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From the Pastor's Pen — 2010 Archive
 




Bob

 Bob Kerr

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January 2010: "A Question for the New Year: Can Someone Really Change?"

Dear Friends in Christ,

What a wonderful celebration of the birth of our Savior we shared over the Christmas holidays as we heard the marvelous story of Jesus' birth told in so many different ways. The Cantata was magnificent, the White Gifts service under the leadership of our youth was a blessing, and our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service always feels like the high moment in our observance of this sacred event in human history.

One of the things Linda and I had an opportunity to do this year was to see a few more Christmas movies on television as we both were recovering from surgeries. There was a recurring theme in many of them — someone had been alienated from the family, and the story revolved around the recovery of a relationship of love that had been lost, in some instances for years. The movies were heartwarming and made us wish that good endings could always happen in real life.

Another thing we noticed was that there was a recurring question in these movies this year as well: "Do you believe that someone really can change?" For indeed, for reconciliation to occur in relationships, change is often required. We tend to think that people will always be the same way they have always been, and as a result we sometimes give up on them (or ourselves) prematurely. But if we were to look closely, we'd see that change happens all around us, all the time. How many of us have known recovering alcoholics whose lives have been redeemed by their commitment to sobriety? Linda and I have a dear friend who is celebrating over a decade of sobriety and his life has changed in marvelous ways. He has been truly blessed. I know another man who, when I first met him, appeared to have always been a devout believer; but everyone told me if I had known him years ago, I wouldn't believe he was the same person. I have even known a former high official in the Communist party in Cuba who gave his life to Christ and was transformed into one of the most Spirit-filled Christians I've ever met.

The Bible tells us that we can become "new creatures" in Christ, and that we can grow and mature in Christian love. New beginnings are possible; John Wesley said that "a decisive change can and does occur in the human heart" when we receive the love and grace of God within. And that change can often bring healing and hope to relationships that have been fragmented.

Linda and I want to wish each of you a Happy New Year, filled with happiness, love, peace, and joy and we pray that in the New Year, God will bless us all in such a way that we can become agents of change and blessing in the lives of others as well.

Yours in the Love of Christ,

Bob

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February 2010: "Matters of the Heart"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Every now and then a tragedy occurs that tugs at all of our heart strings, and we come together as one body to address the aftermath. The devastation caused by wildfires, tornadoes, flash floods and mudslides, September 11 terrorist attacks—all evoke a response sympathetic to the victims of these occurrences, and help pours in from all directions, and a nation comes together, unified in purpose. The earthquake that struck Haiti, however, involves mass death and destruction unlike any natural disaster we've seen in our lifetimes. The estimates now stand at 200,000 dead, with many more so seriously injured that they may not survive. And our response? It has been immediate and is growing every day.

Thousands of U.S. troops are on the ground in Haiti now. Some have been given the task of establishing a secure environment so aid can reach desperate people — the hungry, the inured, and others — and some have been given the task of delivering food, water, and medicines throughout the region. Medical personnel are pouring in from many other nations and an appeal for more medical staff and supplies has been made loud and clear. The scope of the devastation is huge,and nations from around the world are responding. The response to such suffering cuts through all the political differences that so often make nations adversaries of each other. The response to such tragedy, you see, is not political. It is a matter of the heart.

Our Scriptures tell us that we are all created in the image of God and that God loves each of us with a steadfast, grace-filled love. In times of tragedy, our hearts are touched and our spirits moved to do something that will help. Though these are people who are quite different from us in many ways—their culture, the way they live, the way they speak — our hearts are moved by compassion for them, for they are part of our family, the family of humankind, created in God's own image. So from wealthy nations and poor, help is on the way.

