I’ve been dealing with much grief this week. I’m reminded there is much heartache in this world. The sorrows are real and deep.

 This Sunday we’ll be reminded that we are not alone on our journeys. We’ll read from Isaiah 43:1-7, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you…When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…when you walk through fire you shall not be burned…Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”

In case you have missed it, the announcement was made on Sunday April 30 that the Rev. Dr. Keith Turman has been appointed by Bishop Leeland as your new senior pastor, effective July 1. You will be hearing much more about Keith, but let me briefly state that I am thrilled, and I am convinced that Keith will be a wonderful match for First Church. In these coming weeks, I will do everything I can to help pave the way for him, and I know all of you will as well. More later!

Last Sunday announcements were made in each of our three worship services that your new senior pastor, effective July 1, will be Dr. Keith Turman, currently senior pastor at Skyland UMC in Asheville. Many of you know Keith. The Leadership Team will be sharing more information soon, so I won’t steal their thunder. I will have much more to say about Keith and the transition in the coming weeks, but for now I just want to say that I am convinced that Bishop Leeland, District Superintendent Randy Harry, and the rest of the cabinet have made an excellent appointment for First Church.

April, my favorite month of the year, is almost over. I love this time when the dogwoods are blooming. We’ve certainly had our share of “April showers” in recent days, and we are fortunate that we have not suffered the flooding that has occurred in other places. Remember to say a prayer for those who have suffered from recent floods and storms.

Last Sunday we reached the end of this year’s Lenten journey and found ourselves proclaiming the glad Easter news, “Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!” I love Easter. And, as I said to one member, “I especially love Easter at this church.”

We sang “Hosannas” as the children paraded with their palms at all three services on Sunday morning. But, just as the tone quickly changed when Jesus entered Jerusalem, when he cast the moneychangers out of the temple, the tone of our service made a turn as we remembered the events of that Holy Week.

We are just days now from Holy Week. The children will process with palms at all three services this Sunday, reminding us of that day Jesus road into Jerusalem on a donkey. We’ll sing “Hosanna” (which means literally, “save us”), just as those followers of Jesus did centuries ago. And, just as things turned more and more tense, and then tragic, we’ll remember on Sunday the events of that week which culminated in the cross.

This post was also included in this week’s First Words:

We are moving ever deeper into Lent on our journey toward Holy Week. How’s the journey been for you? Like all journeys, there have been for me twists and turns, high points and not-so-high points.

Frederick Buechner has been one of my favorite authors since my seminary days. I considered using a quote from him last Sunday when we were thinking about the “kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew’s title, same as “kingdom of God”) but did not. I thought you might find it meaningful, whether you were there Sunday or not. Here’s the quote:


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