My passion is helping people connect the gospel to everyday events. I post sermons, reflections, and movie reviews here to invite further discussion.
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Popsicles Are a Means of Grace
Last Saturday night was going to be an amazing evening. Months ago, Janet Hayes and I reserved the Splash at Fairview Park as a Back to School event for families in Sherman. This would be a free event, a gift to bless the kids of our community. I created an event page on Facebook. This was just meant to communicate that it was happening. It was not a paid advertisement. Surprisingly, 349 people said they would attend (the place only holds 400!), and 1,500 people indicated they were interested. 1500! About three hours before the event was to begin, thunder rolled and lightning crashed. Eventually the City of Sherman closed the water park and the event was cancelled.
I was not in a great mood for several hours. This was the kind of gift I had dreamed of the church offering the community. As I posted the news on Facebook, people said things like, "Thank you and bless you. This was a great idea." I hope we do something like this again next summer.
On Monday of this week, a dozen or so Grace folk showed up at Wakefield Elementary to hand out popsicles to the kids and their families as they met their teachers. It was great to see many of them leaving the school with brightly colored tubes of (mostly) frozen liquid.
Our expectations in offering these gifts were only to share the love of Christ. These families may never worship at Grace. But they received some sense of God's love this week.I am proud to be part of a church that has a heart for its community. Thank you to everyone who showed up, but also the many who contribute financial gifts to Grace. Your generosity helps us to live out what we believe.
Let's keep thinking of new, creative, un-churchy ways to bless people outside of our walls!
Note: this sermon was shared at the funeral for John Oestmann today. I offer it here for those unable to attend the service, but also for anyone who has struggled with an untimely loss of a loved one. I first met
John Oestmann when I became the pastor at Prosper United Methodist eight years
ago. And did this guy make an impression! It isn’t often that I am made to feel
small around others—but John was a giant in every way you can imagine. People
always say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, that was never truer than
when one considers our husband, father, brother, son, and friend, John. Many of
us might have crossed the street when we saw this large, tattooed, sometimes
Mohawked man approaching us. And if we did cross that road, we would miss out
on knowing one of the best, most genuine, most dependable men we would ever
meet. But the lasting impression John gave had little to do with his appearance
and everything to do with the way he lived his life. One of my favorite lines
Note: I offered these words during the prayer section of worship Sunday, December 16.
Last Friday was a day full of surprising ministry. After I wrote my usual Friday email devotion to the church, I received a call from Byron Proutt, our missions coordinator. He and others had recently partnered with Park Cities Presbyterian on a project, and their missions director called Byron to say another ministry was unable to pick up several boxes of food for their pantry—could we use it? Of course we could! So Pastor Gregg, Mr Johnny, and I rolled out to the warehouse and hauled back 80 boxes of food. Praise God! After we unloaded it Gregg and I went to Kroger to give them a letter of appreciation for making our Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families a priority. After I dropped Gregg off at home, I turned on my radio for the first time that day and heard the reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. I could not believe what I heard, especially as a father of young children.
This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding.
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…