Sunday, June 29, 2014

180 gallons of celebration

Back in January I wrote that I had become dissatisfied with they church where I had attended for more than 30 years. I started attending another church just a bit farther away. It didn't take me long to be asked to join the new church's Compass team, which looks at big-picture, long-term ideas. I'll also be involved in another project, which will happen next week. I've very much enjoyed this church's emphasis on community, outreach, and inclusion. I appreciate the pastor's style of preaching and emphasis of message. I gave a lesson to the leader of the bell choir, though so far her schedule is too tight to try a bell duet or trio over the summer.

The church recently had a Miracle Sunday in which they asked for an extra offering. Their goal was $25K and they almost doubled it. Leading up to that they held a prayer vigil. As part of that a team prayed over every person who attends. As they did so they wrote names on strips of paper and created paper chains. The next Sunday those chains were displayed in the sanctuary. Great things are happening.

I continued serving as the bell leader at the previous church. I went back twice to perform with them, though the membership had dropped to just three of us. The second time was two weeks ago. The performance went well. Afterward a few people asked, “So when are you coming back?” The next evening we polished the bells (as we always do at the start of summer) and I turned in my various keys. The other two ringers were sad at that. Me, not so much.

Today I became a member of the new church. I think there were seven new members. Afterward, one lady said, “I thought you were always a member.”

The pastor's sermon was based on Jesus at the wedding at Cana. The setting was early in his ministry. The party was in danger of ending too soon because the wine was running out. Jesus' mother told the wine steward to do whatever Jesus suggests. So Jesus told the steward to fill six jars (about 30 gallons each) with water. By the time the steward took a sample to the host the water had become wine – and pretty good wine at that.

The pastor picked up on a little detail. Those jars normally held water for Jewish ritual purification. According to the law a person must be cleansed before approaching God. But there was always doubt that one was worthy. Jesus turned that idea upside down. He offered grace and forgiveness. Then he said, let's keep the party going. We can't let the party end too soon. Some of us might feel old, but the party isn't over and we are all a part of it. The pastor went to and held up one of six plastic 30-gallon trash cans placed across the front. Ah, yes, that's what 30 gallons looks like. He said we had received 180 gallons of grace. He then popped the lid and dumped out inflated balloons, which were soon being batted around the congregation. His assistants dumped balloons out of the other five cans. The pastor said with 180 gallons of grace it is time to celebrate! The sound man put on some music and soon we were dancing, singing, and batting balloons. Party indeed! The place was rocking! Memorable messages like that are why I became a member.

A friend had recommended a computer store many miles from my house. After other business in the area I stopped in. Though busy, when salesman got to me he answered lingering questions (more thoroughly than the local Best Buy). I bought, though the process took longer than I expected (I missed part of an evening supper meeting). The store had run out of my chosen monitor, so I'll have to go back for that.

Migration from the old to the new will now move into high gear. There will likely be a time soon when I won't post for a few days (something like a normal week for me).

For those who are interested in such things, this salesman suggested I would probably be a lot happier with Windows 7 than Windows 8. I don't think they sold computers with 8 already installed. They offered computers with 7 with a license for 8 (actual installation up to the purchaser), or for $100 less leave off the license for 8. That's what I did. It will still be a big step up from my XP.

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