Once again, this isn't a vey recent photo...but it is a picture of Luke and Susanna dressed and ready for church.
It's another lazy Sunday afternoon; the kids are napping...well, at least one is while the other chatters to himself and sings "Lord's Army," "The B-I-E-L-E" (no, that's not a typo, that's what he's singing), and "Happy Birthday" (someone must have had a birthday in Sunday School today!). Tony also had a great nap....in the kids room while they were out of bed and playing games (until he was alerted that something wasn't quite right...), and I, too, was snoozing away until the phone rang.
Check out the following link (I hope it works!). It is today's BC comic strip and hits close to home for me. http://news.yahoo.com/comics/uclickcomics/20071125/cx_crbc_uc/crbc20071125
We had a great sermon today (like each Sunday). We're starting in to the Christmas season, and this year's theme appears to be "Voices of Christmas." Last year, we had different families come up front before the start of the service and light Advent candles as they related what each candle symbolized, both in order and color (first candle is purple/royalty, the Candle of Hope and Light -Romans 15:12-13. Second is purple, the candle of preparation or Bethlehem candle -Luke 3:4-6. The third is pink, the candle of joy -Luke 2:7-15. The fourth is again purple, the candle of love -John 3:16-17, and the fifth is white, the Christ Candle -John 1:29 & John 3:1-8.) It was fantastic!
This year, as we finished up the opening songs, prayers, congregational greeting, and offering, one of the young men stood up front (okay, this is aging me....Eric isn't THAT young, he's in his early 30s, but that to me is now young!) and started talking. Luke, who wasn't really paying attention (and very rarely does, partially because he's 3), whipped around when he heard "I am Gabriel!" It was a great, um, what's the word I'm looking for? Not really narration, but he spoke as if he were the Angel Gabriel and told about his three great announcements regarding the first Christmas. It was wonderfully done, very informative, humor mixed in, and it kept everyone's attention (well, not Luke's FULL attention, but for most of it!). Pastor Marty continued the theme by preaching on Gabriel's message to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph (at least I'm assuming he continued with Joseph....Susi had a messy diaper, so I missed the last 7 or 8 minutes). If you're interested in listening, here's the link to our church's website, specifically the sermons http://www.faithbaptistpr.org/messages.htm -- you'll have to scroll to the bottom of the page (and as of 3:45 on Sunday afternoon it wasn't posted yet), but there are also some other great messages that you can listen to. (Marty just finished a lengthy series on Man and his money -- which was followed by a short series on Legacy of Faith. A couple other sermons I found really interesting was the message by Paul Jorgensen, a missionary to Austria, and the latest message by Pastor Ken Polley given last Sunday -- Disciplines of a Godly Mother by Pastor Marty was also a great series.) I can't wait to hear what Christmas voice will be next!
I'm thankful for our church. I wasn't sure what to expect when I first moved here. I'd always attended small (under 100 members) churches, and here I moved to a small town and attended one of the largest churches -- at the time there were probably about 450 - 500 regular attendees (today I believe there are more than 600 that attend each week). Yes, I know, for some of you even that is small. But I have come to dearly love this church family and love the different ways I can know them and serve both God and them through AWANA, Christmas programs, Fun Food and Fellowship, and other things. I've been blessed to be able to get to know people of all ages, from the kids (usually 1st thru 6th grade) through Christmas programs and AWANA to the parents (through the same ministries) to families and couples of all ages through FFF, and many of the older couples, especially the ladies, through my in-laws.
Today, however, we are saying goodbye to another of the older members of our church family, Barb Chaney, who passed on to a better place this past Wednesday (last year, we had another sweet lady go home to heaven the day before Thanksgiving, Marian Theriault...greatly loved and greatly missed, and just a month or so ago, we had to say goodbye to another dear one, Bessie Amundson).
I'm thankful that we have solid Biblical teaching and sound leaders, from the pastors to the deacons to the trustees to the teachers and all the many people that make up the committees such as finance, nursery, Christian Education, etc. And I'm thankful that friction and church politics are not allowed to influence our church. God has given us a wise pastoral and leadership staff that does its best to stop things like that before they even start and members that for the most part don't want to let things like that even get a start in our congregation.
I love that we have five or six choices each quarter for adult Sunday School classes, except when there are five or six classes that I want to take at the same time! We finished the fall quarter today, wrapping up our adult Search for Significance class -- wonderful! Of course, that meant that I missed the class on the book of Matthew taught by a very brilliant man who blends together historical events and writings along with the Bible so people can see what was going on in the world at that time, what some of the world beliefs were, things that people faced at that time. His two-quarter series on the book of Isaiah was fascinating! (plus, he's British, so he's got that cool accent to listen to! -- and a hilariously dry sense of humor where you never know what to expect, like the time he casually threw in to the conversation about his mother being in the insane asylum and being pretty sure that he and his siblings helped put her there.... or how his son refused to let some knife-wielding gang members rob him of his money because he knew he'd be in deeper trouble with his mother if he came home without that money!). And right now I'm torn between what class to take starting next Sunday -- the second half of the Matthew class (same teacher I was talking about), the class on Revelation, taught by a pastor/highway patrol man (another fascinating and very learned teacher), a class taught by good friends of ours about biblical teaching on personal finance, or the ladies class on recognizing Spiritual warfare (a Kay Arthur series, I believe). I don't think the men's class is for me "Measure of a Man" for one very obvious reason....
I'm also very thankful for the stewardship of our church. We are expanding in both building and church membership. The biggest commitment our church made for the expansion is that we would not go into debt for any reason. We build as we have the funds. In not even two years, the Family Life Center is almost complete. You can see it and read about it on our church website (given above).
Well, the kids are awake (okay, Susanna woke up), Tony is down working at the farm, and it's time to get these two little ones away from the many distractions in our room.
Have a happy, lazy Sunday afternoon yourself!