Get Rid of the Baby!

Here’s my challenge to you this Christmas. Get rid of the baby Jesus. The little plastic one in your nativity set. Throw him in the garbage – or if that seems to harsh – put him back in the box. When you set up your nativity scene – don’t include the baby Jesus.

Why would I say that?

Don’t you think it’s kind of weird that when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, we always think of him in the manger? We celebrate the empty tomb at Easter, why not the empty manger at Christmas?Star-of-Bethlehem

When you celebrate your birthday do you always pull out the pictures of you in your crib? Happy 4th birthday! And you have a picture of you in your crib. Happy 16th birthday! And you have a picture of you in your crib on the Dairy Queen cake. Happy 24th birthday! By now you might have a baby of your own. Do you put a picture of you in your crib on display at your Birthday party with your friends? Do you pull out a picture of you in your crib at your 65th birthday?

I know, there is something really neat about that nativity scene we put up every year. Even the parts that aren’t really in the story – but hey – its tradition!

But my concern is that we forget that that baby grew up. He was the one who was crucified, and rose from the dead. He is the one who ascended into heaven. He is the one who said he was going to prepare a place for those who love him. He is preparing heaven right now!

So…if your “baby Jesus” is getting in the way of you remembering the grown up, risen, ascended Savior Jesus – then maybe you need to get rid of the “baby” Jesus and really get to know Jesus.

Let’s celebrate our Saviour this Christmas. Happy Birthday Jesus!

Chili Brings Them Out!

I like planning events that the church can use to invite friends to church. Our most recent Chili invite 2013 picone was this past Sunday – our third annual Open House Sunday & Chili Cook off. We have our service – pretty much the same as usual. We added in a Chili Trivia Quiz and took time to announce our programs for the fall. We had a shorter sermon than usual and dismissed our children and youth during that time to be introduced to their classes. And then we had chili!

In our posters and invitations we announced that people could enter a chili in the chili Cook off. We had 18 entries! And 4 of P1030472them were from people in the community who have never been to a church service before! One couple had been to our children’s choir presentation in December. We had all kinds of chili. The have to name their chili so we had names like Blazing Saddles, Divine Intervention, Chili Sundae, Hillbilly Chili, and even Chilly Chili which was a Chocolate pudding and marshmallow “dessert” chili. We planned for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prize prizes – $100 to a nearby train car restaurant, $20 Tim Horton’s card, and a BIG chocolate bar. Everyone got to try all the chilies and then vote for their favorite.

It was a great morning. Our average attendance is around 60 and we had 92 people out. We had at least 20 new people! Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun! During the service, the gospel was presented as one young man shared his testimony and also through the sermon.

And now the people who came are promoting our church and our event to others! One ladies writes a blog and she posted a very favorable entry about the whole event.

Our desire is that these events will do two things: 1. help people to invite their unsaved family and friends, and 2. that the event will help all who come take one step closer to Jesus. Many people today want to Belong before they come to Believe. We think this morning helped to make people feel welcomed. We’ll see what God does with this one fun event.

An “I’ve Been Everywhere…” Day

Rural ministry often overlaps to surrounding communities. This was one of those days. It made me think of that old song, “I’v been everywhere man, I’ve been everywhere”.

Saturday begin with me being at the Church Office in Carseland before 7 am so I could do some last minute bits of work for the weekend. By 8:30 I was in Strathmore for a breakfastCarseland area map meeting. A little before 10:00 I was on the road to Calgary to do a hospital visitation. Luckily the person was in a hospital on my side of the city. At about 11:10 I left the hospital to head back to Carseland so I could get dressed for a wedding. I got home about 12:15. I tried to sit down for a 15 minute rest, then got dressed and headed out the door to do a wedding just south of Champion on the bride’s farm. The backyard wedding ceremony went great, followed by the receiving line and then we left in between the ceremony and the reception to drive another 45 minutes south to see my Mom and Dad in Lethbridge. We had exactly an hour with them before we had to leave to head back to the wedding reception at the Champion Hall. We enjoyed a great dinner and some speeches and left around 9:30. We got home just after 10:30. What a day!

And it’s interesting the variety of ministry I did that day. The office work first thing was finalizing the wedding as well as the sermon for the next day. Breakfast was with a man who is a member of our church but hasn’t been attending for more than a year due to some family breakup and disappointment with God issues. The hospital visit was with a man whose family is newer to church and who haven’t really connected with the church yet. He’s suffering with diabetes and other complications. And the wedding was a couple from our church. This was actually the only wedding – out of the 5 I’m doing this summer – where the couple were both church attending Christians.

