Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Epworth People

   Sam was smiling, and nodding his head like a person who wants someone to see notice them. When my eyes landed on him, he flashed his smile and then proudly held up the note he had scribbled to me. I had to squint to make out the words: "We didn't go ice skating with Talon and Gavin.We had kicked around plans to go down to the rink at the Civic Center for one of their public sessions last week with some boys we have met through Little League baseball, but both families got busy and it never happened. What was most note-worthy about Sam's remembrance of this omission on his social calendar was its timing. This is what he was thinking about at 11:25 AM during worship this past Sunday morning.
   Sam is funny, loves to laugh, and is smart. He never forgets anything. He has an uncanny ability to remember song lyrics and, of course, conversations with his parents! He is respectful of his elders, but he also wants to contribute. Epworth has encouraged participation by young people of all ages in worship and small groups like Sunday School and Children's Church. They know they will be heard and that their opinions are valued. This is so important and Christ-like. 
   So, if Sam is thinking about what he did not get to do on Thursday, what is everyone else thinking about on Sundays? 
   A truth that can get lost when we gather for worship at our appointed time is that the one hour of worship at Epworth is only one hour - our members and our guests approach our sanctuary filled with thoughts and emotions. Some carry hurt. Some carry the excitement of what will be. Some are holding on to grief or loss. Some have had great weeks and others not so good. I promise you that these truths are not lost on me. I want the part I play to be one that of encouragement and building people up. I want Epworth to be a place where the truth of God's Word are shared with a kind spirit. But I only play a small part in the overall experience that people have when they arrive here. 
   Epworth people are the first to greet guests and long-time members in the parking lot and at every entrance. Epworth people are the ones who extend a warm handshake and a kind word to those sitting in the pews. Epworth people stand as ushers and sing in the choir. Epworth people are the ones who lead Sunday School classes and invite others to join them. [And if you are not inviting others to join you, what does it say about your excitement about what you are doing for that hour?] Epworth people are those who after departing worship go out and come into contact with literally thousands of people and can influence them for good with their witness. Epworth people make up Epworth. 
  What a blessing to those who arrive at our church with a host of thoughts and emotions and burdens that they are met by Epworth people. Grace and Peace, Scott 

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