The United Methodist Church already has people on the ground in Haiti, and our United Methodist Committee on Relief lost some people in Haiti due to the earthquake, so the losses are personal for us as well. Assessments are being made, teams are being formed, an appeal for surgeons with "crush injury" experience has gone out across the country; and we will remain in Haiti long after everyone else is gone. That's just what we do. And for that, I must admit I am extremely proud to be a United Methodist. Historically known as "warm-hearted" people, we recognize that healing and recovery takes time, often lots of it, and we stay committed until the job is done. Pray for the victims in this tragic event, and for all the survivors and all those who will be ministering to them. We are confident that God can be found in the midst of this tragedy, perhaps in the form of a piece of bread or a cup of water or a shot of antibiotics—but God is there. You see, it's a matter of the heart for God too.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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March 2010: "The Journey Toward Jerusalem"

Dear Friends in Christ,

There was almost no way to describe what they had seen. It had been too overwhelming, too glorious. It defied description. Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain late in the evening. There Jesus intended to pray. His disciples were fighting off sleepiness. One gospel writer tells us that they hadn't quite fallen asleep, the other tells us that they were awakened from sleep, when a bright, shining radiance burst through the dark night. From within Jesus, the radiance of his eternal glory was shining out, and his entire countenance changed! No spotlight from heaven, this radiance came from within the Lord. And with his changed countenance, the disciples found themselves looking upon the Christ of creation, the one of whom John spoke when he wrote the following passage:

In the beginning was the Word [Jesus] and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it …' And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory …

It was this glory to which John is referring. The point is this: Jesus left the glory of heaven to come and live among us, that we—believing in him—might share in the glory that was restored to him at the resurrection. When Peter, James, and John saw him on the Mount of Transfiguration (which means to be changed in form), they were catching a glimpse of what the resurrected body of Jesus would be like! Wouldn't you have loved to have been there that day? The same awe and fear would have overwhelmed us, just as it did them. And one day, we who believe, will see Jesus in all his glory and splendor, and will share in it. All this is made possible because of the Love and Grace of God—made possible because Jesus was willing to die for the sins of the world, that we would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

As we journey toward Jerusalem into this sacred season of Lent, let us respond to this great, unmerited gift with prayer and praise and thanksgiving. At the end of the month, we will find ourselves in Holy Week and will share in the Maundy Thursday Communion service and the Service of Darkness on Good Friday, the day of crucifixion. Then — we will celebrate the glory of Resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 4. Invite someone you know and love to join you on this journey. The news is too good not to share it with others!

May God bless you this month as we join Jesus on his journey toward Jerusalem.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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April 2010: "The Centurion and Jesus"

Dear Friends in Christ,

A centurion was a Roman soldier who commanded other soldiers and was accountable to the Roman Governor of a province and to Caesar. Experienced in battle, a centurion had seen it all. And when he had entered the city of Rome in times of victory over an enemy, he was accustomed to seeing a huge, cheering crowd, and there was plenty of "pomp and circumstance" surrounding their victory. Usually a long line of chained enemy captives trailed along behind, destined to become slaves. At the head of the procession, the leader was decked out in all his finery. It was always a thrilling and exciting event for him.

On this occasion, a huge crowd of several hundred thousand Jews had gathered in and around Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Stationed there now, the centurion was charged with keeping order among the Jews, as they were prone to periodic revolt. A commotion was taking place outside the city walls. When it became apparent that something unusual was going on, the centurion would have gone to check it out. It sounded like the kind of cheering that accompanied a victorious return of Caesar!

When he arrived outside the city gate, however, the sight that met him confused him. A huge crowd of ordinary people were making their way into the city, shouting "Hosanna to the King" and waving palm branches high over their heads in celebration. So he naturally was looking for a king in their midst. All he could see was a man riding on the back of a small donkey, with someone's garment spread across its back in place of a saddle. "No victorious King here," he might have murmured under his breath as he turned to re-enter the city.

