We are back from the Holy Land. We took a head count and found that we managed to get back with all 26 of our group—13 from our church and 13 from Clemmons UMC! We saw many sites associated with our Bible in both Israel and Jordan. As our tour guide said numerous times, “You will never read the Bible the same again.” That has been true for me since my first trip there in 1989, and I’m sure it will be true for others. I hope that many of you who have never been will have this amazing experience someday. And if you’re wondering about safety, ask any of our group—we never at any point had any concerns or fears whatsoever about safety.
I am grateful to Bishop Lawrence McCleskey (who stepped in on short notice for an ailing Bishop Charlene Kammerer) and Garland Young for preaching the two Sundays; to Hardy Tippett and Wilson Strickhausen for providing worship leadership; and to Hardy, Wilson, Garland, and George Thompson for providing pastoral care. I can leave, you see, knowing that we have capable and committed people within our own community to fill in.
Are you new to First Church, trying to find your way around? This Sunday I encourage you to come to a “meet and greet” with the staff following the Awakening Service (10:00-10:30) in the Christian Growth Center/Gym. We’ll drink some coffee, eat some donuts, and visit a bit. So bring your questions. And if you want to take a step further, I’ll be leading an Introduction to FUMC class on Wednesdays February 1 & 8 in the church library (second floor) following the Wonderful Wednesday dinners—about 6:20. We’ll meet until about 7:30 each week, and we’ll cover Methodist history and beliefs as well as the meaning of membership. Participation in the class is not a commitment to join, but simply to gain more information. So, all are welcome!
It seems like ages since I’ve been with you on Sunday morning—the two weeks we were in the Holy Land were preceded by a snow Sunday. We planned on that Sunday, the Sunday after Epiphany, to focus on the traditional theme for that Sunday—the Baptism of the Lord. Since we remain in the season of Epiphany, in which baptism is a major theme, we’ll do this Sunday what we had planned for January 8, including a reaffirmation of our baptisms, a service many have found meaningful. We might even have a few insights from the Holy Land, our group having visited the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism by John in the River Jordan and having experienced a meaningful reaffirmation there.
Let me remind you of a favor I have asked before. On Sunday mornings, be alert to those who are “missing.” Who do you regularly see in worship and Sunday School (or any other activities) that you haven’t seen for awhile? If you have their name and number, give them a call with a simple, “I’ve been missing you.” If you don’t know their name or number, ask others who sit near you if they do. In the baptismal liturgy we promise to “surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness.” The least we can do is express concern for others , give support in time of crisis, and forgive our differences. Each person is precious, and the church is diminished when anyone is missing. If you learn of a health or other issue, please don’t assume that the staff knows—we’d rather get 5 calls about a person in need than none.
See you Sunday