Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reasons to Celebrate

This post first appeared in our church newsletter, The Southwest Spirit.

Life is full of reasons to celebrate. We celebrate at weddings, births, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, and even retirements. In the best of circumstances, we celebrate at funerals. We can celebrate at funerals when we can rejoice over a life well-lived. We can celebrate at funerals because we remember all of the wonderful moments in a life. We can celebrate at a funeral when we know it is only a temporary good-bye.

In a way, this is the type of celebrating our church has been doing recently as Rudy and Doris prepared to retire. What a wonderful season of celebration it has been as we have remembered the wonderful memories of the past 30 years. Though Tara and I have only been here a little more than three years, we have our own memories we will treasure. And even though our church has certainly not been at a funeral for Rudy and Doris (and hopefully not for many, many years!), our celebration good-byes have been tinged with just a touch of sadness. However, we look forward to those special occasions when we will worship together again and perhaps even the day when the Pulidos will be a part of our church family once more. As we have celebrated with them and remembered their service, we also celebrate this next chapter in their lives and what God will do next.

Southwest Baptist has another reason to celebrate: God isn’t finished with us yet! Not by a long-shot. Our church has not experienced the transition which comes through a senior pastor change very often, but we are now in the midst of it. This can and should be an exciting time for us as we consider “the plans I have for you…plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. Maybe that’s the best possible reason to celebrate!

Grace and peace,
James

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Remembering the Little Things...

This first appeared in our church newsletter, The Southwest Spirit.

Ministers, all of us, can be odd ducks. While admitting this, I do believe there is one way ministers have discovered something much of the rest of the world has missed. Some vocations express lofty goals, and many include notoriety. Sometimes an occupation even romanticizes its part in “changing the world.” Few ministers accept their calling with such a perspective. Sure, there is the occasional Billy Graham or Rick Warren, who attain international renown. However, most ministers serve faithfully for years, known well in local churches and communities but rarely beyond. This is probably how it should be.

Through all the years, lives are touched, hearts are changed, hurts are healed, and needs are met. For those outside the community of faith, these might seem like “little” things. However, those baptized, married, restored or comforted recognize how each “little” thing plays a part in changing the world – in moving God’s kingdom forward in this place.

Our retiring pastor has accomplished much for which he has received recognition. However, it might be those things for which little recognition has been given that are most important. Thank you, Rudy Pulido, for those “little” things you gave which we will forever remember, treasure, and keep in our hearts.

Grace and peace,
Pastor James