july 14, 2021

I can hardly believe I am writing this but school is about begin once more.  As I wander through stores like Fry’s and Target, a song came to my mind from the Christmas season but slightly altered words -  “It’s beginning to look like school time, everywhere you go.”  William Sawyer begins next week and I go back as a teacher on July 28.  Students start August 4.  Geez, that is early!  Even though summer officially lasts until midnight on September 21, summer is really about to be over.


I am going to take another vacation Sunday this Sunday, July 18 while I can take advantage of some remaining days of Summer Break.  Kathy and Don Bryant will be here to lead worship.  On Sunday June 27, Don Bryant delivered the sermon.  This Sunday Kathy will be in the pulpit.  It is an extraordinary luxury to be able to call on these two pastors to lead our worship.  Don and Kathy served superbly as Interim Pastors here at Coolwater from April 2019 through February 2, 2020.  They are well-known and highly regarded in our congregation.  To be able to call upon pastors with such a history in the congregation gives an extra sense of confidence that Coolwater will be in excellent hands this Sunday, July 18, just as you were on Sunday, June 27.


So, I am going to wander away for a bit to take advantage of a few more “hazy, lazy days of summer”, as the expression goes.  I will try to avoid having visions of crayons and erasers dancing in my head, at least for a few more days.  While school was definitely sitting on the off burner this summer, Coolwater has been steady work.  In June our Leadership Team met to begin planning for the next church year.  Last Tuesday, we had a zoom meeting where we further developed plans for our near future.  I look forward to the remainder of this summer and fall for Coolwater as we live out our mission to share the life, love and hope of Christ, wherever God leads us. 

 

Pastor Rick

Sr. Interim Pastor


 

july 7, 2021

I got something in the mail from Coolwater in late June.  I imagine that you also got this letter.  This mail contained information about an incredible opportunity for us to get free money.  Yes, really – free money!  The free money part comes from the Disciples Church Extension Fund Technology Grant.  What is this all about?

This grant offers a 50% match up to $2575 for any funds we raise for technology items.  The letter you and I received contains a wish list.  Did you know that some of our technology equipment used during worship are 10 years old now?  We have gotten extraordinary use of many of those pieces of equipment, but many need to be replaced with new and up to date versions.  The last year and a half has demonstrated the value of technology in providing worship opportunities.  During this time, Dick Huggins, Wes LaDuke, Michael Foster, Susan Foster, and Sonya Tinault, among others, have worked diligently to make worship online happen and to tackle the inevitable technological challenges along the way.  

As the letter from Lynn Allen states, “we need to undergird the church’s ability to broadcast worship services and connect with our congregation virtually.”  To do this better and to make more creative use of our technology, some of our equipment needs to be replaced, and some new technology equipment needs to be acquired. 

This free money from the grant helps Coolwater get more bang for our buck!  Some of these items are a sizeable chunk of money.  You do not have to adopt one whole item to participate in this opportunity.  You can contribute any amount to the Adopt A Technology Fund.  All put together we can raise money to help address our current and future needs.  The more money we raise translates into more free money we get from the technology grant.  However, the money must be raised by AUGUST 10. 

There is a saying that states, “If something seems to be good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true.”  Yet on some rare occasions, that something really IS true. This technology grant IS one of those rare occasions.


Blessings,

Pastor Rick

 

june 29, 2021

July 4 falls on a Sunday this year.  This most American of holidays, celebrating the Declaration of Independence and claiming our separation from England, remembers that famous day in 1776.  On July 4 the celebrations across the United States will vary.  There will be picnics, cookouts, family gatherings, parades, and of course, fireworks.  We are also celebrating in a sense our growing freedom from the coronavirus and the constraints the pandemic has put upon our lives.  This July 4 we are returning to a semblance of our normal way of life.

This July 4 offers a unique opportunity that doesn’t happen every year.  Because this day occurs on a Sunday this year, our thoughts will also be on worship this July 4.  That makes this holiday a little different than a July 4 falling on a Tuesday or a Friday.  What significance can July 4 happening on a Sunday offer to us as Christian people?  The scripture for Sunday, July 4 is Romans 6:1-8, 13-14.  In Romans 6 Paul talks about dying to sin and being alive in Christ.  By grace we are set free from the power of sin.  As I have been thinking about this passage from Romans, the image of chains has come to my mind.  

Did you ever make paper chains as a kid?  You cut strips of paper maybe an inch wide and six or eight inches long.  You made a loop by connecting the ends of the first strip and fastening the ends together with staples, glue or tape.  Next you fastened another strip through that loop and fastened the ends of that strip of paper.  You kept making loops in that fashion until you made a chain into the desired length.  For this Sunday I invite you to take a step back to your childhood and make a paper chain. The length is up to you.  This chain will play a part in our worship service on July 4.  Don’t worry if you come to Coolwater in person this Sunday and forget your chain.  There will be paper chains here waiting for you.   