These Jews were strange people, he might have thought, with such silly notions about this man being a King, and when he looked back over his shoulder to survey the crowd, he noticed there were no dignitaries there, no finery, streaming banners or gold standards declaring the might of a King. Just palm branches in hand, and dusty clothes laying on the ground for the little donkey to walk across. He went back into the city, deciding that whatever that parade was about, it didn't pose much of a problem for Roman might. However, he'd need to stay vigilant so this joyful parade might not turn into some kind of riot. So as he re-entered the city, he charged the soldiers he commanded to keep a watchful eye on the crowd and to notify him if it seemed they were getting out of hand. Little did he suspect that by three o'clock in the afternoon on Friday of that week, he would find himself standing at the foot of a cross to which this "King" had been nailed and declare, "Surely, this was the Son of God."

Easter — the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, and the declaration that "all who believe should not perish but have life everlasting!" Easter — a celebration of a kingdom that has outlasted the Roman Empire and will outlast any empire that graces the face of the earth. The Kingdom of God is eternal, and because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, we live with an eternal hope in our hearts — that because he lives, we too shall live forever with him. May God bless you with the joy of Easter throughout this month.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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May 2010: "Going Home …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

My wife's all time favorite movie has always been "The Wizard of Oz." We taped it once years ago on our VCR. Then we recorded it again—and again. Every time it came on the television, Linda asked me to record another copy. When I suggested to her that the five copies we had should suffice, she replied, "Well, you never know. Something might happen to them and then I wouldn't have a copy to watch."

In the movie, Dorothy clicks the heels of her ruby red shoes together, and transitions from being in the Land of Oz to arriving back home in Kansas. She wakes up and finds herself in bed, surrounded by her Aunt Em and her dearest friends ad says, "There's no place like home; there's no place like home."

When my parents were deciding to sell the old home place in Miami and move into a retirement community nearly ten years ago, they called to ask if I had any feelings about them selling the home where I grew up. I shared with them in the years since I left home, they had remodeled, built an addition, put in a pool and a gazebo in the back yard. So it wasn't exactly the same place it was when I grew up there. Besides, I said, home for me has always been wherever the people I love are. It is the relationship between us and those in our families that makes home a special place. For my brothers and me, home was a caring, nurturing place, where we always knew we were loved and safe. I know that for all too many people in our communities today, home is not always such a blessed place. Some homes are filled with violence, mean-spiritedness, and abuse. Some family dynamics are so wretched that the children in the home can't wait to get away and never go back.

I had a conversation with a young man just a few weeks ago about my home life as a child and teenager, and he confessed he had never known that kind of love and encouragement growing up. He'd always been made to feel as though he had no worth and what I was describing to him sounded like a fantasy to him. We talked about how he could break that cycle and one day build the kind of family he'd like to have his children experience, and I believe he has a good chance to do just that.

Well, this month, we're celebrating another kind of Homecoming. We'll be gathering as a family in Christ, to remember the saints who have gone before us, who laid a foundation of faith, hope, and love for all who would follow as worshippers in this sacred space. We have inherited from them the opportunity to continue to create the kind of "Home in Christ" at Rehobeth to which people will yearn to return. And we have also inherited a promise: "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you unto myself, that where I am you may be also." One day each of us will go "home" to that place Jesus spoke of in the quote above, and what a marvelous Homecoming that will be! There will be no suffering, sorrow, disease, or death there, and God will wipe away our every tear. It will be a day of glad family reunion with those who have gone before.

I hope to see you on May 2 for Homecoming as one of our own, the Rev. Randy Sherrill, returns to bring the Homecoming message. May God continue to bless your home and your loved ones!

Yours in Christ,

Bob

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June 2010: "Transforming the World …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

What would you do if God "spoke" to you and told you to build an ark? Now, by "speaking to you" I mean in such a way as you were firmly convinced that this was something God intended for you to do, and would not leave you alone until you consented to build that ark. Would your family think that you were nuts? And what about the neighbors as that ark began to take shape in the field across the street? No doubt the reaction you would experience from others would be very much like that depicted in the delightful movie, "Evan Almighty."

The movie has been out for quite some time and available on DVD. (Sounds like a commercial, I know, but bear with me.) Linda and I watched it recently for the second time, and one particular scene caught my attention. The ark had been built, just before a power dam broke and flood waters rushed down into the developments below. And because the ark provided safe refuge for the people, they had all been saved—all except the corrupt politician who had cut corners in building the dam years before. (He would have to face the wrath of his colleagues and public outrage.)

