Good Morning and happy Thursday. We've had a great series of events lately, the Blessing of the Beasts, the Harvest Dinner, the Health Fair/BBQ/Rummage sale and the community impact from these along with the Shepherd's Bowl and our outreach efforts is beginning to make an impact and impression on the community. As you'll see below we are growing and there is a lot of energy here. It's important not to be distracted or to grow proud but to stay humble and to keep our focus on the Source of all blessings and abundance. The primary mission of the Church is to tell the world about Jesus Christ, to make disciples and teach them to obey the commands of the Lord (Matthew 28:18-end) Second, we are to take the grace, love, strength, wisdom, power and knowledge that he provides and pour all of it out in service to those around us.
What we are able to give others depends wholly on what we receive from God. If we do not seek him, love him, honor him and endeavor to obey him, we will have nothing to give to others. This is true both corporately, as a church, and personally as an individual. Your ability to produce fruit depends on the depth and strength of your roots. Those rooted in Christ and his Word bear good fruit and are regularly renewed and strengthened by God.
"God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
If you are feeling worn thin, exhausted, like you have given all you can give, it may be a sign that you need to get back to the Source, to seek Christ and receive the rest and power that only he can provide.
And so must we as a body, return over and over again, week by week, day by day to Christ and his Word, in study, worship and fellowship and be renewed to fulfill the mission we've been given in this city and in this neigborhood.
1. Noon Communion: Please remember, there will be noon communion today (Thursday).
2. Christmas Pageant: the First Christmas Pageant organizational meeting is tonight at the rectory. Just a reminder for those who are involved.
3. Halloween Outreach: Please bring bags of individually wrapped candy to the church this Sunday October 26th. We will use these to prepare Goodie Bags for delivery to our neighbors . These will be our Treat (no Tricks) to express our love and to invite any who wish to Good Shepherd on Halloween for hot chocolate. This Open House will be hosted by our college students.
4. Article in the Press and Sun on the Episcopal Church Crisis: There was a great article this week on the crisis in the Episcopal Church by George Will. If you have not read it, I encourage you to do so. I link it here along with a minor correction.
5. Attendance and Growth: Just a note to say that we are overall doing very well. We had over 100 this Sunday for the first time in probably two decades on a regular non-religious holiday Sunday (not Easter or Christmas). The Blessing of the Beasts was a big success in drawing people in. This is also due to the fact that we are growing in numbers as well. We've probably added (and I have not counted this up but the vestry was talking about it last night) about 12-15 people so far this year and about six (again, this is rough) are or were "unchurched." In general we've been breaking 80 on a Sunday regularly which is quite good. Our goal this year, if you remember, was to break 100 consistently...and we still have about three months to meet it.
6. Sunday School: While Good Shepherd is being blessed in so many areas, I do think there is one area that needs attention: Sunday school for pre-school and elementary age children. About half of the kids that age who attend to Good Shepherd also come to Sunday School. Some say that if Sunday School were later in the morning it would be easier to get the kids there. I agree. And yet what time does school start? 8:00am? 8:30am? Others say that Sunday School was boring for them as children...well, okay, lots of kids think school is boring too. Are we going to keep them out of school so that they will be rescued from boredom? No. Why not? Because we know school is important.
The message we communicate to our children when we decide that Sunday school is unnecessary, and I know this is completely unintentional but the message is sent nonetheless, is that learning about Jesus is not as important as learning about math or science or history. In fact, these are important..but not nearly as important as the eternal destiny of your son or daughter.
Well, shouldn't we let children make up their minds about faith? Well, do you let your children make up their minds about school? Do you let them decide what is right and wrong behavior in your home? Do you let them decide whether they will treat people with respect and be polite? No, you teach them. When they get older, they can decide whether they want to follow what you have taught. When they are young, they need to have the information that will later inform their decisions. If you do not let them have access to the knowledge of God, your rob your children of the very things they need to make a mature and adult decision about faith. The bible is very clear on this. Parents are given binding instructions by God for raising his children:
"...And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates..." (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
God has commanded us to raise our children to know about him and to love his Word. It is our responsibility as parents to do that. No one learns about Jesus through osmosis. Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of God (Romans 10) So, how many parents at Good Shepherd read scripture with their children daily? If not, (and we should) at the very least we should make every effort to get our kids to Sunday School.
7. Cooking: Don Dean is scheduled to cook for the Men's Breakfast and Bible Study
8. Weekly Podcast: Justification: This week's Weekly Podcast is on the question: Are all human beings Justified through Christ?
This week's podcast discusses this doctrine and answers a question about it that came up on Sunday:
Here also is a good video presentation on the topic.
9. Last Sunday's sermon: If you missed last Sunday's sermon on whether Animals go to heaven, here it is again:
I'll have the text up as soon as I get it corrected.
Well, that is all for now, please send in any updates you might have for tomorrow's Good Shepherd Update.