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From the Pastor's Pen — 2011 Archive
 




Bob

 Bob Kerr

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January 2011: "Facing the Challenges Ahead — Some Thoughts for the New Year"

Dear Friends in Christ,

It was an absolutely wonderful experience, celebrating Christmas with our Rehobeth Church Family! At our household, we were inundated with Christmas cards of all sorts, each with an expression of love and good will. The celebrations were awesome, from the Christmas Cantata, to the White Gifts Concert, to the Candlelight Communion on Christmas Eve. We rejoiced in the birth of our Savior and were blessed!

Linda and I made the rounds, visiting all of our children and grandchildren over the holidays, and of course, visiting the new grandbaby, Matthew, in South Carolina. We sent presents to Mother and Papa, talked with them on Christmas Day, and made plans for a January visit to Florida to spend a few days with them. In all, the Christmas celebration was everything we had hoped it would be — a time to give thanks to God for the gift of the Christ child and a season of love filled with those nearest and dearest to us. And now we face important challenges in this new year.

Many of the people in our community, our families, and extended families still are profoundly affected by the economic climate that surrounds us. The faithful stewardship of our people has allowed us to finish 2010 in good shape financially, but that was also due to some prudence in spending wherever possible. That having been said, your generosity toward others in helping to meet needs of all kinds has been remarkable! We're thankful for the leadership our financial team has rendered during the year past, and the continuing wise stewardship of our resources will be an important concern for us.

The implementation of our Small Group Ministries will afford us some opportunities for significant spiritual growth, hands-on service, and ongoing care-giving for those who wish to participate in a small group — something we're encouraging everyone to consider at some point. The vitality of our church will be enhanced by these ministries.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for us will continue to be finding new and effective ways to reach those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, who've never known His love and grace in their lives. It is the essential reason the Church exists — to glorify God, to proclaim the Good News, and to love others as our primary witness to the authenticity of the faith we are inviting others to embrace. In this new year, that's the biggest challenge that faces us — drawing the circle of God's love wide enough to draw everyone we meet into the Kingdom! May God bless you with a new year filled with health, happiness, and a closer walk with the One who loves you most!

Yours in the Love of Christ,

Bob

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February 2011: "Discipleship and the Circus!"

Dear Friends in Christ,

We had fun with the children during worship recently as we talked about the times my parents loaded me and my two brothers into the car and we headed over to see "The Greatest Show on Earth" — the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus! With elephants and lions, tigers and clowns, trained horses and dogs (and, on occasion, even pigs!), and performance artists of all kinds, the circus was filled with excitement, danger, and unbelievable feats of human skill. And high above it all, there was a man walking on what looked like a really thin wire while holding a long pole to help him keep his balance. And hear this tight wire walker were the trapeze artists. For me, they were the stars of the show. What courage it took for them to be up there, swinging back and forth and executing the different routines they had practiced.

We would watch with awe as the voice of the ringmaster would announce that the "flyer" would now attempt the famous "Triple Somersault!" Letting go of his or her trapeze, the artist would fly through the air, tuck and execute three evolutions, and then reach out for the hands of the "catcher" on the other trapeze. We held our breath, and when the catch was made, we could hear the audible gasp of relief from the audience (part of that gasp was our own!).

These folks made it look easy. Of course, they had spent hours upon hours preparing for that show, equipping themselves physically and mentally for the danger they would encounter so that when the moment came they could accomplish something that looked impossible to the rest of us below. And of course, the feat would not have been possible at all if the "flyer" hadn't trusted the "catcher."

     I'll bet you already know where I'm going with this. Jesus said things like, "Greater things than I have done, you will do," and, "With God, all things are possible." But for this to be a reality in our lives, we have to be willing to do three things: (1) prepare ourselves for discipleship, (2) trust the God who calls us to discipleship, and (3) be willing when the time comes to let go of whatever hinders us from flying!

