My mother-in-law likes to watch the Hallmark channel on television and is really glued to the screen when Hallmark provides “Christmas in July.” Well, if we can have Christmas in July, why not Thanksgiving in August? I am feeling especially blessed right now.
Mark Twain once told the story about a man who wrote to him when he learned how much Twain had earned for his magazine articles. That was a long time ago; still, Twain made about $5 dollars a word! “Dear Mr. Twain,” the man’s letter began, “Please send me a good word.” Then he folded a $5 bill in with the letter and dropped it in the mail. Soon after, the man received a response. On a single sheet of paper, Twain offered a single word: “Thanks.” Thanks is one of our best words, and it is the word that comes to mind as I think about all that God is doing among us and through us.
Thank you Cheryl and Jonathan and our summer choir for the gift of music, for words and notes that speak to our hearts that comfort and inspire us. Thanks to Suresh Persaud for filling in for me so ably in the pulpit. Thanks to our Board of Deacons for tending to their parish lists and leading us in worship. Thanks to our newly formed search team under the leadership of Willie King. Pray for them as they begin the search for a new pastor. Thanks to our Vacation Bible School team, led by Dee Wells and Lynda Rooney; as I write this, VBS has begun, and it appears to be another wonderful week of learning and fun.
My thanks to all those who have been so hard at work renovating our church kitchen. It is close to completion, and I know that it is going to look just great. It is a real labor of love on their part and we are so grateful for their efforts. Our Board of Trustees has been hard at work providing a new security system for our building, and a new air conditioner for the pastor’s office, for which I am profoundly grateful!
Thanks to Bernard Warren for a new ministry initiative. Bernard, through the Baltimore Faith Based Commission for Behavioral Health, has been busy in Baltimore city for some time, informing and educating clergy and their congregants about behavioral health care needs through “Lunch and Learn” seminars. He is trying to branch out to our area, and the first “Lunch and Learn” seminar will be held on July 26th at MHBC! Already, almost 30 people have signed on. Bernard and I are hopeful that this effort will continue in 2020; the current vision is for six additional seminars.
Thanks to all of our ushers for their service during the summer, and to all of our other teams and boards for their faithfulness in service. Thanks to all for their time, gifts, and treasure during the summer and all year long. My cup runs over when I think of what God has done and is doing through YOU. I believe the best is yet to be. Thank you God, the One from whom all these blessings flow.
Gratefully, Pastor Joel
So, this month we are going to be delving into the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Proverbs is part of what is called Wisdom literature in the Old Testament. During July, our Sunday school classes will be coming together to explore Proverbs in a study entitled, “Wiser Together: Learning to Live the Right Way.” And also during July, I will be sharing messages from Proverbs in worship and these topics can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.
Sue Ann Morrow helpfully suggests that we “Approach Proverbs one at a time, dwell on each one, consider it, think about it, relate it to our experience, argue with it, and probe it for the truth and wisdom to be found.” For example: “Why does the phrase “My son” appear 23 times in Proverbs? Which Proverb still seem wise to us today, and which do not? Picking up on that suggestion, I note that there are 31 chapters in Proverbs and 31 days in July, so I invite you to read one chapter each day in preparation for our time together.
It has been said that the book of Proverbs is the least read portion of scripture; (I would have guessed Numbers) that we pass by it on our way to somewhere else. That is probably true, but unfortunate, for Proverbs can inform our lives and living in important ways as we shall discover. Proverbs are more than a collection of wise, pithy sayings. They are instructions from God to his people. Just a sampling:
Contemporary proverbs can often be found in our culture. We might see them on the Web, in music, cartoons, or advertising; and I suspect that we live by them more than we may realize. You might be looking for some of these pithy modernisms in preparation for our July emphasis.
Enough said for now. I think this will be fun, and a great way to start off our summer together. Proverbs is witty, wise, and practical, revealing some of the principals that make life work best. I hope you will participate in our study and in worship each week in July!
Love in Christ, Joel
The story is told of a young man who was about to graduate from high school. He was the valedictorian and had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. The day before graduation, he was called into the principal’s office and the principal said to him, “Well, you’ve done it; you made valedictorian. Congratulations. So what are your plans for the future?” The young man said, “Well, I plan to go on to college and get my degree.” “Great,” said the principal. “What then?” “I guess then I’ll go on to med school and become a doctor.” “What then?” “I plan to get married, have children, and pursue my career.” “What then?” said the principal? “I would like to travel the world.” “What then?” And the young man thought for a few seconds and said, “Well, I guess then I’ll die.” And the principal said, “What then?” That story speaks to me of the power of purpose.
In Matthew 28, the disciples were filled with joy. Post-resurrection, Jesus had told them to go to a mountain. There they saw him, and there they received a message to take to the world. Jesus gave them a great challenge when he said to them, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” They had their marching orders. They possessed the power of a great purpose. Jesus had given them a mission to do, but he also told them he would always be with them. Their mission is our mission. We are called to tell the good news of Jesus so that others can become his followers too.
Another Easter has come and gone and what a joy-full experience it was! We proclaimed the best news in the world; Jesus Christ has risen, he has risen indeed. Now it is our purpose, our joy, and our calling to share that life-giving good news of Easter with others. I encourage us all to invite and bring an un-churched person with you each Sunday morning. Make a phone call! Visit and invite a neighbor! Use Facebook to extend an invitation for a friend or acquaintance to come and visit our church family where they too can find purpose for their lives.
I remember reading once that the biggest difference between Christians and non-Christians is that non-Christians “just don’t know yet.” Know what? That Jesus is Lord, and they won’t know until someone tells them or shows them. What a great purpose; to live in such a way that people will wonder what our secret is and want to join us.
D.T. Niles once wrote, “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” More people are likely to visit a church if they receive a personal invitation from someone they know. Jesus Christ is the answer to deepest longings of the human heart. The harvest is plentiful! Let us continue to be outward focused! Let us press forward to what lies ahead believing that the best is yet to come. “Therefore stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give your-selves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” And remember the promise! Jesus is with us always!
In Christian love, Pastor Joel
Pastor Joel Hawthorne