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From the Pastor's Pen — 2016 Archive
 




Bob

 Bob Kerr

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January 2016: "Way Points in the New Year"

Dear Friends in Christ,

What a wonderful time we've had throughout Advent and Christmas as we celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! The music was such a blessing to all of us, the special music in our worship services by the praise team, the choir, and the special numbers by duets and trios! And of course the cantata is always the high point on our musical celebration of the birth of Jesus. And now, we enter into 2016!

My One Regret

I have often said that my one regret in life is that I never received a private pilot's license! I went through ground school years ago and as often happens with Methodist ministers, I was moved by the Bishop before completing it. Every time the local airport flight school offered a promotional ad to come and for 45 fly with an instructor and then consider working toward a private pilot's license, I'd go, pay my money, and fly for about twenty minutes with the instructor—which was exhilarating for me—and then I'd tell him I'd think about it…but alas, never finished it all up.

Way Points

One of the things I did learn in ground school was how to use "way points." These were locations with beacons that beamed out their coordinates. You can set your instruments to head for a certain way point and it will guide you along the way to your journey's destination. When you arrive at one "way point" you enter in the next one, and that carries you still closer to your destination. It's a wonderful way to keep from drifting and losing your way over a long, cross-country flight. That's a good way to look at the importance of setting goals for the New Year in our spiritual growth and development. Personal devotions, the reading of scripture, intentional prayer—these are significant "way points" or goals for us to set. And then also set a "way point" for compassionate service as well, something that will bless another's life. Our Baptismal Covenant Renewal Service in the New Year will be a wonderful starting point for us.

A Way Point for the Church

A significant "way point" for us in the church this year will be the building of the Family Life Center, a mission project to replace the existing fellowship hall and prepare for future growth. As you set goals for the year, prayerfully consider what you can do to support this mission. We really encourage everyone to consider the possibility of the $1-per-day goal, which will more than meet our obligations. The Family Life Center committee has been working diligently with the architects to complete the detailed construction drawings and cost estimates for presentation to the congregation (a way point for us!), and we are excited about having that ready soon. It has required prayerful vision for the future, a deep commitment by our people, and confidence that the Lord will bless this effort as well. Having been with you into the tenth year now, I am of the firm conviction that the remarkable congregation known as Rehobeth can accomplish anything the Lord places in our hearts to accomplish!

Finally, I want to wish each of you and your loved ones a New Year filled with love, happiness, and good health—but most of all, an ever-closer walk with your Lord Jesus Christ! It remains a blessing to me to be able to in ministry with you!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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February 2016: "The Special Thing About February…"

Dear Friends in Christ,

February approached with an indication that we might actually end up paying for that mild Christmas and early January weather we had! Temperatures dropped, and we had a touch of snow the third Sunday of last month. But that's the beauty of living in North Carolina—we get a little bit of everything in the way of weather, and none is too severe for too long. Of course, February brings the Super Bowl as well, which is an exciting contest that has become enshrined in our culture.

Saying "I Love You"

With February comes Valentine's Day too, and if husbands are smart, thieve already gone out and found that perfect card to give to their wives, and some kind of special gift that says "I love you." (Wives are generally better at remembering these things—and make us husbands "pay" if we forget!) At the heart of Valentine's Day, of course, is the celebration of a love. We give Valentines to each other to say "I love you," but how might we give a Valentine to God?

There is a wonderful text in the Bible that quotes Jesus as saying: "By this all men will know you are mine, by the love you have for one another." That gives us a pretty clear idea of how to say "I love you" to God. Of course we can say that in our prayers, as well we should. But by loving each other, being there for one another (even the stranger at the door), we let others see God's love for them through us. It must please God no end when we remember the covenant of love we have with each other, in our marriages, and in our church family. It is the way we demonstrate our love for God.

The Bible tells us that "we love because he first loved us and gave himself for us" in Jesus Christ. He is the source of our love for each other.