     Preparing ourselves for discipleship means being an active part of a worshiping community, developing an intentional prayer life, and discovering what our spiritual gifts are. Trusting God involves our willingness to study God's Word, growing in our understanding of God's love and presence in our lives, and gaining a vision of what God calls Christians to both be and do in the world. Letting go means we are willing to let go of whatever would hinder us in the fulfilling of our call to Christian Discipleship. This is perhaps the hardest of the three for us to do. But when we do, we can trust the "catcher," for he is the One whose love for us will last forever!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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March 2011: "Some Thoughts about Lent: 'Sleeping When the Wind Blows' "

Dear Friends in Christ,

There's a Jewish story about a young man who applied for a job as a farmhand. When the farmer asked for his qualifications, he replied, "I can sleep when the wind blows." The statement puzzled the farmer and he mentioned it to his wife. "What could he mean by that?" he asked her. She replied that she had no idea, but he seemed like a nice young man, strong and capable. So the farmer hired him.

A few days later, the farmer and his wife were awakened by a violent storm. As they had always done, they jumped out of bed and raced about to secure their possessions against the storm's fierce wind. They found that the shutters on the windows had already been fastened and were secure, protecting the windows from flying objects. They also discovered that a pile of logs had been neatly stacked beside the fireplace to warm them while the cold wind blew against the house. The farm tools had all be placed in the storage shed, safe from the rain, driven by the wind. The tractor had been moved into the garage and the doors were fastened. The barn was secured and the large doors latched. Even the animals were calm, and they found the young farmhand in his bed, sleeping soundly.

The farmer then understood what the young man had meant when he had said "I can sleep when the wind blows." Because the farmhand did his work diligently and prepared for the coming storm while the skies were still clear, he was already prepared when the storm broke. When the winds blew, he was not afraid, and could sleep in peace.

The season of Lent is a time of preparation for us as well. At its end we will observe Maundy Thursday with Communion, commemorating the Last Supper of our Lord, and our Service of Darkness of Good Friday, remembering the crucifixion of our Lord. What a fearsome storm those events must have been to the disciples and to those who knew Jesus best.

This year during Lent, as is our custom, we will consider intentional prayer, perhaps fasting, and giving up something for the season as a symbol of self-denial. These are acts of personal spiritual discipline, meant to heighten our awareness of what Christ suffered for our salvation. I'd like to echo what our Evangelism Committee is recommending as a spiritual discipline during Lent: Each and every day during Lent, either give up one thing or give away one thing. What to give up? Perhaps a grudge held onto for years, an attitude we know is displeasing to God, a personal habit which we know is bad for our health or well-being; letting go of resentment over a wrong someone committed against us. And what can we give away? How about each day being intentional about giving away a word of encouragement or comfort, an act of kindness, a smile to a stranger, a helping hand to someone struggling? These are things that will help us prepare our hearts for Holy Week and Easter. Why not let this be your Lenten Covenant with God? See if God doesn't bless you as you do this, even as you become a blessing to someone else each day.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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April 2011: "I Am the Resurrection and the Life …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus lived in Bethany, within easy walking distance of Jerusalem. Dear friends of Jesus, they often provided food and shelter for him and his disciples whenever they traveled to Jerusalem. One day, Lazarus became sick, and Mary and Martha grew ever more concerned about him as his illness progressed. Knowing that on several occasions Jesus had healed people of their diseases, and feeling as though this sickness might very well take their brother's life, they sent word to Jesus. Jesus received the message that Lazarus was sick, and that the sisters were deeply troubled and concerned. Would he come?

Jesus waited until two days later to take the journey to their home in Bethany. He told his disciples where they were going, and they objected out of fear for his life. They had recently fled with him from the region of Judea where Bethany was located. He nevertheless told them that Lazarus had "fallen asleep" and he was going to awaken him. He knew that Lazarus had died, and finally said that to his disciples plainly, and indicated that what was about to happen, would happen so they would believe. Believe in what? Little did they realize at the time that he was referring to his own death and resurrection, and that they needed to know that the power of God was sufficient to defeat death.

When they approached Bethany, someone in the large crowd that had come together to console the sisters called out to them that Jesus was approaching. Martha went outside to meet him, while Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus that if he had come earlier, she knew that Lazarus would not have died. When Jesus replies that her brother will live again, she affirms her belief in a general resurrection in the last day, but Jesus wants her to understand something far more profound — "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live!"