So Evan takes his family to a hillside near their home to enjoy a picnic, now that all the action was over. There, leaning against a tree that looked a bit like images of "The Tree of Life," was God, in the form of actor Morgan Freeman, who had been prodding Evan all along the way to do his bidding. Evan says that he really had wanted to change the world. Freeman responds by asking him, "How do you change the world?" Evan replies, "with one random act of kindness at a time."

Just a few years ago, we adopted a new theme for our Western North Carolina Annual Conference Churches—"Follow Jesus, Make Disciples, Transform the World." And on Saturday, June 5, we are joining hands with other United Methodists all across Western North Carolina to engage our communities with "random acts of kindness." We call it MISSION IMPACT DAY. Wearing red shirts, many of the over 300,000 United Methodists in our Conference will work in soup kitchens, help build wheelchair ramps, package food for the hungry, volunteer at the Mission Response Center, build a tool storage shed on the site of the future UMAR home for folks with special needs, and much, much more. In our own Lake Norman District, there are 24,000 United Methodists, and we'll be meeting over at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Mooresville at 7:30 AM for a prayer breakfast and "sending forth." At 4:00 PM that afternoon, we'll gather over at Concord United Methodist Church on Monbo Road for a celebration. Plan to join us for this remarkable day of service to our communities. We may not build an ark, but through every random act of kindness, a life will be touched, and little by little our world will be transformed!

Annual Conference will be June 10-13, so please remember the gathering in your prayers. Linda and I will be returning to Rehobeth for a fifth year, and we are delighted to continue having the opportunity to be part of the life and ministry of such a wonderful congregation! May God bless each of you with Grace and Peace …

Yours in Christ,

Bob

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July 2010: "Against Improbable Odds …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

While making preparations to celebrate the 4th of July and our Declaration of Independence, I spent some time re-reading the Federalist papers from a few years later written by Hamilton, Adams, and Jay; papers that go into greater depth about the foundational thinking behind the creation of these United States and their remarkable Constitution, and other comments by our "founding fathers."

In the ongoing debate about the relationship between the founding of our country and religious faith, it is important to note that there was a very strong acknowledgment of Divine Presence that permeated all of our most significant founding documents. For example, the Declaration refers to the "laws of nature and of nature's God," that all persons are "endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights," and refers to the "Supreme Judge of the world" and "Divine Providence."

Our Constitution guarantees the free expression of religion in its first amendment, not freedom from religious expression. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the freedom of religious expression clause does not mean that any and every religious practice is permissible under law, examples of which would be polygamy (marriage with multiple partners) or human sacrifice. The State has a compelling interest in restricting these practices.

And, of course, the debate goes on, interestingly much to the puzzlement of many other western nations. For you see, against improbable odds, and unlike in many other western nations, religious faith is a subject that is deeply important to the vast majority of Americans, regardless of their own particular religious beliefs. Against seemingly impossible odds, dialogue about Jesus, who he was and the significance of his life, continues to dominate the minds and imaginations of most Americans. And why? Because our national psyche revolves around the conviction that freedom has everything to do with our relationship with our Creator God. Ask the average person on the street to complete this statement: "You will know the truth and the truth will make you …" and the response you'll get, I'll bet, will be "free!"

As you celebrate the 4th of July this month, as you recall the Declaration of Independence, give thanks to God that against improbable odds, the revolution was successful and a nation was born that with all its faults and failings, its periods of darkness and sin, still bears within it the seeds of freedom, and still sees that freedom is the God-given birthright of all the people of the earth. Bear witness, too, in your daily living, that there is also a calling to a deeper kind of freedom … attested to in the words of Jesus himself: "When the Son makes you free, [then] you will be free indeed." 