Love in Action…

Others often judge the authenticity of our Christian faith by the love we have for others. The first Sunday of the New Year, I mentioned in the morning message that none of us knew for sure what might be ahead of us in the coming days, but one thing we could be sure of was that God would be there for us—no matter what. Already we have seen the kind of mix the new year will hold for our loved ones as some are embracing a fight against cancer, others are struggling with relationships, others are fearful of a job loss and more. But there are also weddings being planned, the birth of new life anticipated by expectant mothers, fathers, and grandparents. And already I have seen the love of Christ in many of you as you put love into action in concrete terms. Already you are there encouraging, lifting up, praying for those who are facing new challenges and fighting illness and disease. Already you are there to comfort and encourage those who are struggling in their personal lives. Already you are there prayerfully lifting up that as-yet-unborn baby soon to arrive the in spring, undergirding and celebrating the victories and blessings in each other's lives.

So as we move through the month of February, let me invite each of us to reflect on how well we love one another and how that love reflects our love for God the Father. Wouldn't it be the best Valentine ever if in all his children, God could see us loving each other as He has loved us all?

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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March 2016: "The Promise in Easter"

Dear Friends in Christ,

After Jesus' crucifixion, the disciples huddled in fear in the upper room, thinking that perhaps those who had orchestrated the death of their master would come for them next. I don't really think a single one of them had any idea what was really coming next — resurrection and eternal life!

A Promise Nearly Forgotten

As I pondered this, I remembered the text that tells us Jesus embedded a promise in a statement he made to Peter. You remember Peter — always running two or three steps ahead of Jesus, always the first to exuberantly declare Jesus to be the Christ, to declare he would never deny him. The only one to draw a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane to defend Jesus from those who had come to arrest him. But also the one who denied even knowing him in the courtyard when he was asked by a campfire if he was a follower...

Well, in Matthew's gospel, chapter 26 beginning with verse 31, Jesus speaks to Peter and predicts that he — and all the others — will "fall away" from him. But then he adds, "But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you to Galilee" (v. 32). Peter seems to have missed hearing the promise in that statement. Instead, he replies that he would never fall away or deny him. And of course, when they were hiding in fear after the crucifixion, no on mentioned that promise of resurrection or the promise that he would meet them again in Galilee.

The promise is for us as well as for them…

I think sometimes in the midst of life's most challenging and heartbreaking situations, it's easy for us also to miss or forget the promise in Jesus' resurrection. Jesus was telling Peter, not only would his Lord be victorious over the grave, but that Peter would be forgiven and that he would still have a part in the work of the Kingdom. Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the promise of resurrection is that God will be with us as we journey through that valley, and that eternal life awaits all the children of God. If we stumble and fall, God is willing to forgive the repentant heart and restore us to right relationship with him. If we feel alone and fear that what we face will overwhelm us, God promises, "Lo, I will be with you always." Death does not have the last say. God does. He will be our strength and shield, and at the end of our days, will bring us home to our eternal life. That's a promise God has made to you, and to me, and to all who believe! Have a Happy and Joyous Easter!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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April 2016: "Spring's Great Promise"

Dear Friends in Christ,

I love the spring of the year! The spring of the year is nature's wonderful reminder of the promise of resurrection and new life! By the time spring rolls around, we've pretty well tired of the bare branches on trees and yards devoid of colorful flowers. And we're ready for those frosty mornings and overcast days of winter to transition into sunshine, blooming flowers, and the lush green that thickens the woods, lawns, and the trees in our yards.

What Does God Teach Us in Nature?

So what is God revealing to us in nature when spring rolls around? First, I think, is that God has created a world of infinite variety and beauty. And that includes the crown of creation—you and me! We humans come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, just as our world is splendored by the infinite varieties of blossoms and flowers surrounding us. Each has a beauty all its own. If there were only one kind and one color of flower, the landscape would be so bland, wouldn't it? And if every person were exactly like every other person, how bored we would eventually get! Beauty in nature comes from its variety, and so it is with us. We love one another because we recognize the uniqueness in every person, each a child of God, created in God's own image.

