It started with a hankering for a food truck taco. Or, depending on how you look at it, with inspiration from a new member I’d met recently.
On Friday morning I’d been working on a profile of Daniel Haga, who joined First Presbyterian Church because he’s been watching the Sunday service on TV since he was a kid. He lives in Granite Falls. So you may never meet him in person, but you’ll meet him in July when the next issue of Tapestry comes out. When I interviewed Daniel, he kept mentioning that his favorite scripture is James 1:2. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…
Those words kept hitting me in the gut as I worked on the story about Daniel.
I’ve been struggling to make sense of a lot of things in the world these days. Sometimes it’s all I can do not to count it all such a hot mess that I want to pull the covers over my head every morning and refuse to adult. So I felt pretty sure that, through Daniel, God was reminding me to Count it all joy.
As I walked to the Square for a taco fix, I realized that I’d been fed spiritually while working on the story about Daniel. I wanted to smile at everybody I passed. Even the racket from the construction along Trade Street rolled over me like street music.
I launched into a conversation with Randy, the guy who runs SoCal Tacos, as if we’re old friends, which we aren’t. But we’re both old hippies, which is sorta the same thing. On Friday, Randy was a little discouraged. His business has been down by 50 percent since the street construction kicked in a few weeks ago. Just getting his stand in position on his corner is a challenge these days. I found myself telling him about Daniel and Count it all joy. Randy liked it and told me about his favorite scripture.
When he handed me my two carnitas tacos with green salsa and sour cream, Randy said, “Every time you come it’s like you bring a spirit of calm with you.”
Personally, I think he was experiencing Daniel’s favorite scripture, not me. Or maybe this is a case of Randy receiving back what he puts out into the world. But his words anchored the sense of joy a little deeper in my soul.
While I was still smiling, I turned and saw Sam, the street evangelist who also sets up shop on the corner of Trade and Tryon. You might’ve read about Sam in a post Pen shared on Facebook recently. I’m not a big fan of street evangelists. But Sam is different, as our FPC middle school youth learned this week when they met Sam while handing out water on their way to the Urban Ministry Center. Sam’s heart is as big as his voice—and I can hear him all the way from the front entrance to FPC when he calls out, “Jesus loves you!”
So when I saw him before he saw me, I called out, “Sam! Jesus loves you!”
Sam looked up, smiled and called back, “He loves you, too!”
I smiled all the way back to my desk. The rest of the day it was pretty easy to count it all joy.
Do you know someone whose day needs cheering? Through the summer, your Flower Ministry Team will make arrangements from the sanctuary flowers, and you’re invited to take them to anyone whose day might be brightened by knowing our church family is thinking of them. Pick up an arrangement in the church drive after worship on August 13.
Music Associate Kelly Potts has planned a fun day for all current and prospective members of Child’s Intro to Music and Carol and Kirk Choirs (TK-5th Graders) on August 26, TIME, at Kinetic Heights, Providence Square Shopping Center, 5664 International Drive. Contact Kelly Potts (email@example.com) if your child is interested in attending or for additional information.
Training sessions for volunteering with the local affiliate of the national Communities In Schools (CIS) network begin in August.
CIS in Charlotte serves more than 6,000 students who have some of the greatest needs but the fewest resources in selected Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. CIS volunteers meet with a student a minimum of twice a month to help students build aspirations, develop interpersonal skills and set goals.
Volunteers are required to participate in a three-hour interactive training session before being matched with a student, plus a follow-up 90-minute training session within three to nine months after completing Session One. The next Training Session One will be held at The Children & Family Services Center, 601 E. 5th Street at the following times.
If you make donations electronically and sometimes feel left out when the offering plate is passed during worship, you can now use a new card to participate.
You are invited to take one of the new I Give Electronically cards from the racks on the back of each pew and drop it into the offering plate when it is passed. This not only gives you the opportunity to participate in an important part of our service, it also demonstrates the habit of weekly giving to the children in our pews.
We hope you’ll use the new I Give Electronically cards each Sunday!
A mission trip to the Lumberton area, in eastern North Carolina, is scheduled for October 12-18 to assist with flood clean-up in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Join trip leader David Burton, an experienced contractor and trip planner, in this relief effort. No experience is necessary, just an open spirit and willingness to serve. David finds work for all types, ages and abilities. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey friends, I invite you to take a peek at the good work some of our fellow FPCers are doing to help others in our city.
First, here’s a WBTV interview with Emily Elliott about Heart Math Tutoring, a nonprofit that connects volunteer tutors with about 600 Charlotte-Mecklenburg students. I’m sure Emily would love to hear from you if you get stirred up by the idea of helping children jump-start their futures.
Here’s Diane Carey talking about Loaves and Fishes, posted by the group We Walk Together, a group from all across Charlotte that came together shortly after the Charleston church shootings to encourage community and conversations by simply walking together.
It’s so inspiring to see strangers become friends by working together to help others.
If you’re thinking about how you can get involved in an opportunity to serve, call or email me. The sky’s the limit! And it can start by simply following the lead of Howard Thurman, “Ask yourself what makes you come alive.”
The Holy Spirit stirred things up for me a few weeks ago.
I was in one of the stretches in my faith where I was craving the concrete.
So much of the time, faith and ministry and discipleship exist in the realm of feelings and ideas and theories. But without the concrete, my faith tends to become brittle. My spiritual bones begin to feel dry.
Faith—whether it is our personal faith or the faith we express as a group of believers that God gathers to form a church—is always a journey with peaks and valleys. Sometimes God pulls me out of the valley through prayer. Other times, it is by placing messengers (the Bible calls messengers “angels”) in my path. Three weeks ago in worship the Holy Spirit pulled me up from the valley by connecting faith to my senses.
It was during a baptism.
“Will the congregation please stand: Do you, the people of the church, promise to tell this new disciple the good news of the gospel, to help him know all that Christ commands, and, by your fellowship, strengthen his family ties with the household of God?”
It wasn’t our congregation’s resounding “We do!” that did it.
It was the noise the preceded the question.
“Will the congregation please stand…”
When hundreds of people stand up in an historic sanctuary with squeaky floorboards it causes a commotion. The commotion of that rising from the pews is holy.
That rising to glimpse the face of the baby about to receive the promises of grace.
That rising to utter promises to parents that we will walk with them as they raise their child in the faith.
That rising to stand together—as different as we may be—to embody a commitment to be Christ’s family, in a concrete way.
This is what the church—and faith—sound like.
It was a sound that quenched the dry places of my soul.
I don’t know if you are at a peak or a valley in your journey of faith. But wherever you might be, I would encourage you to make attending worship with your church family a priority. God does speak: sometimes in anthems, sometimes in prayers, sometimes in sermons. And sometimes, even, in floorboards that announce the good news of our salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.