A couple of good weeks

The past two Sundays have been wonderfully pleasant surprises. On the 15th, we had the remains of a snow and ice storm the day before. The main road was okay, but the road on which our church sits was a slushy, icy, drifty nightmare. I called my husband as soon as I got to the church, and told him to stay home with the baby. At the 8:30 service, which has dwindled down to pathetic proportions, we decided that we’d just sit and talk, and do the 8:30 contemporary format at 10, assuming we had less than 20 or so people. I called the organist at nine, and told her to stay home. She’s 86, and if the drive didn’t kill her, the ice arena we call a parking lot probably would have. I said that if it looked like we were going to have more than 20 people, we’d send someone down to get her. By 9:45, we had all of eight people in the sanctuary, and I officially made the call that we were scrapping the planned service and going with the contemporary format. B would play the guitar, and we’d save the bulletins, sermon, and altar set-up for next week, when we’d have more people. At two minutes to ten, a caravan of cars started pulling in the driveway, and by 10:05, when I started the service, we had 40 people. Too late to send someone for the organist, we went with the guitar music and the contemporary format anyway, and most of the people there really liked it. Many of them would never have given it a try otherwise, and some said they didn’t even know about it (which is a bit disconcerting, but that’s a side point). I was thrilled to have so many people who were so committed to church that they braved the ice, and we even had a couple who want to join the church.

On the 22, I preached the sermon I was going to give on the 15th, which was on the subject of Baptism and God’s irrefutable call to God’s people. I talked about the obstacles that keep us from responding to God, both external and internal, and discussed the recent problems the Methodist Church has been having (*very* briefly: a pastor in VA refused membership to a man because he is gay; the Superintendent removed the pastor; the Judicial Council, which is like our Supreme Court, reversed the Superintendent’s decision, reinstated the pastor, and ruled that a pastor can refuse membership on any basis s/he chooses). I stated that no one can place limits on God’s call. I thought this would be a pretty controversial sermon, and as I was giving it, it was hard to tell if people were with me or not. But after the service, I had several people–people I would not have expected–*thank* me for addressing homosexuality from the pulpit. One woman was ready to write to the UMC higher-ups and tell them to get with the times, and this lady is in her seventies. People who were uncomfortable with homosexuality in general agreed that there should be no limitations on membership, and people of various views were overheard discussing the sermon in the fellowship hall. Not a bad bit of work.

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