Second, God teaches us in nature that life is comprised of cycles. In that beautiful "Hymn of Promise," don't you love that line that says, In the bulb there is a flower, in the seed an apple tree, in cocoons a hidden promise, butterflies will soon be free; in the cold and snow of winter, there's a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There are also seasons of the soul and cycles of life we all experience, from infancy to childhood, from adolescence to adulthood, from maturity to old age. But, as the "Hymn of Promise" continues to remind us, In our end is our beginning, in our time, infinity; in our doubt there is believing, in our life eternity; in our death a resurrection, at the last a victory, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. The Resurrection of our Lord, which we just celebrated during Easter, is God's promise to each of us that in whatever seasons we find ourselves, God is present with us, God's love and grace are sufficient for our needs, and wherever we are on the journey, the best is yet to come. Our life in Him is always full of promise and possibility—and admittedly, sometimes it seems that's something God alone can see! But that's where Easter faith comes in.

Faith and Trust

We know without a shadow of doubt that God loves us with a deep and passionate love (we see that in the gift of God's Son, Jesus). So even though we don't always understand why things happen as they do, this God of love, grace, and promise is always with us. We not only believe in Him, we trust him with our every tomorrow, and with the next season that awaits us. May God bless you as you place your continuing faith and trust in His love for you.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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May 2016: "This Busy Month of May"

Dear Friends in Christ,

May is perhaps one of the busiest months for us here at Rehobeth! We have Homecoming on the first Sunday, our Pentecost Celebration on the third Sunday, commissioning Natalie Gray as our VIM missionary to Alaska on the fourth Sunday, and our Memorial Day Service on the last Sunday! And everywhere in between, we'll be praying for the General Conference of The United Methodist Church meeting in Portland, Oregon, May 10-20. In addition, we're hoping to move forward another step nearer to our Family Life Center Mission project start as well!

What to Pray for Before and During General Conference

The General Conference of the UMC meets every four years. This is the gathering of delegates from Methodism from all around the world! Unfortunately, even our own Bishop has said, the gathering has become quite contentious over recent years. So the very first thing we want to pray for is a genuine spirit of "holy conferencing," so that delegates might experience and exemplify what the Scriptures call "a spirit of unity in the bond of peace." Intelligent, spirit-led discernment will be essential in every delegate, in every conversation. So pray also for an openness to that leadership in each delegate. Finally, pray that the delegates will be able to discern clearly between the leadership of the Spirit and cultural coercion. The Scriptures tell us that we are to be "in the world." but not "of the world." Above all, pray that God's will may be clearly discerned and that our Church will remain unified in the cause of Christ and the Kingdom.

Celebrating 227 Years at Homecoming!

Beth Moore McKeithan will be our Homecoming Speaker, and we're excited about hearing her message. As usual, we'll have great singing, wonderful music, and following the service, a delicious meal in the fellowship hall. Plan now to be here and invite Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances, and Neighbors!

Pentecost and the Power of the Spirit

Banners will adorn the sanctuary and we will celebrate the birth of the Church in the Power of the Spirit, the same Spirit we are praying will guide our delegates at General Conference! The service will include enthusiastic singing and a message on—you guessed it—The Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit does for us and through us.

Memorial Day Celebration

Finally, the last Sunday of the month we will honor those men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the military service to the country—which means service to you and me. They keep us safe and they deserve to be honored. Don't miss this special service.

I hope to see you a lot during this "busy month of May!"

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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June 2016: "The Lazy Days of Summer?"

Dear Friends in Christ,

I think it's a bit of a misnomer: the lazy days of summer. If June is any indication, this summer will be busier than ever, with great opportunities for a wide variety of experiences. The first weekend, we'll be honoring graduates; the second week, I'll be at Gloria Gaither's Songwriters workshop in Indiana; the third week, we'll meet with other delegates at Lake Junaluska for Annual Conference; Youth Sunday will be at the end of that week, followed by Vacation Bible School! And the Youth will continue preparing for their mission trip in July. Whew! So much for "lazy days!"

