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Aug 24 2009

A Breathtaking, Lifegiving Season

Back in June, I suggested to the congregation that summer might be a “growing season” in our community of faith, where the rhythm of life changes along with the weather, and where the Holy Spirit reshapes and invigorates us. I had no idea how true that would be!

On the surface, worship attendance this summer wasn’t all that great, and the Treasurer and the Consistory were left to agonize over summer shortfalls and how to meet basic responsibilities that the congregation has mutually pledged to share. Nevertheless, it may have been the most amazing summer of my pastoral life! God’s faithfulness flowed erupted even in ways that are right now transforming our members and our community. The Spirit has reminded me that so much of what God is doing goes on underneath, deep within, and even beyond our normal activities.

The thirteen-member New Orleans Mission Delegation spent six July days in the Crescent City, in what one participant called “an experience of a lifetime”. According to Pastor Don Boutte of St. John Baptist Church: “The seeds of your labor have already begun to develop fruit. Your work has sparked the interest of many of the residents and some have asked how they can be helpful in maintaining the garden. Thus, we have been able to begin discussion of healthy lifestyle choices within the community. Thank you for sharing in our vision of holistic ministry”. In addition to the garden, our missionaries have experienced the Lord cultivating us, planting seeds, and discipling us, as we were drawn close to our partners and to people in the most vulnerable areas of New Orleans, pointed toward a common future in the vision of God. For more substance and reflection from this mission experience, access our weblog, HOPE IN ACTION – Reflections on Mission, Partnership, and Inspiration.

"The seeds of your labor have already begun to develop fruit."

"The seeds of your labor have already begun to develop fruit."

A week after the return of the delegation, our faith community hosted the TAP Peace Camp. Thirty children grades K through 5 (7 from St. Andrew’s, 23 from the wider community) took part in five days of interactive, exciting, life-giving peace education. The teachers were our own Teens Acting for Peace, who put together and taught the entire curriculum, with lessons on Respect, Communication Skills/Listening, Responding to Bullying, Forgiveness, and Reverence for Nature. Each day involved peace lessons, skits, art, and games. It was marvelous. The teens were terrific instructors: we can all learn a great deal from them. In the Peace Camp, we weren’t talking about what Jesus teaches we were doing it! Check out the News Herald and look at the children’s faces as they give testimony to the experience.

Then, in the first week of August, Vacation Bible School began. The theme was “Paul and the Underground Church”. A community of nearly eighty children and adults experienced living as Christians in the midst of the Roman Empire: interacting regularly in the marketplace, visiting the Apostle Paul daily as he was under house arrest with his cantankerous guard Brutus, worshipping “underground” in a cave, while encouraging growth in Christ for all involved. It was quite thrilling when my character, Brutus, was converted by the good news of Christ and the inspired love of the children, and they invited me into the underground church community with them (they wrote a new chapter for the curriculum with their love!). I have never experienced a more fulfilling VBS!

Reflecting on the summer, I must also give thanks for the inspired contributions of singers, musicians, liturgists, ushers and welcomers, visitors and new friends, all who participated joyfully in worship and who brought the substance of their lives to the Lord, Youth Group activities and initiatives, those who organized and participated in the Church Picnic, and, of course, the opportunity to celebrate the table of our Lord together. It’s been a powerful time of growth for me, too: God has taught me to pay new attention to the movement of the Holy Spirit, and to trust what God has planned!

This summer has been about transformation, which is the promise of the gospel. It has been evangelistic and outreaching. Youth were the inspired leaders and contributors, again and again. And while summer is typically a time for retreat, this one was even more praise God! a time of immersion. Please join me in giving thanks and praise to God for this breathtaking, lifegiving season!

Pastor Scott's Signature

Pastor Scott’s Archived Messages