Sunday Afternoon Ramblings (Tuesday edition)

So, as you’ve probably guessed, I didn’t get to the ramblings Sunday. And yesterday, I ended up at the hospital, so I ran out of time to do them then, too. So here we are, on Tuesday, hoping to catch up! So, sorry I’m running late! Here are some thoughts about Sunday’s service!

First off, I want to thank our Sunday School teachers. Week in and week out, these faithful man and women prepare a lesson and invest in the people of our church, from the very youngest to the very oldest. As pastor, I appreciate each and every one of them because they are often on the front lines of ministry for our church, getting the chance to pray with people when they’re going through tough times, guide people when they’re going through uncertain times, and challenging people when they’re ready for growing times. So thank you, Sunday School teachers!

As you have probably noticed over the last few weeks, we’re trying to streamline some of the things that we’re doing on Sunday mornings. The objective is to spend more time on worship and less time on housekeeping, and so one of the things that we’re trying to do is cut down on the number of announcements that we make from the pulpit. Obviously, we can’t eliminate announcements, or we’ll never know what’s going on. So I would encourage you, as Pastor Sharon noted from the pulpit this week, to watch the slide show before and after service, as well as check in your bulletin, so that you can catch what’s going on this week, as well as other things that are coming up in the relatively near future. Of course, we’ll continue to make important and/or out-of-the-ordinary announcements from the pulpit, but these will be very much minimized. So watch the slideshow. Read your bulletin. But most important of all, worship!

Adoration did a wonderful job, as always this week. It was kind of funny because, from where I was standing at the front of the sanctuary, I could hear people waking up in the sanctuary. We started out the set a bit quiet, but by the time we reached the end of their set, the voices were really going. I don’t think there is a sound quite so sweet as that of God’s people worshiping their God!

If you didn’t notice, this week’s message hit me pretty hard. As I’ve told a number of people, for the last several years, our church has been working through a number of things that compelled us to look largely inward. We had to make ourselves a viable church. But in the last year especially, we have rounded the turn, and it’s time to start focusing outwardly. The sermon series that we’re working through, the book of Mark, gives us a chance to discover again Jesus’ heart for ministry to others. And as I was preparing the message for Sunday, I was smacked time and again by the reality that there are people in need all around us. Some of the need is obvious. Some the need is well-hidden. Some of the need will only be revealed as we get close to the worldly people around us. Too often, though, we have a tendency to just rush right through life without ever getting close enough to notice or discover these needs. And so, I was compelled to ask myself, over and over again, how we expect to minister if we don’t take the time to slow down and get to know people.

Well, as I mentioned at the end of the service Sunday, we’re getting ready to do just exactly that. This summer, we’re going to be offering a plethora (that’s right, a plethora!) of different ministry opportunities for you to take part in. The first one is coming up on May 16, when we will take a team to Cedar Springs Camp to work on our adopted cabin. The Upper Cabin is a beautiful limestone cottage overlooking the pristine Cedar River. It is our objective to make it into a place where people of all walks of life can find sanctuary and respite in the Lord.

On June 5, DHWC will be holding our first-ever block party. To get ready for this block party, though, there are a number of things that have to be done. First, we have to organize the thing. We already have a number of great ideas in place, but there are a pile of details to be worked out. Second, we need to publicize it. This is going to mean contacting local media sources, but our primary means of reaching the community is going to be through canvasing. We’re going to try to get cards with information about the party, VBS, and our church to more than a thousand houses in the week leading up to the party. You’ll want to be watching for more information about this. And if you want to help with it all, just let me know!

Another opportunity is coming right away in June, when we will send a team of 6-8 to Hope Ministries’ thrift store to help receive and tag donations, and more. This will be an ideal opportunity for someone who is not necessarily comfortable ringing doorbells or dealing with large crowds.

Also in June, the IA-MN District youth camps are looking for people who will volunteer as camp counselors for either high school or middle school teens. Historically, youth camp has been a place where life-changing decisions are being made, and this year’s theme is Revolution. The kids will be challenged to be the people God wants them to be, right now, and to live lives that will impact the world, even today. This will be a great opportunity to make an impact on kids here and now!

In July, we’ll be serving a meal at the Hope Cafe at Bethel Mission. This is going to involve 6-8 people helping set up, serve, and then tear down, and it will give us a tremendous chance to minister to the least of these. Heads up: it’s going to be on a Wednesday, from 4-6 pm. So you may need to make special arrangements, but this is where the need is! Let’s go meet it!

All of these are planned opportunities to minister, but to be perfectly honest, it’s often the unplanned opportunities that mean the most. So I would encourage you today to be watching out for people who need something, whether it’s help with this week’s groceries, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to hang out with. I have seen tons of data in the last few weeks indicating that, while this is the most “connected” generation in history, we are consistently failing to make truly meaningful connections in life. One of the easiest ways to meet that need in someone’s life is to invite them to church. Tell them about the friends and family that you have in DHWC, and invite them to come and join in!

Well, that’s enough rambling for now. I suppose I should get some real work done sometime!

Oh, one more thing: please be in prayer for Erma M. She fell yesterday (Monday) outside her home and sustained some rather startling injuries. She remains in the hospital today, and it will be some time before she doesn’t look like she got run over by a truck. So please pray for her doctors and nurses, and for her speedy and complete recovery.

Have a blessed week, and remember to minister to others in need!

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