Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpkin Hunt 2012

Alright folks, its almost time for what I call my "Walt Disney World in Pittsylvania County". If you haven't been out, you need to, if you have visited before, I know you'll be back. It's every weekend starting September 29 through October 28. Come on and enjoy a bit of heaven.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shiloh UMC Homecoming 2012

On the 16 th of September, Shiloh UMC had it's 2012 Homecoming (always on the third Sunday of September). We were hoping for a good crowd and we were not disappointed. The attendance quadrupled the previous week. There were folks there that we hadn't seen in years. Some people hadn't seen Joanne or me since we were married at Shiloh UMC over 41 years ago. Can you say "culture shock"?

Normally on Sunday, after the choir sings their special, they exit the choir loft and go to sit in the pews. This Sunday there wasn't enough room for them to come down, so the whole choir stayed in their place and they were all smiles. That is not a problem, that is a very good thing.
The special song, "A Heavenly Celebration", was provided during the service by Alyce Blanks. It is a blessing to have good friends who are so talented, willing, and available to share their talent.
We had a children's message about directions. We talked about how and why we use a GPS or maps. I told them that my favorite map was the one that told me where all the Cracker Barrel restaurants were on the interstate highways. We never leave home without it. Then we moved to how God gives us direction. We talked about how God has given us the Bible to be our life map.
It is incredible how the hymns sound, when you stand as the pastor in the front of a full church. When we sang "Praise Him, Praise Him", it was so powerful, you could feel the energy.
Cheyanne Toms and Emily Love took the children under 5 years old and had a class time with them during the preaching. They had a great time with the kids and we really appreciate their willingness to help.

And of of course, what would Homecoming Sunday be without a lunch after service. We encouraged everyone to stay for lunch and we thnk they all did. The comment was made that they had never been to a covered dish social where they didn't run out of food. "This is neverending food!" I hadn't seen so much food in a long time. It was a literal smorgasbord, more items than I can list. Trust me, no one left hungry.
We knew that we wouldn't have enough seating under the pavillion with the picnic tables. So, the church went and purchased several canopies, put tables and chairs under the canopies, providing extra seating for almost 50 people. When everyone had been served, everyone had a place to sit. Several church members had to be told to get their lunch, because they had been so busy serving others that they had forgotten to feed themselves. Again, not a problem, its a good thing.

We had live entertainment provided during lunch by Janice Perkins and Glen Garrison. That's Glen on the left, set up with guitar, amp, and mic out in the grass.
Family, Friends, and Food
My dad, Charlie Sr., my sister, Karen, me, and my mom, Betty Johnson. Mom went home with a gluten free cake baked especially for her.

Jeremiah, Kate, Leah and baby Jeremiah with Kate's family, her mom, Kackie Allen, her sister, Jane Allen, her sister's baby, Thomas and her boyfriend, Nathan.
We were absolutely surprised to be joined by our friends, Dave and Julie Wright, who live in High Point NC. Dave had messaged me for the directions to the church. I kept my fingers crossed until I saw them walk in the door. We all went to church together years ago and getting together was like we had never been apart. Dave and I served as church deacons (Not UMC Deacons) together, way back when. It was Homecoming part 2.
Baby Jeremiah, Leah, Kate, Aunt Helen, Jeremiah, and Aunt Stella.
Joanne's cousins, Laurie Thomas and Mary Love.
Laurie with her daughter, Chelsie and Mary with her daughter, Emily.
Jeremiah and Kate with Tom and Carrie Castle.

Saturday night, I had a dream that woke me in a sweat. I dreamed that I arrived late to church, found that the parking lot was full and had to park across the road. Just as I was about to enter the sanctuary, I realized that I had left my Bible in the car and I had to run and get it. Then as I stepped into the pulpit, I realized that I had left my sermon at home. When I woke, realizing it was a dream, I knew that no matter what happened it wasn't going to be as bad as that dream. But, I still did double checks that I had everything I needed and that I was on time all morning.

We really want to thank all the members of Shiloh UMC, who worked so hard to make this year's Homecoming such a wonderful day. This was a day to celebrate the church and it's people.

It turned out to be a day beyond what any of us expected. More people, more smiles, more food, more fun, more fellowship, more laughing, more friends, well you get the idea. As things were winding down and people started leaving, we began the work of taking down the canopies, folding up the chairs and tables, and putting it all away. The day had been pleasantly cool and overcast, as we finished the clean up, it began to rain. How about that for perfect timing?

Every so often, you have a day or even a moment, where God reminds you just how much you're loved. This was one of those days. One of our guests made the comment that summed it all up for me. He said, "It looks like you all are having a lot of fun here". Yeah, that's right, we go to church and we have fun.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shiloh UMC Work Day

Shiloh UMC had its Homecoming coming up in a just over a week. So it was decided that the church would have a work day to get the place spruced up. I, unfortunately, had to be at class and wasn't able to be there. (Stop laughing) Joane took all the pictures of the work day. They washed floors, walls, ceilings, windows, blinds, carpet and more. They even washed the outside of the church. They steam cleaned chairs to remove old stains. They trimmed bushes, blew and swept the sidewalks and parking lot clear of grass and trigs. They did landscaping at the front entrance and around the church sign, planting and mulching. It was a hot day and hard work, but this church looks beautiful. God's people taking care of God's house.

A huge thank you to all who came out and helped.

Providence UMC Homecoming 2012

Before I left as pastor of the Mount Airy Charge, the congregation made sure that I would come back to speak at the first Homecoming after my one year seperation. You see, in the United Methodist Church, when a pastor is appointed to a new church, they are not allowed to be in pastoral contact with their previous church for a year. By doing this, the previous pastor allows time for the new pastor to become the pastor. It doesn't mean that you stop being friends with the people in your church, it simply means that you are no longer their pastor. That role is now assmed by someone else, someone who will visit the sick, pray with them, provide guidance, and serve them. It is a good rule. I didn't say it was an easy rule, for the pastor or the congregation, but it is a good rule.

Anyway, this past July my year was up. So when it came time for Providence UMC's Homecomng on September 9th (always the second Sunday of September), I was already scheduled. It was wonderful to see old friends and renew bonds, not that they needed renewing. Some of the members weren't able to there, but we'll catch up with them later, so they should consider themselves forwarned. Brian Daniels read the scripture and sang a special song. How I have missed Brian's readings. I wish I could get him to read my scripture passage each week.

 I had honestly forgotten just how high the "nosebleed pulpit" was and how precarious the standing area was. One false step and I would be out of sight with a loud thud.
 Providence UMC is what I call my "Miracle Church" and this is the reason why. If you haven't read this or even if you've forgotten it is an amazing account of God's faithfulness and intervention.
 Before we left, Joanne and I took a walk in the Prayer Garden. We were both amazed at how much it had grown in the past year. I am determined to make a detoured stop there on my way back from Duke one weekend.
Thank you Providence UMC for allowing us to be a part of your Homecoming Sunday. Thank you for keeping us in your hearts and prayers. Thank you for being our friends.