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From the Pastor's Pen — 2007 Archive
 




Bob

 Bob Kerr

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June 2007: "Graduation, Annual Conference, Weddings, and the Coming of Summer"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Boy, that's an all-inclusive title, isn't it? May was a wonderful and busy month: Mother's Day; the Car Show; Weddings; Memorial Day Sunday with Air Force Major Patty Kim, just back from Afghanistan; and more. Just when we thought we could sit back and relax a bit, June has come rushing around the corner with lots of good stuff, too! Honoring our Graduates, the convening of Annual Conference at Lake Junaluska, Father's Day, and lots of prayers for rain!

We are, of course, proud of our graduates and will keep them in our prayers during this time of transition in their lives. So many of you have been instrumental in the shaping of their character and in establishing a good foundation for the rest of their lives.

Annual Conference is held each year at Lake Junaluska, and every church in our conference sends a delegate along with the preacher to represent the interests and concerns of the local church. Mike Bostic will be representing you this year and Laura Gann will be attending as well. At Conference we have lots of dialogue about lots of things that touch upon the life of the church, and pastoral appointments are made (this time last year we were packing furiously to move to a place named Terrell …). We're so relieved not to be packing this year! It is important for us to pray for the delegates at Annual Conference, and to pray for both the clergy families and the congregations that will be experiencing pastoral change.

This year at Annual Conference we will be electing delegates to attend the Jurisdictional and General Conferences in 2008. The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference is where new Bishops are elected for our area, and the General Conference is the main authoritative gathering of United Methodists from around the world. It is at that Conference that any changes in church law, policy, or The Book of Discipline are made. So from this Annual Conference through next spring, the delegates we elect in June will be studying issues, meeting together, so they can prepare to faithfully and fully represent each of us at those two Conferences. So keep them all in your prayers.

With summer coming on, many of our people will be traveling on vacation. Please be faithful to remember one another in prayer. And perhaps July will be a little less busy …

Yours in the service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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July 2007: "Freedom's the Birthright of All God's Children"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Little did I know at the time that the song we wrote for the Veterans' Wall fundraiser would be so well received! "Freedom's the Birthright of All" acknowledges the sacrifices our military men and women and their families have made over the years to secure freedom for all of us, and often for people in far-off lands as well. I understand we are facing a situation today in which we are losing 1500 veterans of World War Two per day! What a remarkable generation they have been, and what sacrifices they made for freedom during that war. No matter what war they served in, be sure this Fourth of July to thank a veteran for their willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice to keep the rest of us free from tyranny and fear.

Securing freedom is a costly proposition, isn't it? We are created in the image of God, and it is God's intent that we be free. Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." That freedom is not a freedom from responsibility or accountability, however. We stand before the Living God accountable for what we do with the freedom God gives us in life (we call it "free will"). And of course the ultimate freedom was also secured for us at great cost — the life of the only Son of God. When Jesus died for us, he did so to set us free from the bondage of sin so we could become all that God had in mind for us to be. It is the only true freedom.

So this Fourth of July, when you stand and sing the National Anthem, when you hear "God Bless America," and watch fireworks displays and enjoy a cookout with family and friends, give humble thanks to God for His "Amazing Grace" and for the gift of the true freedom we enjoy in Christ. And never cease to give thanks that we live in a free land, full of opportunities to do good for others and to work to make the dreams in our hearts reality.

Yours in the service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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August 2007: "Camp Meetings and New Beginnings"

Dear Friends in Christ,

What a unique experience — Camp Meeting! As people across denominational lines gather together at Balls Creek and Rock Springs for Annual Camp Meeting, they are reminded that they are heirs to a great faith and are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses! Since the early 1800s, the Good News of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed at Camp Meeting, hymns of praise and thanksgiving have been lifted to God's throne of grace, and souls have been led into saving relationships with Jesus Christ!

This month I'll be preaching at camp meeting on Tuesday evening the 14th and our choir will be leading the special music as well. It's been about 30 years since I last preached at camp meeting and brought a group of singers with me and I'm looking forward to it.

August is a time that sees us beginning our preparations for the start of the new school year, and much of our church programming prepares to swing into full motion as well. This summer we've organized a new Christian Education committee to develop stronger ministry in Christian Education, and we've organized a new Audio Visual Ministries Team to upgrade our technology in order to enhance worship, and bring a new dimension to our outreach in the community as well. You'll hear more about their ministry as they meet and chart their course!