Our Family Life Center Mission Project

We are also hopeful that in June we'll have received bids on our Family Life Center Mission Project and will be ready to make a final presentation to the congregation for a final vote on moving ahead with replacing the existing fellowship hall with a facility that will equip the church for another 60 years or more! The responses of our people to this project have been marvelous so far and we're so excited about getting close to seeing it come to fruition! We really want to encourage everyone to consider the $1-per-day pledge opportunity as well. If just 100 giving units sign on for that alone, along with the planned supplement from the portfolio, we're in good shape for meeting the obligation we will have to pay off. I've already committed to that myself and feel good writing that check each month to such a worthy investment in the future of our church!

Recent Pastoral Letter About the Budget

Most of you reading this column have received a pastoral letter from me recently, regarding the church operating budget. With the loss over the last 18 months of several members called home to heaven, we very prayerfully and thoughtfully lowered this year's budget projections. Even with that, however, our income-to-date is approximately $10,000 less than over the past three years, due to the loss of those dear brothers and sisters in Christ. The budget, of course, undergirds our ministries, covers our operational expenses, and keeps the lights on and the wheels turning! In my letter, I asked if each of us would consider stepping up our support of the budget. I have already done this personally to do my part in keeping the church budget support strong and vital as well. So I pass on the request for you to take a prayerful look at your support of the budget and determine if a slight increase would be possible for you, too. Sometimes this simply involves a closer look at our priorities and rearranging some of them. So give it some thought, some prayer, and let the Lord guide you as you consider this.

Family Vacations and Holiday Experiences

Be faithful to remember one another in prayer as families take vacations this summer. As I told our Youth Director, Natalie, as she and Brian headed out for their first tent-camping experience recently, "Watch out for the bears!" Pray for "traveling mercies" for each other and for safe returns home. And for our children, pray their summers will be joyful and free of injury. And through the summer months, may each of you feel God holding you in the palm of his hand!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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July 2016: "A Month to Pause for Prayer"

Dear Friends in Christ,

A very busy month of June has passed for us here in the Kerr household and the church. With my annual pilgrimage to Gloria Gaither's Songwriting workshop in Indiana and Annual Conference in Lake Junaluska, I've been on the road a lot. In the middle of that, one of our granddaughters was in a serious automobile accident, but is now recovering nicely, and we thank all of you for your prayers on her behalf. Our young people did a moving presentation on Father's Day during worship, our Director of Youth and Children's Ministries, Natalie Gray, spent some time in Alaska with a VIM Building team, and many of you have been on the road, taking summer vacations. Now, as we begin July, schedules are busier than ever. And when we all get that busy, it is especially important to pause for prayer.

July Fourth Celebration

This weekend we'll be celebrating our Declaration of Independence as a nation, and not only should we pray prayers of thanksgiving for the freedoms we enjoy, we need to pray for the safety of folks celebrating the holiday. Pray also for the exercise of good judgment1 The recent loss of our own Captain Bradley Long in a recovery operation in the lake is a reminder that our first responders and medical personnel are at risk when they have to respond - especially on the lake - because someone has exercised poor judgment in their celebrations. So pray also for those first responders and their safety!

Jurisdictional Conference

In July, Jurisdictional Conference comes along. Held once every four years, and beginning July 13, this conference includes the elections and assignments of Bishops. Our own Bishop Larry Goodpaster will be retiring, and by the end of the summer, we will have a new Bishop assigned to the Western North Carolina Conference. So pray for the delegates to the Conference and for the Council of Bishops as they make those assignments, and that the Lord will provide us with solid spiritual leadership in our new Bishop.

Our Family Life Center

We're getting close to making our final decision about our Family Life Center Mission Project! Bids are in and we will be meeting with the District Committee on Church Location and Building this month and will have our last Church Conference to review the detailed plans to approve moving forward with construction. So pray for this endeavor as well!