Note that Jesus uses the present tense — "I AM!" (which is also the name of God). When we place our faith and trust in him, the promise of resurrection and eternal life becomes a present reality in our lives. In other words, our eternal life has already started! He continues by saying to Martha " ... and he who believes in me shall never die." Jesus knew that everyone who heard that statement would one day experience physical death. But eternal life begins for us the moment we believe that He is the Son of God and died for our sins.

Well, the end of the story about Lazarus finds Jesus moving to the tomb, having the stone rolled away, and then crying out with a loud voice and saying, "Unbind him and set him free." That's what our faith in him does for us. We believe, and he sets us free from the penalty of sin, sets us free from the guilt of sins in the past. He invites us to new life when he invites us to believe.

This is the affirmation of Easter — Because he lives, I can live also, and forever! I pray you will have a blessed Easter, and hope to see you at Sunrise service at 6:30 and at our Easter Morning Service at 10;45 on April 24th when our Choir will present their Easter Cantata!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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May 2011: "May Poles, Homecoming, and Memorial Day"

Dear Friends in Christ,

The May Pole Celebration

One of my most vivid childhood memories was the "May Pole Celebration" at William Jennings Bryan Elementary School in North Miami, Florida, where I was a student. A two-story structure, the school was built around an interior courtyard where special events were held. In May, a "May pole" was erected in the courtyard, with scores of ribbons streaming down from the top of the pole. We spent hours practicing how to move around the May Pole, each student with a ribbon in hand, weaving in and out with one another until we had formed a lattice-work of ribbons. When May Day finally arrived, parents came to see the May Day celebration and watched us weave our brightly colored ribbons around the pole, accompanied by lively music. That was what we probably enjoyed most about May Day!

The history of the May Pole in Europe among the Germanic peoples goes as far back as the Iron Age. With origins in pagan worship the May Pole gradually evolved to mean different things in different cultures, and here in the United States it fell out of favor during the time of the Puritans for obvious reasons. Gradually, the observance re-emerged as a celebration of spring and a time for praying that crops would eventually yield a good harvest.

Homecoming

This year on May 1st (May Day), we at Rehobeth will be celebrating our 222nd year! That to me is amazing! For over two hundred years, the men and women of Rehobeth have been committed to being faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, and have proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ for nearly ten generations! Among the clergy who have preached the Gospel here are Bishop Francis Asbury from colonial times and our own, present-day Bishop Larry Goodpaster.

This year our Homecoming Speaker will be the Reverend Doctor Lillie Madison Jones, the District Superintendent of the Lake Norman District of which Rehobeth is a part. After having a distinguished career in education, Dr. Jones became a United Methodist Minister and brings a wealth of insight and knowledge to serving Christ and the Church. The service will be followed by a covered dish luncheon in the Fellowship Hall. I do hope each of you will be able to come and celebrate Homecoming with us this year.

Memorial Day

We'll wrap the month up with our Memorial Day celebration on May 29, a time when we express our deepest appreciation for the men and women in our military who have given "the last full measure of devotion" to serving their country. Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." On Memorial Day we will remember their sacred sacrifice and give thanks to God.

I'll look forward to seeing you in worship during this marvelous month of May!

Yours in Christ,

Bob

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June 2011: "When God's People Gather at the Lake"

Dear Friends in Christ,

June is a wonderful time of the year. It marks the beginning of summer vacation from school for our young people; families plan vacations, folks enjoy activities on the lake, and a special group of people take a journey from over 1100 places in western North Carolina to gather at another lake for several days of meetings. The lake, of course, is Lake Junaluska, and the gathering is Annual Conference. As many of the members of our church come from denominational backgrounds other than United Methodist, I thought I would take this opportunity to explain what Annual Conference is.

We have over 1,100 churches in the Western North Carolina Conference, which extends from just the other side of Greensboro to the Tennessee line, and is bound north and south by Virginia and South Carolina. Each of those churches has a minister and a lay person who attend Annual Conference to represent their local congregations. Annual Conference is punctuated by inspiring worship services, the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and reconnecting with old friends that people may see only once at year at Annual Conference. So it is a time of spiritual inspiration and revitalization, a time for celebrating and strengthening our connection to each other as the Body of Christ.