Rural ministry in a small church is never boring. While not every day is like this Saturday, every week has all kinds of variety in meetings I have, people I see, “pastoral” duties I get to perform, and services I prepare for.

I love the variety. Do you enjoy it too?

All In A Day’s Work

Ever wonder what the life of a solo pastor is like?

Here’s a look into my day today. While it may not be an example of my usual day, it’s definitely not unusual to have a day like this, but let me tell you about the variety of what was asked of me today. Here’s a rough idea of my schedule.

I got to the church a little before 9:00 when I usually start. I made a pot of coffee as I routinely do. Then I tried to do a quick assessment of what I needed to do today and checked my emails.

9:30 Ladies arrive at church for Moms and Tots program my wife leads. I talked with them briefly. One lady asked for a book for the Good $ense Budget Course I’m leading on Saturday. They definitely want to come. I showed her the pre-work they needed to do. She said she’d pay me on Thursday at Care Group. I lead the group that meets at her house.

9:40 Got a phone call from the editor of the community newsletter our Agricultural Society runs. I’m the president of the Ag Society. His wife, one of the ladies at the Moms and Tots program was there with her van. The February newsletters were in her van. Could I please get them to the mail so people would get their copy today. I put them in my van.

9:45 Got a call from a lady on our Ag Society Board letting me know that a sample of some community flags we had been working on was ready. I agreed to quickly come check it out.

9:50 Removed a car seat from our van that belonged to one of the Moms and Tots as Lynnette, my wife, had picked her and her two kids up in the morning.

9:55 Checked out new flag. Looks good.

10:05 Left for a meeting with the chiropractor to deal with a sore back. In the conversation the doctor asked if I was coming to the Lions dinner tonight. I’m a member of the Carseland Lions. I explained I wouldn’t be there as I had a memorial service tonight.

10:25 The chiropractor’s receptionist asked if I did Marriage counseling. She explained her kids needed help and she thought they wouldn’t go to her pastor but she thought I was down to earth and “wouldn’t just read Scripture to them”.

10:35 Grabbed a coffee and donut at Tim Hortons.

11:00 Back at the church meeting with Lana, a lady who is willing to help my plan our Family Day Celebration at the church. Discussed a few ideas and she said she would do a craft.

11:30 People began arriving to help set up the fellowship hall for the family supper being put on for the family who was having the memorial tonight. Helped out a bit with that.

11:40 The Ag Treasurer stopped by to have me sign a cheque.

11:45 Stopped at the Post Office to mail the newsletters.

12:00 Dropped off a couple of copies of the newsletters at a local coffeeshop. They had some suggestions for the Ag Society about flower pots for Communities in Bloom for the summer.

12:10 Back at the church to help finish setting up for the supper.

12:30 Home for a quick bowl of soup and then race off to the Cemetery for the placing of the urn for the family whose memorial it was.

2:00 Urn placing Ceremony

2:45 Stopped at Tim Horton’s to have a “date” with Lynnette.

3:30 Heading for home.

4:05 Lynnette dropped me at the church so I could finish the sermon for the memorial. I had some thoughts on changing what I had prepared earlier.

Our Facilities guy was in the kitchen. The pipes had frozen again. He was trying to thaw them out.

4:10 Answered some emails.

4:15 Answered a phone call regarding Ag issues about the Rec Centre and the fact that the Curling Club was going to have an oyster fry, but weren’t supposed to use the fryer and grill in the kitchen. Solved some issues and got things going.

4:30 Worked on sermon.

5:05 Finished sermon and greeted families coming to supper. Had to help set up mics and stands for two guys doing a couple of songs.

5:20 Discovered the doorknob on the front door wasn’t working. Had to find a screw driver to take the doorknob apart. Manage to fix it by just wiggling things around and replacing the doorknob.

5:30 Supper

6:30 Helped music team set up for service.

7:00 Memorial Service. It was for a one year Anniversary of a man who committed suicide and the family thought this might help them heal more. It was a good service and well attended by family, church members and community members.

8:00 Chatted with people after the service.

8:15 A man whom I had never met was introduced to me. His mom is in the hospital in Strathmore. She’s probably not coming home. Could I please go visit her tomorrow? And I heard his story of four heart surgeries in about 6 months or less.

8:40 Helped clean up from the supper.

9:10 Facilities guy asked if, in the morning, I could unplug the heater that was being used to thaw out the frozen drain pipes.

9:30 Home. Loaded the dishwasher with dishes we had loaned for the supper.

9:45 Played a round of Risk on the computer.

10:00 Told you my story.

And I’m sure I missed a few things.

The life of a solo pastor is definitely not boring.