So there's lots to pray about in July, even as we continue to faithfully pray for one another in Christ.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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August 2016: "Reflections on Surgery Results"

Dear Friends in Christ,

As many of you know, I recently experienced surgery on my right eye to correct some vision problems I had been having, and I have been delighted with the results! The new lens has made an astonishing difference. Always knew my bride was beautiful, but I had no idea! I did try to convince her that I was seeing so clearly, I could see the nails in the studs in the house being built across the street (a slight exaggeration). I've noticed another interesting difference as well…

Seeing Through a Different Lens

Some of you have had similar eye surgeries and I wonder if you noticed what I did these past few days. When I looked at the white wall of the bedroom through the new lens, it was a bright white color. When I closed that eye and looked through the lens of my other eye (the one that hasn't been corrected), the wall appeared off-white ivory, almost pale yellow, as though looking through a lens that has a filter over it. So now Linda is telling me to quit blinking one eye and then the other to check out the difference in colors everywhere! Now, as you know, we preachers tend to find illustrations and examples in every little experience we have and in every little thing we see. So here it comes… How we look at life and what we see there is filtered through a particular lens. Most of us have heard the phrase, "Oh, he looks at everything through rose-colored glasses." So what kind of lens do you look through when you look at life?

Choices and Experiences

That people experience hurt and disappointment, guilt and shame in life is given, due to the fact that none of us is perfect. Some wounds cut deeper than others, some guilt and shame just won't let us go; some experiences are so horrific, we are profoundly affected in our ability to trust in others. So we retreat from life a bit, and look at everything and everyone around us through the lens of our disappointment, grief, or shame. And that affects our ability to see clearly the beauty that surrounds us and the beauty that can be found in others; it affects our willingness to trust each other and God. A child growing up with an abusive or absentee father, for example, will look through the lens of that experience when trying to come to terms with our references to God as our heavenly Father, one who is always there for us, and who loves us with an everlasting love; One who will never abuse us nor abandon us.

Someone who has been deeply wounded by a loved one may look at all of life and at all relationships through the lens of that disappointment. But there is hope!

"Behold, I create all things new!"

That statement from the Bible speaks to the hope that is ours in Christ — new beginnings made possible through the forgiveness, healing, and love God offers us in Christ Jesus our Lord. When we embrace that love, accept that forgiveness, and let God heal our hearts in Christ Jesus, we begin to see life differently — there is a new lens, if you will. I pray that you will be able to look at all of life through the lens of God's great gift of love for you, given in the person of Jesus Christ!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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September 2016: "Opportunities and Challenges for the Fall"

Dear Friends in Christ,

These are exciting times in the life of our Church as we begin construction of the new Family Life Center here at Rehobeth, replacing the old fellowship hall. Let me give you a quick update…

Where We Are Today…

Of course, after a resounding 90% Church Conference vote to approve the beginning of construction, the first thing that needed to be done was getting the old fellowship hall ready for demolition. An incredible group of women and men from the congregation showed up and cleared out the building, cabinets include. Anything that sat on top of our floor tiles, which had to be removed by an asbestos removal company, had to go. Asbestos removal and the certification of clean air was accomplished the week of August 14.

You'll be pleased to know that some of the kitchen equipment will be used in the new facility and other items were donated to places like Habitat and elsewhere. Everything that could be "repurposed" was. The newer furnace from the fellowship hall will replace the aging one that services the sanctuary building.

The Next Step…

Our next steps are clearing the land, removing the old fellowship hall, and beginning site preparation. Beam Construction Company is our contractor.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

While construction is going on over the next 11 to 13 months, we will be doing some creative rescheduling of events that normally are held in the fellowship hall, and our fundraising efforts will continue throughout construction. Both the sanctuary and Connor Recreation Center will be the sites where we have some special events that will serve as fundraisers during construction, and our folks have already been incredibly generous in memorial giving, naming rights, and $1-a-Day campaign.

Eating the Elephant…

We will be mailing out a new packet soon with those opportunities listed in the project brochure. One of the most beneficial things we can do is sign up for the $1-a-Day campaign. Our Finance chairperson is fond of saying that "You can actually eat an elephant if you cut it up in enough small pieces!" The $1-a-Day campaign is one way to do that. It really adds up! I signed up for the $1-a-Day campaign a few months back and would like to encourage you to consider it.

