebrate with cookouts, barbeques and huge retail sales events. This was the first time I noticed the red, white and blue American Flags used in those sales. Surely they’d been there before, but it made me ponder the purpose of this holiday.
I enjoyed the rest and sabbath-tone of it for myself, but realized it was not a day of rest for some, especially those responding to the recent Odessa-Midland, Texas shooting or to those preparing for Hurricane Dorian. Our own Debbie Caffrey was on call and had to use a special weather “app” to handle numerous phone inquiries about the approaching tropical storm. Southern Baptist Men have deployed Disaster Relief Teams; BGAV/DR is poised for deployment too. As you’ve no doubt seen on weather channels, the National Guard, power companies (as far as from Illinois!) and Red Cross supplies are all staged and ready to go. This preparation does not mitigate our need to pray for all involved. The Aubrey Jones’ grandson, Travis is a policeman in Myrtle Beach. We have friends all up and down the coast and probably in Texas, so there are worried yet serving families within our own congregation! Pray.
Sunday’s lesson had us clean our Spiritual Mirrors; are we people who jostle for the head table or the prestigious place of honor? Perhaps. If we help others during this hurricane, do we expect something in return? I hope not! Yet today, an invitation for lunch or dinner creates an unspoken reciprocal understanding that you are to return the favor. That unfortunate interpretation misses the point of Jesus’ story in Luke 14:13. Ignoring reciprocity, he challenges them (and I, you) to invite the hard-to-love, the poor, disabled or blind to our table with God’s grace. Jesus changes the rules to love and compassion, not what society expects in return.
The spiritual lesson is that
ALL are invited to God’s table—rich or poor, upright or sinner, the unwashed
and the clean. When one has a banquet, a party, a church service or event, do
we only invite our family, friends or colleagues? That is the natural tendency.
Jesus does not guilt us into submission, but might question our
cloudy Spiritual Mirrors. Did you know that “hospitality” means “love of a
stranger?” Hebrews 13:2 tells us: “Do not forget to show hospitality to
strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without
knowing it.” Read the book or see the movie, “The Same Kind of Different as
Me,” to meet Denver Moore, a wise Godly homeless man.
August 27, 2019
I hope you are enjoying the temporary cooler temperatures this week that coincide with the start of school! Thank you for being vigilant while driving to protect the children and teens, while providing peace of mind for yourself, family and friends. We are praying diligently for our teachers, staff, bus drivers and students. Having Vacation Bible School last week reminded me of the high energy, intelligence, compassion and creativity of young people. Thank you to Reverend Turner and Pastor Ed Young for their leadership, and to Belinda and Barbara for their delicious meals beforehand! And, to the adult leaders of the age specific classes, we are grateful! More gratitude, details and photos will be coming from Reverend Turner in our next Vision.
I also hope that you’ve had some time to relax a bit this summer; we will be gearing up soon with church activities, so this is your last easy week! The Choir’s “Christmas in August” party, where we reconvene socially and reveal the Christmas Cantata, is this Saturday, August 31st at 1 pm. Please let Dot Jones or Debbie Caffrey know if you are coming. Fall Calendars are available in the church office, M-F, 9 am-1 pm with Student events, Women’s Bible Study, Choir Rehearsals and all Mission Center activities. Please keep all involved in prayer as well.
On Sunday, we read both Isaiah 58:9b-14 and Luke 13:10-17, which dealt again with transformation of people, places and things. My focus today, though, is on Sabbath. Isn’t it more Kingdom focused if we do the work of the Lord from a place of rest, renewed energy and power, rather than from the usual and widely accepted place of already-burned-out exhaustion? The prophet Isaiah specifically was speaking to the returning exiles who found Jerusalem devastated, as after an earthquake or hurricane. He was encouraging them to “repair the breach” (broken places) and “restore streets to live in”; they were still in shock and depressed. They had lost faith in God’s power to strengthen them to accomplish all things. He reminded them of the true purpose of a holy day of Sabbath to serve others, not themselves. As we face hurricane season, our Red Cross and BGAV Disaster Teams are mobilizing and preparing to serve. Another prayer item.
In Luke, the Pharisees tried to shame Jesus for healing a woman who had been ill for 18 years on the Sabbath (referring to the Levitical laws). “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Jesus released her, on the Sabbath, from being socially outcast as well as ill. As an honor/shame society, Jesus’ response to them humiliated the Pharisees for their lack of compassion. The Sabbath is also a time of serving. The painting is "Road Menders" by Vincent van Gogh, 1889. housed at the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.