Annual Conference is also a time when we engage in "holy conferencing" about issues that profoundly affect the church and its ministry in the world. We vote on legislation, set the budget for the next year, and this year we will be electing delegates to represent us at General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference, which meet every four years. Southeast Jurisdictional Conference is always held at Lake Junaluska as well, and this is the conference when new Bishops are elected. General Conference is the gathering of all world United Methodism, and this conference deals with doctrinal and legal issues and with proposed changes to the Book of Discipline, our book of church law that governs virtually everything we do in the life of the church. The location of this world-wide conference always changes, and is always held within the boundaries of the United States.

So, how can we all participate in these gatherings? By prayerfully undergirding our delegates to Annual Conference June 9-12. The issues that face us are significant in these difficult economic times, as Annual Conference delegates discuss with each other the ways we can be good stewards of our resources while remaining vibrant and effective in our outreach and response to others. So pray for your delegate, Mike Bostic, that he might have the wisdom, insight, and courage to speak up when "holy conferencing" is taking place at Lake Junaluska. He is your voice among the people of God gathered at the Lake. And pray that in all things, God's will for the church and her ministries will be expressed in the things that are agreed upon. We are connected to each other, all 1100+ of our local congregations, and that connection is the organizational strength that undergirds our mission and ministries in the world. So pray, too, that our connection will remain strong.

Yours in Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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July 2011: "Against Improbable Odds …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

While Mike Bostic represented our congregation at Annual Conference, I had the opportunity (and the Bishop's permission) to attend the first ever Songwriters Intensive Workshop, sponsored by Gloria Gaither and held at the Gaither Resource Center in Alexandria, Indiana. The workshop was Thursday evening through Sunday morning, and what an unexpected blessing it turned out to be for me.

Having written scores of song over the years, I thought the Gaither Songwriters Intensive Workshop would be a great opportunity to hone my songwriting skills and help in creating songs that might be a greater blessing to those who hear them. Little did I realize that I was going to receive far more than I bargained for in the process. It became a time of genuine spiritual renewal for many of us, as everything about the workshop was Christ-centered. What you may have seen of the Gaither Family Gatherings on television is a true representation of how these folks live and relate to each other and to those who come into their presence. Their love for the Lord is palpable — you can feel it. And their love for others, especially the heartbroken, the lost and suffering, is genuine. Their humor is spontaneous and their songwriting craft is something they approach with reverence, humility, and gratitude for the gift of inspiration.

Each presenter takes his or her craft seriously. If I were to summarize the attitude that typified each of them, it would be that they perceive that what has been given to them is a sacred trust, and that sacred trust requires them to bring their best efforts to the table when it comes to crafting a song that will attempt to share the beauty and majesty of a God who loves us with a love we can barely comprehend. We see that love most clearly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Destiny Rambo McGuire has a new song out entitled "Old Lady Grace," depicting an old lady sitting beside the road inviting passersby to enter and share table fellowship and rest with her. What a wonderful metaphor for the grace of God extended to each of us. Andrew Peterson is a remarkable young man with a huge talent. I would recommend that you Google "YouTube Andrew Peterson Queen of Iowa"on your computer and listen to a remarkable story and the exquisite song that was born of that story. Buddy Greene, who wrote the music for Mark Lowery's "Mary Did You Know," is not only a talented songwriter but an absolutely awesome harmonica player. You can find him on YouTube as well. Donny McGuire and his wife, Reba Rambo McGuire, shared their story with us and gave us helpful suggestions about crafting our songs. And of course, Gloria Gaither is an extraordinary poet and passed some knowledge on to us that already has me changing phrases in some of the songs I have written! Bill's humor was contagious, and his passion about writing songs about God's love and grace often moved him — and us — to tears.