Yours in Christ,

Bob

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August 2010: "Finishing the Race"

Dear Friends in Christ,

During the past several weeks we have been adjusting to the loss of several of our faithful members as the Lord has called them home to heaven. It has seemed as though no sooner had we completed one "Celebration of Life" service than another family found themselves planning such a service for one of their loved ones. In rapid sequence we said farewell to Nolan Sines, Bob Greene, Bob Chandler, Jim Valentine, and Shirley Hall.

Though we use the word "loss" to describe this "going home," we are mindful that our loved ones are never truly lost to us. They have merely "finished the race" and "kept the faith" that Paul refers to in his second letter to Timothy in the New Testament. As I journeyed from one household to the next, and then the next, I listened with deep appreciation as family members described their loved ones, and what wonderful memories each family had to share with one another and with me. Often laughter filled those living rooms as families reminisced about experiences that were uplifting, joyful, and funny.

Every life celebrated was unique, exquisitely beautiful in its own way, and a reminder that there is no one else exactly like any one of us on the face of the earth. Never has been, never will be. Though each of us is born bearing the image of God, each of us is blessed and gifted with unique traits, some of which come to us genetically, others as gifts of God, meant to be used to glorify God in whatever work we embrace in life. Jeremiah quotes the word of the Lord when he says, "Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you." In each of our hearts there is an innate desire to know God, this one "from whom we come and unto whom our spirits return."

Our lives are like a race, Paul says. There is a starting line, the course to run, and finish line to cross. So we are born. We grow, are nurtured by loved ones, find a meaningful purpose for our lives, honorable work of various kinds, and are careful to honor God and glorify our creator in whatever we do. Age begins to take its toll, and here again, Paul's analogy is clear. Everyone who has ever run a race knows that the hardest part of that race is when the finish line comes into view. Weary, exhausted, gasping for breath, we dig down deep, find that second wind, and give every effort to making it across the finish line. As we age, we notice those changes in our bodies, don't we? I know the biggest change I've noticed is that I don't heal as rapidly as I did when I was younger, and there are a few more morning aches and pains with which to contend. But I'm still running that race. I do so, however, with the realization that there is a finish line for me to cross as well. And when I cross it, Paul says there will be a crown of righteousness waiting for me as Christ brings me home at the end of my journey. This is the natural course of things for us, and how thankful we are that God is running this race right alongside of each and every one of us. When we cross that finish line, the first victory embrace we will receive will be from Jesus Christ himself, who said, 'I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also." Granted, it can be pretty scary getting close that finish line, but Jesus says to us, "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

May God bless you with Grace and Peace as you continue to run the race!

Yours in Christ,

Bob

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September 2010: "The Importance of Education"

Dear Friends in Christ,

It was really quite a morning! As we presented scholarships to 11 (!) Rehobeth young people recently, we celebrated what remarkable young people they are. Off to college and graduate school, their academic goals included careers in criminal justice, science, history, law, medicine, veterinary medicine, biology, music education, and nursing. And all of them have distinguished themselves through hard work and commitment. Each of them is an active member at Rehobeth, and they represent us well, for each of them is a person of deep faith. I have no doubt as they move forward that we will continue to be proud of them.

These scholarship grants have been made possible since former pastor Donnie Lloyd made an initial contribution to start the scholarship fund, and voluntary contributions and memorials have added to it over the years. That has enabled us to grant over $54,000 in educational assistance to our Rehobeth young people since 1987.

As our committee wrestled with the challenges posed by these difficult economic times, we debated whether or not to lower the $1,000 grant per student this year, but we also recognized that these times increased costs for our students and their families as well, so we decided to step forward in faith, support our students for the full amount, and then encourage our people to support the scholarship fund with their gifts. It is an approved designated fund and undesignated memorials can be directed to it. Since we presented these scholarships, two families have already designated memorials to go to this fund and we have received personal contributions as well. Depending on how we do building up the fund this year, we hope to be able to fully support our youth next year as well.

John Wesley would be proud, by the way. He stressed how important education was for Christians who want to grow and who want to give a good account of the faith they hold in their hearts. Which leads to our second concern about education ...

