Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Same and Different

   A week ago, I held Everett Bates Carpenter in my arms about 20 hours after he was born. He came into the world weighing over 10 pounds. He is the second son of Bryan and Sydney, regular visitors to our church while Bryan is training at Fort Benning. Sydney is also my wife's second cousin!
Kirk and Henry
   This Monday, I was so thrilled to hold Henry Carlton Hagan about 3 hours after he was born. He is the second child born to my brother, Kirk, and sister-in-law, Robin. Henry was born in Dublin, the closest hospital to Wrightsville, where my brother serves as the United Methodist pastor. Little Henry weighed a little over 6 pounds when he was born.
   I was amazed, standing there holding my nephew, at how little he is. Not just because he was just born, but because I had held another, heavier, newborn the previous week. We all come into the world in our own, unique form. We are different.

   We are the same. That was Ellen Murkison's opening message to our congregation on Sunday as she set out to capture the work and grace of God through the retelling of their family's amazing story of life over death. When Ellen said, "We are regular people," I could sense every person lean in. [You can still purchase copies of her book, Prayers from Fiji, on] Her message resonated with what we believe about Epworth. I continue to be amazed at how God has been preparing our next steps as a church through the work of our Vision Team earlier this year. Who knew then that our first core value, seen here, would be lived out in that very moment?

Epworth’s Missional Motives - Why We Do What We Do
• We are real people.
• We welcome all God's children. 
• We love what we do.
• We seek Jesus in all we do.
• We serve to make the world better.

We all want to connect with people who are real. On Tuesday of this week, Glenn Griffin stopped me out front to say a word of appreciation for Ellen's message. He said, "We all need to be reminded of good stories and God's work." Amen to that.

   We come into the world in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Soon enough, though, all of our stories come together to share many things in common: heartache, loss, triumph, betrayal, trauma, joy, delight, and connection. Epworth is filled with people who are different and the same. The greatest story of all, though, is the love of God for all of us. We are loved and saved back from the brink of destruction by the most powerful force in the universe: God's love.
   Beautiful, saved, loved people - that is what we are becoming. Grace and Peace to you, Scott

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