Preparations for our next Family Life Center planning committee meeting are about finished, and that group will be swinging into action shortly as well. And of course, with our charge conference coming in the fall, our Nominating and Finance committees will be meeting soon to begin making preparations for the new year's leadership and budget.

All of you have been so good to Linda and me, in so many ways, that I have to say it is a real blessing to us to be celebrating the beginning of our second year in mission and ministry with you. We'll all be a bit busier this year as we follow the leadership of God's Spirit in our Church, but those busy times will be filled with excitement and joy as we recognize God is at work among us, accomplishing His will through us. Whatever the challenges may be in this second year, I am confident that we will be able to "do all things through Christ" who strengthens us. May God bless the remainder of your summer!

Yours in the service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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September 2007: "The Launch Is a Success!"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Well, as many of you know, my summer has included a boat-building project with our ten-year-old grandson Cody, who lives in Asheville. We started the week after Easter during spring break and completed the shaping of the hull before he had to go back home. Little did I know that this young lad had some serious misgivings about our enterprise. Only later did I learn that he had asked his grandmother, "Do you think grandpa really knows what he's doing?" To which Linda replied, "I don't know, Cody. Just be sure you wear your life jacket!" When Linda told me about that conversation, I replied, "O ye of little faith …"

I spent some late evenings and hot afternoons out in the shed out back working on it so when Cody returned for summer vacation we could finish it and get it in the water. I checked after spending a couple of hours working out there one Saturday and it was 108 degrees in the workshop! We have a baked finish on the boat for sure.

Last week, we had the boat ready to "float test" over at Jack and Rosie Sailstad's. Their neighbor Gary had a boat ramp, so we backed the truck down to the ramp and off-loaded the boat. And yes, Jack loaned us two life jackets to be on the safe (and legal) side. We didn't have a motor set up yet, so Jack loaned me a collapsible canoe paddle from his boat to use (I have since wondered how on earth Jack ever expected to paddle his big boat with that little thing. He'll have to call for help for sure!) Cody and I paddled our little 9'9" rowboat around in circles, watching to see if the boat had any leaks, and being careful not to let the wind overpower our little paddle. After all, a grandpa's boat-building reputation was at stake.

Cody's coming back for a final outing in the boat, now that school has just started in Asheville. He wants to go fishing in it, so we needed some power. These last few nights I've been back out in that workshop making two oars for the boat (we're going to be its power). We'll row over to our fishing spot, and have a great early morning together. The oars are much bigger than Jack's paddle, and will no doubt get us where we're going.

Now, you're probably asking by now, what's the point in all of this? Point is, the boat's not going anywhere without some significant source of power to move it along. The oars, and a grandfather/grandson team with strong arms will do the trick. Life's like that too. We need something, or someone to give us the power we need to move through life, and the Biblical promise is that God's Holy Spirit is precisely that powerful presence within us. Open your heart daily to His presence, and you'll find His grace and strength are sufficient for all your needs.

Yours in the service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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October 2007: "The Gift of a Child"

Dear Friends in Christ,

The first Sunday in October we will be gathering with millions of Christians around the world to celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion, remembering the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will share the Bread and the Cup, we will repentantly confess our sins to the Lord, and give thanks to God for the richness of his love toward us.

When you think about it, I mean really think about it, it is an unimaginable depth of love that God has for us, to have sent His only begotten Son to suffer for us, to take our sins upon himself, to be wounded for our wrong doing, so that simply by believing in Him we might be forgiven our sins and become joint heirs with Him in His eternal kingdom.

Dennis DeLacure was the chaplain at Florida Southern College when I was a student there years ago, and I remember very vividly the Methodist Student Movement meeting at which Dennis spoke on Wednesday evening. He said that when his first child was born, and he held him in his arms for the first time, he felt such a flood of love as he had never known before. In that moment, he said he realized for the first time what it had actually cost God to surrender the life of his only begotten Son so we could be saved. He asked himself if there were any circumstances under which he would surrender that precious new life just on the chance someone else might be led to God, and he had to confess his answer was "none."

It was no sure thing that every one of us would become a believer, no sure thing that He would not die in vain. And every day, men, women, and young people reject His offer of love and forgiveness because they love the darkness more than light. But every day thousands of others, all around the world, experience His love, grace and mercy when they receive Christ in their hearts, and every time someone does, the light shines a little brighter!