God's Faithful People

One of our older members made the comment, "I don't want my generation to be the first one to fail to equip the church for the next generation's ministry in Christ." Our vision includes both gathering in and reaching out, and this new facility will be a wonderful addition to our resources for doing both. Thanks to the faithfulness of God's people in this place over the generations—including this one—the day will come when the Christians at Rehobeth celebrate 300 years, and then 400 years of mission and ministry in Christ! "To God be ALL the glory!"

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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October 2016: "Believing in the Future…"

Dear Friends in Christ,

It's really interesting to me how songs that you heard when you were young stay with you over the years. One such song for me was "Que Sera, Sera," which translates, "whatever will be, will be." Performed by Doris Day, the words are: Que sera, sera / Whatever will be, will be / The future's not ours to see / Que sera, sera. Of course, implied in those words is a sort of fatalism about the future, and for Christians, our belief in the future goes far deeper than a mere belief in fatalism. In fact, we reject that there is a "fate" at work in the world and in our lives, and instead believe that God is sovereign over all. We reject notions that there is a predetermined series of events that will shape our lives, and acknowledge there is a randomness in life and in the things that happen in the world. Some things are the consequence of sin, but some things just seem to happen. Even the Bible acknowledges this when it declares, In all things, God is working for the good of those who love him. Notice it does not say "all things work together for good…" rather it declares whatever happens, God can be found within circumstances redeeming them for the good of those who love him.

Do We Believe in the Future?

If someone were to ask me that question, my immediate response would be, "I believe in a God who holds me and my future in his hands." Someone once wrote that it is better to walk into the unknown holding the hand of God than to travel a known way without Him. So, I believe in the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who love me so much that he gave his Son for me and promised the Holy Spirit to me. In the practice of my faith - in prayer, seeking God's will, I believe that God leads us into the future, knowing what is coming and preparing us to deal with the as-yet-unseen. The future is filled with uncertainty. With one exception: He is Lord of all and has already won an eternal victory for all who believe through Jesus Christ. He will not leave nor forsake us in any circumstance.

The Future of the Church

When I was in seminary at Duke in the late 60s and early 70s, we studied a book entitled The Church Inside Out, in which the author states that the organized Church's days were numbered and would be replaced by house churches. That was in 1966, 50 years ago, and here we are, still bearing witness to Jesus Christ, still leading people into a saving relationship with him, still embracing missions and ministries of compassion and love in the world beyond the walls of the church. Is the church changing? Certainly. Anything that grows and thrives changes. We just want to be certain that those changes are guided by the Holy Spirit and are in God's will for his people. What a remarkable history we have here at Rehobeth. For over 227 years, God's faithful folk in this place have embraced the future, with all its uncertainty (think civil war, two world wars, the great depression, and subsequent wars and social upheaval, and more), trusting and believing in the God who reigns over us all. And so, we continue to embrace that legacy of faith and confidence about the future in our continuing missions, ministries, and in new facilities for future generations to use. We do so, not because we believe in some kind of fate, but because we believe in a God who holds our future firmly in his hands!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

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November 2016: "Just When I Thought We Could Catch Our Breath and Rest…"

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Month of November

As we roll on into November, it is apparent the good Lord didn't have resting in store for us just yet! The first Saturday we'll be meeting at the Connor Recreation Center for our Community Prayer Breakfast. The first Sunday, we'll be celebrating "All Saints Day" by remembering all the loved ones who have been called home to heaven since last All Saints Day, and that service of remembrance is always so meaningful. We'll be taking our turn each week at the Rosenwald School packing grocery bags for the weekends and we'll be helping replace flood buckets at the Mission Response Center. Our youth team will be preparing the Christmas with Dignity store and the youth and the puppeteers will begin to practice for their parts in the White Gifts Service that will be coming up in December as we celebrate Christmas. Yes, all those preparations begin well before December arrives!

