A huge God Sighting occurred this morning at 8:30 AM. Gary Huff noticed his neighbor, Frank Smith, had a fence down from last weeks storm. Gary got on the phone and called his crew. Before long Bill, Mike and John were on the job. Supervisor on the job was a fellow named Jesus. He was all over the crew to get the job done. In less that 2 hours, the fence was up.
Now just to be clear, this was a temporary repair. The professional fence guy will on the job in about a week to build the final version of Frank's fence. And, Jesus will there overseeing the job!
The Good Friday Tenebrae service held on April 14th, was a deeply emotional journey into the re-telling of the agony that befell our Lord and Savior in the last days of His human life. Tenebrae, or darkness, gradually overtook the sanctuary as we traveled down the path that led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The sounds of the choir singing and the poignant messages spoken from God’s Word echoed in our hearts and minds as we recalled the great act of love and sacrifice that Jesus made willingly on our behalf. Hearts were heavy and tears fell as we witnessed the silent carriage of the Christ candle as it made its way flickering down the darkened aisle. But we knew this wasn’t how the story would end. Attendees exited the service in silence and sadness, but found comfort in the promise of salvation through our soon to be resurrected Savior. He is Risen, indeed!
On Wednesday April 12, 2017 over 150 members of our church participated in the Upper Room Footwashing and Communion service. Young and old alike took part in this meaningful event where we practiced humbling ourselves in servanthood through the act of symbolically washing each other’s feet as we have been instructed to do in John 13:1-17 (NLT). It was a blessing to witness God moving through His people as they carried out this simple, but powerful display of love for one another. The evening was concluded with a time of prayer and sharing in the sacrament of Holy Communion.
In Bible times, the dusty and dirty conditions of the region and the wearing of sandals necessitated foot-washing. Although the disciples most likely would have been happy to wash Jesus' feet, they could not conceive of washing each other's feet. This was because in the society of the time, foot-washing was reserved for the lowliest of menial servants. Peers did not wash one another's feet, except very rarely and as a mark of great love. Luke points out (22:24) that the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest among them, an attitude that precludes a willingness to stoop to wash feet. When Jesus moved to wash their feet (see also John 13:1-16), they were shocked. His actions serve also as symbolic of spiritual cleansing (vs. 6-9) and a model of Christian humility (vs. 12-17). By washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus taught the lesson of selfless service that was supremely exemplified by His death on the cross.
Mission trips are very important to me because they help me snap back to reality. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of everyday life and that can make us take the small things for granted. For example, having a roof over our head, having food in our stomach, etc. I saw the Lord at work while we served at the hunger project on our recent mission trip to Nashville last week. On one of our projects some of the students paired up and carried 50 pound bags to each table - there were 40 tables there. Then a majority of the group assembled boxes to transport the bags of food. It was a very humbling moment to see everyone in an assembly line working together as a team to put together as many boxes as possible. My heart was filled with compassion, for the families that are less fortunate, and also for the students. The fact they spent their time and money during Spring Break helping bag food for families that are less fortunate is truly compelling. This trip was full of laughter and joy, but most importantly, it was full of love. Love for our fellow brothers and sisters, and most importantly, love for Christ. It was an honor to serve and be the light of Christ for so many people. A great big thank you to our church for supporting Youth Ministry and giving us opportunities to serve like this.
Easter eggsplosion was a blast! We had 725 people attend and about 100 total serving with their families!! We had 5 egg hunts with about 2,000 eggs each!! The gym was filled with inflatable fun that the kids all enjoyed! We served some yummy snacks, visited with the Easter bunny for pics and had some amazing young people in our church face painting! The highlight this year was our Walk to Easter, where the kids visited 5 stations where speakers told them pieces of the Easter story and then they got surprises or made things at each one! One station was the prayer station, where the kids heard how Jesus took time to pray because He knew what was coming. The kids then wrote on a prayer Wall, that we have hung up in Treeasure Cove. It is so precious to read the prayers of children!! Come by and check it out and include them in your prayers! It was an amazing day that would not be possible without our serving team! Thank you so much for everyone who served, they truly showed the love of Christ. And a big thank you to all the donations of eggs and candy, we had more eggs this year then ever before!! We are already looking at ways to make it even better next year!!!
From the News Herald
Lynn Haven UMC runs its program a little differently, holding massive food distribution days with trucks’ worth of food every few months. The line often extends out into the parking lot.
In February, the church gave out 125 boxes of food to needy families, some of whom already had come by for past donations, which enabled the church to strike up a relationship and pray for recipients. They gave out another 5,000 pounds of food Friday.
“God has always provided every single truck,” Howell said. “We have fresh produce, frozen meat, baked goods and cereal. It’s about enough to feed a family for one to two weeks.”
While recipients at Center for Hope must be below the poverty threshold, at Lynn Haven UMC, people must fill out a form beforehand but otherwise aren’t required to show an ID or prove they’re in dire financial straits.
On February 19th, Springfield UMC was struck by a devastating fire. The sanctuary, offices, and prayer rooms were a total loss and the church also suffered water and smoke damage. The congregation of this church was faced with a worldly disaster. In addition to being their place of worship, the Mission House feeds 80-90 families every week. In the face of this situation, God saw opportunity.
On the evening of the fire, Pastor Seven Grogan was interviewed and said, “We’re still going to be here on Tuesday to feed families, be here next Sunday... nothing is going to stop us. We’re going to turn tragedy into triumph and we know that.” Two days later, the church opened its doors to the local community and continued their ministry to feed the community. “This is showing the community that we are not going to stop, and we’re not going to let anything defeat us... we are overcomers... and that we will survive,” said Pastor Grogan.
The fire has put a community spotlight on this congregation and their resilience in the face of tragedy. It has also put a spotlight on their commitment to serving the community for Christ. They worshiped the following Sunday behind their sanctuary and are planning the way forward. Due to your generous giving, we were able to give this church $2000 that we had allocated to disaster relief from the ministry budget. We have also loaned them our portable baptistery.
You can help them rebuild at www.SpringfieldUMCPC.org/donate.
Last year a New Horizons School mentor approached me with a situation involving his mentee, who had graduated and was having difficulty keeping a job and housing. The need to stabilize this young adult led me to talk to some individuals with social service agencies in a case management troubleshooting session at an Adult Protective Team monthly meeting attendees at The Department of Children and Families. Contacts were initiated to help the young man with housing and employment. He was able to be assessed for housing in a group home.
This week, over six months later, the LHUMC volunteer mentor to New Horizons approached and told me how well the young man is doing. This mentor was pleased to report that the young man’s life has stabilized. He is happy in the group home environment.
My desire and part of what I believe is my call to the work of a deacon serving the church and the community is to see further partnerships in the community between faith based groups, like LHUMC volunteers, schools like New Horizons, and social service agencies and other groups in town. By connecting with one another, sharing resources, and keeping the best interest of people with needs in mind, we are being good stewards of resources that God has made available and making sure that people, especially those with special needs, know they are loved and supported.
Cathy Byrd, MS CRSSParish Case Manager and Deacon in Residence