Some time ago, I asked Dr. Steve Pickard, whose entire career has been spent in education both as a teacher and an administrator, to head up our new education committee. And I gave him and his committee the charge to create a program of Christian Education here at Rehobeth that would be one of the main reasons people who visit with us as guests might decide to unite with our fellowship. So he and our new Sunday School Superintendent, Debbie Michael, have been hard at work putting together a planning retreat for our teachers and workers in the Sunday School department, from our youngest children to our oldest adults. They are all being asked to meet Saturday, September 18 for a wonderfully creative sounding opportunity to approach all this as a team, tapping the wisdom and experience of our teachers and creatively shaping a ministry in education that will effectively nurture all of our Sunday School participants on Sunday mornings. Let me encourage every teacher and substitute to give this retreat priority! Your input is vitally important to the success of this process.

The rest of us need to be engaged in active, focused prayer about this important ministry in the life of our church. With the Lord's guidance, and the creative input of our teachers, I have no doubt we will accomplish this goal.

Yours in Christ,

Bob

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October 2010: "The Rhythms of the Soul …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

When I was growing up, I always thought the metronome sitting on my mother's piano was some kind of antique device that was there for decorative purposes, at least until the day I saw her reach over to it, slide the tab up the bar a bit, and then start it ticking back and forth to keep the right tempo for the song she was about to play. I asked her about it, and she said every song had its own unique temp. The composer had a particular speed in mind when he wrote the song, and for the song to be played correctly, it had to be played at that precise rhythm. Now, years later, and having composed scores of songs myself, I thoroughly understand what she was saying. If someone were to take an inspirational song I had written and decided to sing it really fast, the mood and the message the song was created to convey would be lost. So, a polka is meant to be played at one speed, a waltz at another, a tango has a different rhythm, and a slow dance — well, that speaks for itself, doesn't it?

There are rhythms in nature as well, aren't there? Springtime bursting forth with new life brings with it a lighthearted and joyful enthusiasm; the Summer's rhythm is slower, warmer, more plodding; Autumn brings a contemplative rhythm to life as we watch the leaves change into brilliant colors and fall and the air turns crisper; and when Winter comes, with its snow and ice and bare branches, we bundle up against the cold wind and yearn for the warmth of a fireside (especially after snowball fights and sledding!).

There are rhythms to the soul as well, aren't there? When that new baby is born into the family, our souls soar with joy and enthusiasm, with vision and expectation. In times when we struggle with a loved one's critical illness, our souls can grow weary and heavy laden as we seek the best ways we can love and care for them. When we are new in the faith, the soul is light, and we walk in communion and fellowship with the Spirit; when we stumble and fall, the rhythm of the soul is interrupted by sin. Forgiveness and redemption reset our souls' metronome, re-establish the rhythm God intended for us, and restores a pace that enables us to run the race and keep the faith once more. And if we have been burdened down by life and the circumstances surrounding us, turning to God each day in prayer and devotion will help, as will communion and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. So, what is the rhythm in your soul today? Does it reflect the Composer's original intent for your life?

Yours in the Love of Christ,

Bob

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November 2010: "All One Tapestry — Woven Together"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Ah, we're journeying through November … the annual Barbecue, families gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving, the smell of spiced pumpkin pie in the oven, the falling of the last of the leaves of autumn, and the beginning of Advent when we start to prepare our hearts for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. You can tell, I like November! And it's an exciting time of the year for us all. As we focus on Thanksgiving, we are very mindful that there are millions of folks who are out of work and desperately seeking employment these days, so having a job in this economy is truly something for which to be thankful as well.

The Fabric of the World

For those of you were unable to be with us on Sunday, October 17, I wanted to include some of the comments we shared together during the morning message. It was Laity Sunday and the focus of our service was the acknowledgment that working men and women (and those who would like to be working) are intimately bound together in life much as threads in the fabric of a tapestry are placed together to form a picture of beauty. Indeed, working folks "hold together the fabric of the world" (Sirach 38:34).