For me, though the sharing of all this information will be helpful to me, the openness and candor of each presenter as they shared their personal stories of how God has been moving and transforming them was inspirational beyond description. I left feeling as though I had been surrounded by God's love and grace for three days and a night. I know Gloria meant for this to be a workshop, but I wonder, was that just a disguise for an opportunity to reconnect with God's love and grace on a deeper personal level? I wouldn't put it past her …

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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August 2011: "That Great Cloud of [Expert] Witnesses …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

July held a troubling and intriguing experience for the millions of people who watched the Casey Anthony trial unfold. During those weeks of judicial procedure, one witness after another came to testify for either the prosecution or the defense, and one motion was frequently heard from both sides ... a motion that the person on the stand be recognized as "an expert witness." An expert witness is generally someone who has had a lot of experience in a certain field about which they are being questioned, and the court recognizes that what that witness is about to say has significant knowledge and authority behind it. If the witness is an "expert," then the testimony is held to be more persuasive.

The New Testament speaks of believers being surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses." These are the men and women of old who held fast to their faith in Jesus Christ even in times of great persecution when they were being imprisoned or even put to death for believing that Jesus was the Son of God and had died for their sins. That makes them "expert" witnesses!

I've been asked to bring the morning message at Camp Meeting at Balls Creek on Sunday morning, August 28. A long-standing tradition, Camp Meeting has been going on in our area since Rehobeth's {founding} pastor, Daniel Asbury, was instrumental in first starting the experience back in the earliest days of our nation's history. Sawdust was spread on the floor and tents were erected all around the central speaking area. And power preaching took place as the spirit of God moved in the hearts of believers and unbelievers. Lively singing was a feature of the event as well, and thousands of people over the years came to faith in Christ at Camp Meeting, whether at Balls Creek or Rock Spring.

Today the tents have been replaced with wooden structures, more durable and a bit more comfortable, with electricity and other amenities as well. But the gathering is still marked by preaching, praying, singing, and the presence of the Holy Spirit as God's people gather together in these historic settings. But have you realized that when folks gather for Camp Meeting, they are also surrounded by that "great cloud of witnesses?" The author of Hebrews refers to those faithful folks who had persevered to the end this way:

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith …

This is true not only of Camp Meeting, but whenever we gather for worship at Rehobeth as well. For generations, men and women have worshipped here, been baptized here, married here, and buried here. All testify to the truth of a life of faith in Christ, all have inherited the rich promises of God's eternal kingdom, and their witness surrounds us ever time we set foot on this holy ground. Think about it: that lays a burden on each of our shoulders to continue as faithful followers of Jesus Christ, for one day we, too, will be numbered among that "great cloud of witnesses!"

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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September 2011: "Remembering September 11 …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Event

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center complex and the Pentagon, and the crash of Flight 93 in a field in Pennsylvania, in the worst attack on American soil in our history. In the subsequent decade, well over 5,000 men and women in our armed forces have also lost their lives in the "international war on terror." Additionally, the numbers of people in intelligence agencies who have been working around the clock to protect us against additional attacks is staggering, and I suspect we do not know the full scope of the number of plots that have been disrupted and thwarted by their efforts. We have been safe due to their vigilance and efforts and the sacrifices made by our military and their families.

Heroic Images from September 11

All of us have vivid memories of the images of firefighters rushing up the stairs to help people escape from the fiery inferno above, rescue personnel trying to get their breath while surrounded by thick, billowing ash in the air as they attended the wounded and dying; first responders and law enforcement rushing toward the carnage while others fled, only to lose their own lives in the effort to save others.

Closer to home, we interact with these same people who put their lives on the line for us every day — first responders, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and law enforcement. And it is important for us to say "Thank you!" to them. This year, September 11 falls on a Sunday. In both of our services we will focus on their service to our community and their willingness to risk their own lives for our safety and well-being. We have invited local units to attend the 10:45 AM worship service as our special guests. We will present each of them with a certificate of appreciation from the Rehobeth Congregation and after the service, pavilion tents will be out on the front lawn with refreshments so that all of us will have an opportunity to say "thank you." I hope you will make every effort to be with us that day, for these are the people we call on in the event of a life-threatening emergency, and they need to know how much we value and appreciate what they are willing to do for us.