August 20, 2019
I love this time of year! Yes, it is very hot, we need rain and the veggie harvest is almost over, so what’s to love? New starts! New beginnings. Fall is coming – crisp apples, pumpkins, colored leaves, cool temperatures, no humidity and schools begin! Don’t you remember how exciting it was to get new pencils, binders, fresh notebook paper, sharp crayons with all the paper on, new clothes or shoes, and maybe even a new lunch box? You can almost smell the wood, wax and glue! For some, it’s been awhile; but for me, no matter my age, at the end of August, I am transported right back to preparing for those first days of school!
Our students are collecting school supplies this year, so I went shopping. It was both annoying and fun - so many people! The aisles were full of parents filling up two carts; there were not enough cashiers to handle the crowds – so I got to practice my Christ-like patience on Saturday. For some of you who are teachers, it is time to re-organize your classrooms, put up new bulletin boards, make sure your students will have supplies and do lesson plans for the new students you’ll meet and inspire.
Congress takes off the whole month of August, not going back into session until September 9th. For some Churches, September is the beginning of a new church year. We are closing out our summer with a joint Vacation Bible School with the New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church students and parents that begins tonight. Also, this Sunday, we will pray for our students and teachers; most college students are already on campus, decorating dorm rooms, buying textbooks, supplies and getting to know new roommates.
It feels like a new start for me too; although I began as Senior Minister in February, my office has finally come together, thanks to summer office volunteers, Wendy and Lily, who helped me re-arrange my books. Finding my rhythm to fit the church’s calendar has taken a little time. Mondays I meet counting teams and Margarita with Sunday updates, while planning my week and the newsletter. Tuesdays now are Vision prep and production, but mid-September will become sermon research days. Wednesdays are staff meetings, office hours, pastoral care days and sermon prep. Thursdays will be Facilities and Mission Center focused. Fridays will be my regular day off. Saturday is part personal and part Sermon completion time. Sunday is Bible Study, Worship, monthly meetings and fellowship. Please know that as a minister, my calendar is flexible, based on congregants’ needs. New starts are exciting, but remember, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9 NLT).
August 13, 2019
As we discussed the Letter to the Hebrews this past Sunday, I asked you “What Is Your Legacy—Faith or ‘Stuff’?” Honoring one’s ancestors and receiving inheritances were important to Jewish culture; in Abraham’s case (Gen. 15; Heb. 11:8-12), legacy was about land, righteousness and faith. The Biblical definition of faith is: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).” He would never see his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky!
Legacy, something handed down from one generation to the next might be a financial or cultural inheritance, or a family tradition (Grandmother left her legacy of hospitality to her daughters in her china and cookbooks). A legacy might be left to an organization as a financial gift or a philosophical contribution that will transcend generations. Think about non-profit foundations like the United Baptist Foundation or the (Bill and Melinda) Gates Foundation. In these cases legacies serve a vision and mission for the world’s greater good.
Ponder what God would want your legacy to be: land, a healthy investment portfolio, a donation to the church, a big house, or your grandmother’s silver set. Or would he prefer a legacy of belief and trust in him? The Bible is a legacy of Scriptures inspired by God and lived out through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are grateful to have that legacy! Jesus, the Messiah, his healing miracles and parables teaching right from wrong are worthy legacies to leave behind. “Meeting History,” a poem by Tori Lane, 2013 Alexandria Poet Laureate, tells of the many feet, hearts and voices that grace Sanctuary carpets, pews, choir lofts and pulpits. This faith legacy carries us onward, even if the gifting people are unseen.
Legacy is not our “stuff” like candelabras stored in the closet; our legacy is not the banners hanging, but rather the hearts of those who created them and the messages they convey. As you clear out your own closets, first pray about the items found, think about their purpose and relevance, mend or repair if possible, reassign to proper locations, and if they are not a part of your legacy vision, respectfully re-purpose or give away to a worthy recipient. Items like photographs should be preserved for historical reference. Like the many books of our retired ministers, some hold a rich treasure of notes and others are so loved into disrepair that they must be recycled. In Luke 12:34, Jesus reminds his disciples not to fear and that God will provide; possessions may actually hinder our ministering to others. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Which treasure will you leave your loved ones, Faith or “Stuff”?