Surgeons and Coal Miners

We shared that whether or not a person was a surgeon or a coal miner, this interdependency is there. The surgeon counts on there being electricity to power the lights and equipment needed in the operating room, and much of that power is generated by coal, mined from the depths of the earth by coal miners. And of course there is reciprocity in this as well. When the coal miner gets sick or injured, he may well end up in the surgeon's care! The coal miner might well say, "I could never do what a surgeon does," while at the same time the surgeon may say, "I could never do what a coal miner does." So we need each other. And we affirmed that all honorable work glorifies God.

At the conclusion message, I shared several suggestions about how one could be careful in their conduct at work so that there work would indeed glorify God:

  1. Do the job you were hired to do.
  2. Do that job with all the excellence you can muster; if you are hired to paint a house, paint it as though you were Michelangelo painting the Sistine chapel!
  3. Take positive thought of your fellow workers — you have no idea what they deal with in their own lives, nor what they experienced just before coming to work. Do unto others …
  4. Be honest in your dealings with the people for and with whom you work.
  5. Keep in the backdrop of your day the thought, "Were Christ to visit today, would he be pleased with the work I am doing?"
  6. Avoid grumbling; it will poison your day and all of your relationships.
  7. When my coworkers discover I am a Christian, will they consider Christ in a positive light?
  8. At the end of my days, do I expect to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant?"

Enjoy November, and I'll look forward to seeing you at the Barbecue!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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December 2010: "Christmas Time Is Here Again!"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Linda and I love Christmas! As we enter the Advent Season, we find ourselves getting out Christmas music, picking up the guitar and singing our favorite songs in the front room of the parsonage. The phone rings and Chaplain Larry Bolick wants to know if we'll come and do a Christmas music program at Abernethy Laurels again, and of course we say "yes!" As we ride along in the car or truck, we put in a Christmas CD and learn a new song for the holidays. We head upstairs to the attic and bring down the Christmas tree, ornaments, and lights and try to decide if I should still crawl up on to the roof and put lights up all along the edge of the gutters. Linda starts gathering together Christmas presents for family and friends and the wrapping begins. And plans are made to get together with our loved ones over the holidays.

As you can tell by now, Christmas just consumes us as we find hope, peace, joy, and love welling up in our hearts as we celebrate God's great gift of love — Jesus, born in Bethlehem's manger. On the way out of the sanctuary following a recent worship service, our music director, Carol, commented that if it hadn't been for the birth of Jesus, none of us would have been gathered together there that morning. I replied that she was right, we'd be Buddhists, or Hindus, or pagans of some sort perhaps. She replied by saying, "Or we could believe in Greek gods and goddesses." "And I guess you'd be the goddess of music?" I answered. She looked at me with a look that seemed to say, "You mean, I'm not?"

Music is a language that touches all of human kind in a way much deeper than the mere spoken word. And on that first Christmas, when shepherd received the good news that this Christ Child had been born in Bethlehem, the announcement was followed by a heavenly chorus singing praises to God. So from the very beginning of this miraculous intervention in human history, music has been a rich part of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is small wonder that we still celebrate his birth in song. And not just in religious songs. There is at the heart of those secular songs we love so much a message of love shared with others.

Music will accompany our celebration throughout the Advent and Christmas season — handbells, Chancel Choir, Praise Team, youth and children's choirs, special solos and duets, a Christmas cantata December 12 at 10:45 AM. And of course, as we gather on Christmas Eve for our Candlelight Communion service, there will be special music that touches our hearts and reminds us of the infinite love of God that made such a gift possible that first Christmas. So, come worship with us through Advent and Christmas, as we proclaim the good news — "Unto us is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord!"

Linda and I would like to express our warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to each of you. May God bless you with hope, joy, peace, and love!

Yours in Christ,

Bob

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Rehobeth United Methodist Church • 9297 Sherrills Ford Road • P.O. Box 356 • Terrell, NC 28682
Copyright © 2010 Robert L. Kerr, D.Min
Used by permission