25 March 2011

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

Every week on Wednesday and Thursday morning at 9:30 we have chapel for our PUMP kids.  Ask any kid who has been in PUMP over the past four years to sing Deep and Wide-- but hold on to something first! Chapel is always fun for me because every week I see a dozen or more kids I baptized over the years and I reflect on how much they have grown!  After singing a few "chapel songs" I read them a Bible story.  Yesterday I held up the picture Bible which showed a man sitting in a tree.  "What is his name?" I asked, wondering if anyone knew.  "ZACCHAEUS!" someone shouted from the back row (Ms. Bev's class).  It was Carter Wilburn (The Wilburns joined PUMC last year).  I was so excited I immediately sent his parents messages on Facebook, saying he deserved a gold star.

I am always proud to see and hear PUMC kids learning the stories of Jesus and growing in their faith.  Recently Rebecca Hunter, who teaches our 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school class, posted some pictures her kids created of Jesus' miracles.  Last Sunday they wrote out the stories that go with their picture.  I moved them from their original place to the bulletin board outside my office.  Check them out Sunday!  As Rebecca said, "We have some bright children in our church."  Absolutely!  Aren't you proud of that?

I have always celebrated the outstanding children's ministries at PUMC, from PUMP to Children's choir to nursery to Wednesday nights to VBS to Sunday school to KidZone.  It's especially gratifying for me not just professionally as a pastor but also personally as a dad.  Last Monday night Hila Cartwright and Michelle Chumley, co-directors of VBS held their first info meeting and nearly 20 people showed up, many of whom were new to the church.  We have dedicated adults who love Jesus and children and serve in a variety of ways.  We are thankful for all of you!

Sometimes ministry can be frustrating because we often do not see the fruits of our labor.  But every now and then a kids shouts from the back pew, a child draws a picture and tells a story, attends Camp Bridgeport, has a great week at VBS, or randomly sings a song or remembers a Bible verse.  Those little moments make everything worthwhile!

In Jesus' day not much value was placed on children outside of the home.  But Jesus regarded children with a high priority: "Let them come to me; do not hinder them" (Matthew 19:14).  I am proud and thankful to be a part of a community of faith that celebrates and loves children and never hinders their growth. This Sunday do not hinder your children-- bring them to church to learn the stories of Jesus.  I look forward to seeing your family here!

18 March 2011

A Sunday with a Twist

Last Sunday was an interesting morning at the Drenner home!  During the afternoon Saturday I started to feel a little feverish and achy.  Wanting to wake up well rested, I dropped a couple of Nyquil.  When I woke up at 6:00, I went to the shower, began to feel lightheaded, and fainted.  Christy called 911 and the paramedics came to the house.  By the time they arrived, I felt fine, though groggy.  They thought it best for me to go to the hospital to do some tests as a precaution, despite my numerous objections.  And there was no convincing Christy that I was OK.  So I went.  And it turns out it was just a fluke-- all the tests came back normal and I was home by 10:30. Then I slept until 2:00!

I appreciate so very much the numerous emails, Facebook messages, visits, and offers of meals we received during the illness.  Thanks to everyone for your prayers and concern.  I have been very excited to hear the excellent feedback on Joanne and Tyrell's handling of the services on Sunday.  I know they appreciate your support and encouragement. I was not surprised by this, having the chance to work closely with them every week.  I know of their talent, character, and ability (kudos to our Staff/Parish team, who prayed for and interviewed candidates for months to find the right fits for PUMC).  I am also grateful for Andy, Hila, and Jack Cartwright who came to the house to watch the boys so Christy could go to the hospital.

So the new sermon series we were to begin last Sunday will start this week, reduced from five to four parts.  We'll study the story of the life of one of the great Hebrew prophets, Jeremiah.  His is a long, complicated story to say the least! The first part of the story is especially relevant.  Unlike other prophets who had an experience of calling (Moses at the bush, Isaiah in the Temple, Saul/Paul walking to Damascus), Jeremiah understood God's call on his life literally from his conception.  One could say he could not conceive of his life without God's call upon it.

As we journey through the Season of Lent together, listen for the comforting, challenging, turning your world upside down call of God on your life.  Sometimes we fall away blinded, remove our shoes because of the holiness of the moment, or try to convince God to interrupt someone else's life.  The good, frightening news: God never gives up.  Saying yes to God always leads us to surprising place every time (even an ambulance ride to the emergency room on a Sunday morning!).  And more good news: as a part of a faithful community like PUMC, we belong to one another and step into the gap for each other.  

God says to Jeremiah (and to each one of us): "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (1:5).  Our lives belong to God.  When we are well, when we are sick.  When it's Sunday morning and any other time.  When we think we are alone but are really surrounded.  When we think we are weak, but are strong.  When we feel inadequate but are loved beyond what we could ever know.  You are called.  I am called.  We are called.