Voting

Ah, yes, that. Tuesday, November 8th, citizens will exercise their constitutional right and obligation to vote for government leadership. There has been huge frustration across the land about the two main choices that will be on the ballot that day for President, and perhaps one of the things we'll feel some relief about is the end of an especially bitter campaign. I can't remember a presidential race in which the fitness of either candidate for this high office was the central consideration that it is this time around. So what is a thoughtful Christian to do? One thing not to do is to fail to vote! Spend a lot of prayer on this one, consider consequential concerns like the Supreme Court nominees and of course the makeup of the House and Senate in the "down ballot" elections. I read recently that the great Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn said back in 1978 that the certain sign of the moral decay of a civilization is its loss of great statesmen. Perhaps that's what we need to pray about going forward: that the Lord will raise up more statesmen and stateswomen than mere politicians! Perhaps then, we'll have better choices.

Ongoing Construction

I hope you've been checking out the church website as we've been posting pictures of the progress on the construction of the new Family Life Center there for everyone to see. If you haven't made a choice about how you'd like to participate in supporting the project financially, let me encourage you to consider the $1-a-day option. I've been doing that since January and it really adds up over time. Feels good to know I have a part in making that resource available to our present and future generations! Memorial giving is another option to prayerfully consider as well. Envelopes for donations are in the narthex next to the artist's rendering of the project.

Thanksgiving

Finally, November is the month when we as Christians, and our nation, give thanks for the blessings we have received. With those blessings come great responsibility, the responsibility to use our blessings to bless others! Linda and I wish all of you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving! You have all certainly been a blessing to us!

Yours in Christ,

Bob

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December 2016: "Christmas at Rehobeth"

Dear Friends in Christ,

A Wondrous Thanksgiving Gift

My wife Linda and I hope that each of you had a meaningful Thanksgiving this past month, as you gathered with family and friends and as you reflected on the many ways God has blessed you. One of the things that I am most thankful for is the prevenient grace we celebrate at Christmas. What exactly is that? It is the phrase we use to describe our conviction that God's Holy Spirit is actively pursuing every individual wherever they are in life's journey, even before they are aware of God's presence at work in them. You'd perhaps be surprised at the number of times I have conversations about prevenient grade with parents who are concerned about a beloved child who seems to be taking a wrong turn in life or who really struggles in one way or another. It is reassuring to parents to know that wherever their child is, whatever battles he or she is fighting, God's Holy Spirit is there -- always: seeking to redeem and reclaim that young life, seeking to reaffirm God's love for that child; offering guidance and strength and courage to take that step that leads to "the next right choice."

Isn't that what we see in the parable of the prodigal son? There's a great phrase in Jesus' parable that says, this young man -- who had taken all of his possessions and squandered them in loose living in a faraway land, turned his back on faith and family, and was now fighting with pigs for something to eat -- "came to himself!" We don't come to ourselves by ourselves. When it finally comes together for us or our loved ones, it does because of the continuing prompting of the Holy Spirit. So this Christmas season, if you have a loved one who is estranged from you and for whom you have been praying, take heart: God knows that loved one's needs and is present with that loved one. You see, everyone out there is someone for whom the Christ Child was born.

Why We Celebrate Christmas at Rehobeth

Throughout these new few weeks, during the advent season, we will be preparing ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ -- God's greatest gift to all the world. I say "to all the world" very intentionally, for even those who do not believe are recipients of blessings through those who do! Many of us memorized the text when we were children: For God so loved the world, he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That means the world and everyone in it, including you and me and all those who have yet to come to acknowledge him as Lord. And when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion, he said he was asking God the Father to send the Holy spirit "to be with us always," with us and those loved ones for whom we so diligently pray. All of our celebrations in Terrell -- Choir Cantata, White Gifts Service, Candlelight Communion, Christmas Sunday worship -- all those celebrations proclaim one eternal message: Christ was born in Bethlehem for you! Rejoice and be glad!

Linda and I would like to wish each of you a
Wonderful Christmas Season!,

Bob

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Rehobeth United Methodist Church • 9297 Sherrills Ford Road • P.O. Box 356 • Terrell, NC 28682
Copyright © 2016 Robert L. Kerr, D.Min
Used by permission