Our Prayers for Peace

As we honor these men and women, let us also continue to pray for peace among the nations of the world and let us continue to pray for the leaders of those nations, that the prophecies of Isaiah might one day come to fulfillment:

"… and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more."
(Isaiah 2:4b)

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Note: Read Bob's sermon from the September 11, 2011 service, Greater Love Has No One than This ….

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October 2011: "The Changing Seasons of the Soul"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Well, it's just around the corner — autumn! Here in North Carolina many of us celebrate the changing of the season with a pilgrimage to the foothills or mountains to see the changing colors of the autumn leaves. Some years the colors are not so brilliant, depending on what the weather's been. But then there are those other years ... the ones when the beauty and splendor of God's creation burst forth in dazzling arrays of color! We take picture after picture, hoping to capture that beauty, but the pictures never seem to do justice to what we are seeing in nature.

I remember a particular maple tree I would always pass on the way to the office at the church I was serving at the time, and every year during the autumn it would glow a bright golden color as the leaves changed. I could see it from a long way off. I thought, "What exquisite beauty! God did that!"

Of course, after these splashes of color have entertained us, the leaves begin to fall, and winter soon follows. It has its own unique beauty as well, at least before the snow melts and turns to mud! and the promise of spring then begins to stir in our hearts, when all the earth seems to spring forth with resurrected life and we find ourselves surrounded with still more of the beauty in God's creation. The kids are all ready soon after for summer to come, with vacations, a slower pace, and fun of all kinds. And then, the cycle repeats itself all over.

I'd like you to consider that there are also seasons of the soul. There are times when our spirits soar and we feel we can do anything, and life is full of beauty and wonder. As we grow older, the seasons of the soul change for us as well. We move from that exuberant spring into the years of hard work, providing for needs, raising children, accomplishing some of the goals we've set for ourselves (who, indeed, accomplishes them all?). And then autumn sets in, we slow down a bit, begin to reassess our lives, and looking back over them, find things that have lifted our spirits, challenges that have been met, disappointments we've grown beyond, and we are able to celebrate the beauty that has attended us on our journey, like gathering our grandchildren around us and sharing our stories with them. Eventually, winter comes to the soul. We struggle with infirmities, diseases, diminished capacities. Winter brings its own challenges. But, just like in nature, winter passes. And we are born again into the spring of eternal life, the beauty of which we cannot begin to imagine!

Being in touch with the season we live in is so important to living a grace-filled life. For, though each season of the soul has its own challenges, each has its own indescribable beauty as well. I pray that whatever season you may be in, God's love and Grace will be present in your daily experience and you'll be able to see the beauty that is around you and within. It's a beauty no camera can adequately record.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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November 2011: "Fiddling with Traditions and the Famous Rehobeth Bar-B-Que!"

Dear Friends in Christ,

I think it's one of the greatest musical productions ever. "Fiddler on the Roof" is a vivid story of a family struggling to adapt as their world is caught up in cultural changes. In particular, the head of that family, Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman, finds himself having to come to terms wit the tension between his Jewish religious traditions and the changing times swirling around his family as the Tsar of Russia orders all Jews are to be evicted from their village. Tevye and his wife, Golde, have five daughters and as his three oldest daughters make decisions that move them further and further away from those traditions, he becomes increasingly troubled by what he's seeing happening to his world and to the traditions that have defined him all his life.

His daughters want to marry for love, rather than to accept prearranged marriages that are put together by "the matchmaker" in their village. Another daughter falls in love with a young revolutionary and again, Tevye struggles with this breech of tradition. As he and his wife lay in bed one night, she says to him, "Love, it's the new style." That of course leads into his song, "Do you love me?" for after all, their marriage was arranged by a matchmaker. In a moving scene, having turned his back on one of his daughters (Chava) for her breech of tradition in wanting to marry a non-Jew, he sings, "Tradition!" then looking back over his shoulder at her, muses, "Yet she loves him …"

With time, traditions always undergo some transformation. Life is a series of transitions and transformations, and being able to cope with those changes directly affects our sense of well-being in life. One tradition that we continue to celebrate here at Rehobeth is the annual November Bar-B-Que! But it, too, has undergone some transitions this year. We have T-Shirts! With Bar-B-Que pit and flames emblazoned on the front and back, the result of design work from our Communications Committee. And for the first time, we have a Bar-B-Que Committee.