May God continue to bless you with Grace and Peace,

Bob

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November 2007: "A New November Ritual for the Book of Worship
The Striking of the Match and the Lighting of the Fires ..."

Dear Friends in Christ,

Just around the corner comes the November Barbecue! How amazed I was last year when I first witnessed this remarkable event. Of course, for me it began at midnight on Thursday. Maison Sherrill asked if I would come and have a prayer before the fires were lighted. When all was ready, we had a prayer asking God to bless the striking of the match and the lighting of the fires. We fed the flames for the next few hours and then (it seemed to me almost magically) pickup trucks loaded with pork shoulders pulled in, another crew of church members jumped out, opened the lids of the grills, scrubbed the grills clean, and started placing the meat. The cooking began in earnest. When the sun came up, all kinds of folks came out of the woodwork — there was slaw to be prepared, and a labor-intensive preparation of sweet potatoes as well. Teams were lined up to serve tables, wash dishes, and take care of all the menial, behind-the-scenes things that make the Barbecue a great success. Linda loved those delicious rolls, and we made our contribution standing over the sink washing dishes!

When we arrived back home, I turned to Linda and said, "A Church that can pull that off, and do it so smoothly and with such great harmony, can do anything!"

When you think about it, I mean really think about it, that should be the way God's people go about everything, isn't it? With a spirit of unity and mutual camaraderie, with a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and how to accomplish it — with positive, loving regard for each other. In the year since the last Barbecue, Linda and I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the life and ministry of Rehobeth, and we have seen the Spirit of Christ moving through the church, blessing our relationships with one another, and setting the stage for some real blessings on down the road.

November is a time when we celebrate the blessings we've already received from the grace, mercy and providence of God, and our hearts are especially filled with gratitude. I found an interesting statement in my reading this past week:

"How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors.  It changes a child's personality. A child [can be] resentful, negative — or thankful.  Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people."  — Sir John Templeton

This Thanksgiving, teach your children and grandchildren the secret that a grateful heart makes for a more abundant life. Do it by giving thanks in their presence.

May God continue to bless you with Grace and Peace,

Bob

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December 2007: "Lessons from the Advent Wreath"

Dear Friends in Christ,

During our morning worship service throughout Advent, families from our congregation light a candle on the Advent wreath, share an appropriate scripture and Advent reading, and then lead us in prayer.

There are four candles on the wreath and a white candle in the center, which represents Christ. The other four represent Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy.

Hope. Jesus is the hope of the world. In him we see the love of God for us all, and that love gives us hope in all of life's circumstances. For those who have lost loved ones, the hope at the heart of Christmas is in the day when we will be reunited with those loved ones in God's eternal Kingdom, and what a wonderful day it will be! The Bible tells us that if it is for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all persons most to be pitied. Because Jesus was born in Bethlehem, we have a hope that is eternal, and the New Testament tells us our hope in Christ will never disappoint us.

Peace. Isaiah called Jesus, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." In our celebration of Christmas, we always pray for peace: peace in our hearts, our homes, our communities, our world. Jesus is our Prince of Peace, and peace becomes a Christian virtue in the life of the Church. Paul admonishes Christians all the time to maintain the "unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." Jesus also said, "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons (and daughters) of God."

Love. The third Sunday in Advent, we light the candle of Love, representing the love that came down to us in the Christ child that first Christmas. What a wonderful statement of faith that "we love because he first loved us and gave himself for us." God initiates love in our lives, and ours is the only faith that defines God by that one beautiful word. As the Christ Child brings God's love to our hearts, God expects us to do everything we do in love — no exceptions, no excuses.

Joy. Ever known a joyless Christian? It's sort of a contradiction in terms, isn't it? Jesus said, "I have come that you might have joy and that your joy will be full!" As we join for worship, for the singing of the great songs of Advent and Christmas, as we give thanks to God for his gift of the Christ Child to us, joy wells up in our hearts like an overflowing fountain!

Linda and I would like to extend our sincerest wishes for a very Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. 

May your holiday be filled with Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy!

Bob

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Rehobeth United Methodist Church • 9297 Sherrills Ford Road • P.O. Box 356 • Terrell, NC 28682
Copyright © 2007 Robert L. Kerr, D.Min
Used by permission