Dear church family and friends,
All of the people around us they say: can they be that close? Just let me state for the record, we’re giving love in a family dose! WE ARE FAMILY … Get up everybody and sing!
The lyrics of Sister Sledge’s popular song struck me today because today is the day that I spent my last moments with Sally Jordan shortly before she went home to the Lord. The photo you see above is from my last visit with Sally just a few days before she was gone … we laughed, smiled, and talked about our church family … ST PAUL’s! A remarkable, magical, God-loving, and welcoming place where what happens every day contradicts the message of the world!
Sally Jordan meant the world to me. I can easily and truthfully state I loved her. Donna loved her! And Megan who created that piece of art for her earlier in June absolutely loved her. But isn’t it so wonderful that those of us at St. Paul’s can so easily admit that we love each other; yes, I know it is important to say we share a love of God and Jesus Christ but friends … we love each other in a good family way.
And so I want to stress the importance of all of us making a commitment to preserve and protect the reality of St. Paul’s that we each experience. We must continue to be a church known for welcoming ALL of God’s people with equal love! We must continue to happily encourage visitors to become members and new members to become leaders no matter who they are or where they come from. Our reputation continues to grow as an amazing church where joy is to be found in worship. It is founded on the truth that we actually take Jesus seriously when He said we are to love God and also love ALL of our neighbors with all of our hearts, souls, and minds!!! St. Paul’s does not divide people, which sadly some churches and church leaders attempt to do; we unite people in joy!
On Pentecost, which also was the date we baptized beautiful little Lucy, we had a number of guests. The family of Lucy has told me that almost every single one of their friends and family members have commented on the joy in worship and welcoming spirit of St. Paul’s that they had never ever experienced from a church. It’s sad that they haven’t experienced it, but what a tribute to our FAMILY!!! We know how to put out the welcome mat and wave our visitors right in the door, and we hope they’ll come back for more of us!
The one woman telling me with tears of joy that if we were located within 45 miles of her home she would come to worship with me will be a moment I will never forget! To see those visitors responding to my call of Pentecost by waving the red banners along with all of you … so special!
And family … that leads me to our family project. In the times we live in … in the realities of the world … as we mourn the loss of the beautiful Sally Jordan … you and I need to do all that we can to bring in new members and to grow our family! We need to ask … where are the young adults who used to attend church? Which of our neighbors could use a dose of FAMILY where love is shared, care given in times of trouble, and a faith in the loving God of creation celebrated?
Who are you going to invite to church? Who needs to come to church? Who has been missing from church who you know, and you talk to, and you could invite to come back?
Pastors have unique “jobs” and one reality that I have shared before is how easy it is to love a group of people who are a congregation. But love has different levels and my love for all of you is straight from the depths of my heart … the love my family has for all of you is deep and real. I am blessed to be able to say I am part of this church and as I mourn and celebrate Sally, I thank God that she will always be part of my life.
WE ARE FAMILY …. GET UP EVERYBODY and SING!!!