When my wife, Linda, and I first arrived at Rehobeth, we were told that the Bar-B-Que would take place the second weekend in November, and I kept waiting for the announcement that a committee meeting was scheduled to organize everything. No announcements were forthcoming, and I was absolutely amazed at how it all came together. Folks who had been working to make the Bar-B-Que a success had been doing so for years, and everyone just knew what their jobs were. Tradition had set in. And it worked. Now, however, some of those saints have been called home to heaven and others are unable to help as much as in past years. So, a committee was formed for the first time for this year's Bar-B-Que, and we're hoping that more and more, our younger adults will sign on to keep this traditional fundraiser exciting, fun, and successful. So, if you haven't had the experience of working at the Bar-B-Que, you're missing a real treat. The fellowship is fantastic and you'll get to know some of your fellow church members better as well. There is a sign-up sheet each weekend in the bulletin where you can indicate where you'd like to help. So fill it out, jump on board, and be a part of the team that establishes today's new Bar-B-Que traditions!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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December 2011: "People of the Story"

Dear Friends in Christ,

From the most ancient of times, people have been story tellers. A good story teller was a valued member of a tribe, clan, or family group. Long before the written word, oral traditions carried the history of a people forward to successive generations. This is true of all ancient civilizations, and certainly was true of ancient Israel. Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, we are aware of how that holiday is also celebrated by the telling of the story of the Pilgrims and all they suffered in the 1600s when they came to the new world seeking religious freedom, a story that includes the very first Thanksgiving celebration..

Some time ago, I sent word to all of our children that it was time for them all to come home to celebrate Thanksgiving. That year, we sat around the table after eating a delicious meal Linda had prepared and reminisced about old times. Stories were told and even a confession or two was offered. (They figured they were too old to be punished for the infraction and it was safe to "'fess up!") We laughed until we nearly cried as we relived those earlier years. It was a memorable time for us all as we celebrated our story as a family.

As we begin the Advent season, our children and youth are preparing a Christmas musical drama, our Chancel Choir is preparing a cantata, the Rehobeth Ringers are preparing handbell music, and we are planning worship services all with one singular purpose — to retell the greatest story ever told1 We are a people of "The Story" — the story that begins with angelic visits to Mary and Joseph, and then to shepherds on a hillside outside of Bethlehem; the appearance of a bright star in the heavens leading wise men to the manger, bringing their gifts of fold, frankincense, and myrrh. We, as people of The Story, know how the rest of the story goes. Our faith is expressed in the stories about Jesus' ministry, and finally of his death and resurrection. For over two thousand years, that story has been told in poems, songs, and beautiful artistic renderings all around the world. What would our celebration of Christmas be liked without our story telling? Just liked that Thanksgiving gathering I mentioned, families gather at Christmas to share their stories as well, and their joy is increased in the telling.

I suspect each of us has a favorite story about Christmas. Mine is the Christmas when all the presents had been opened, or so I thought. Mother and Papa informed us there was one present yet to be opened and it was for me, but I would have to find it. I looked all over, and just couldn't find an unopened present anywhere! They then asked if I had checked out the Paper Mache snowman they had made, which stood beside the piano. When I turned it over, there I found a false bottom, opened it up, and hidden inside was my very first guitar! Let me invite you to reflect on your favorite Christmas memory as we approach December 25th. Each of us in our own way is adding the story every year. This year, make your family's Christmas celebration special in some memorable way. Later, when there's an empty place at Christmas dinner, those memories will comfort and sustain you, and you'll be contributing to the oral tradition your family passes down from generation to generation. For you are not ust a story teller — you and your loved ones are part of "The Story" itself!

Linda and I would like to wish each of you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, praying that God will bless you with Hope, Joy, Peace, and most of all — Love!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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Rehobeth United Methodist Church • 9297 Sherrills Ford Road • P.O. Box 356 • Terrell, NC 28682
Copyright © 2011 Robert L. Kerr, D.Min
Used by permission