As you get ready for worship, I also invite you to think about chains.  What do they do?  What purpose do they serve?  What images come to your mind?   This Sunday we will consider the gift of freedom, and especially, the freedom we have by the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

  

 Blessings,

Pastor Rick

june 23, 2021

I think that one way to express the mission of the church is to say that we are building up the household of God.  The household of God welcomes a wide variety of cultures, colors, shapes sizes and ages.  I the household of God diverse people bring a variety of gifts, each one a differing and unique contribution to the whole.

 

Think about households for a moment.  Households should offer the assurance that our basic needs will also be met, for there we receive food, shelter and clothing.  Households can also be places of warmth and love where we are thought of as special.  Unfortunately, many households are not those places.  That is one reason why the mission of the church is so important.  This is the household of God where warmth and love are shared freely, where helping others have the basic needs of life is an important mission, where our unique gifts are a valued part of the whole.


During this last year our Outreach ministry has begun an effort to establish an outreach project on the third Saturday of every month.  We began holding food drives to help Foothills Foodbank.  Out of that relationship came a request for Coolwater to become a food distribution site for Foothills Foodbank on the third Saturday of the month.  Now on the third Saturday Coolwater is hosting a collection drive to help other people and we are distributing food to people in need.  That is putting faith into action to build up the household of God.  That is God working though our church. 


In God’s household is a table with room for many people.  There is always room for more to come and share the feast of God’s bounteous goodness.  God tells us that none of us is more deserving or ought to seek a higher place of honor than another person.   It is a table that we come to with humility and by God’s grace.  It is always appropriate for us to say thanks for God’s blessings by helping to set the table so that others may share and be filled.  How are you helping to build up the household of God?


Blessings,

Pastor Rick

 

  

june 16 2021

On numerous occasions on Sunday mornings, I have witnessed a parent and a daughter or son serving communion together.  At Coolwater this has been a special moment for them to share as one held the bread and the other held the cup for people to come forward to take communion. In my days before Coolwater, serving communion most often involved holding the communion tray filled with the cups and the bread plate. The people went out to the congregation and passed the trays back and forth along the pews or seats. 


I was a teenager when I officially served communion at First Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia.  The day was even more special to me because my dad was also serving communion that Sunday.  I was very excited and very nervous.  I was excited because I felt I was being given an opportunity to do something very important in the life of the church.  I was nervous because wanted to do a good job.  I didn’t want to mess up and do something like drop the heavy communion cup tray that a scrawny, small teenage boy had to hold with one hand. 


I remember receiving words of encouragement from people who understood that I was learning.  They inspired me with confidence.  I also treasured the encouragement I felt from my dad through his looks and smiles.  That experience made me feel that church was a good place to be, and that I had a place there and a job to do.


The church is a place where we should be encouraging to one another and helping each other to grow in faith, love and service. The church should say, “You are important!”  In our broken world we need a place where we are built up.  In our world where often people just want to be left alone to live their lives, it is important to learn that together we can make a difference instead of just existing through life. One way we do that is through our life together as the church.  


It is also good to know of God’s love and the opportunity of a new beginning, love and grace – and people who can make those things real.  That is what the church must be.  We all need to help Coolwater be that kind of place, and together that is what we do as we share the life, love and hope of Christ.

 

 

  

Blessings,

Pastor Rick


 

june 2, 2021

At this time in June I am wearing an Atlanta Braves baseball hat.  My childhood is filled with memories of going to Braves games and watching them on TV.  In the Fall I wear Georgia hat for the University of Georgia because my undergraduate degree is from there.  During the winter months I change to a Duke hat since that is where I spent three fabulous years in seminary.  Professional teams in other sports would include the Phoenix Suns, the Arizona Cardinals, the Atlanta Falcons and the Kansas City Chiefs.   

 

We all wear different hats in our lives.  These hats reflect who we are at our jobs, at home, at school, in organizations, and many other places.  These hats reflect our roles, our relationships, and our responsibilities.  We are parents, grandparents, children, and friends. We may be students, teachers, committee members, employees, retirees, club members, church workers, fans…

 

We are also something else that is extremely important.  We are Ambassadors of Christ.  Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:20, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  So we are ambassadors for Christ.  You are an ambassador for Christ.

 

What does an ambassador hat look like?  It looks like the hat you wear everyday, wherever you are.  Wherever you are you are an ambassador for Christ.  That hat is one you wear all the time because you claim the name of Christian.  It is a hat you wear because you have confessed belief in Jesus and follow Him. 

 

Ambassadors speak for their country and represent their country’s beliefs and way of life.  That is our task as ambassadors of Christ.  As ambassadors, we represent the way of life He has shown us, and we demonstrate the way of life He calls us to live as best we can.  The world around us, wherever we are, needs to hear and see the good news of new life.  People need to experience and see God’s grace and compassion, and the love and reconciliation poured out into the world through Jesus Christ.  That is what you have planted inside you with your confession of faith, your baptism, and your living as a follower of Jesus.  You carry that with you wherever you go.  I am honored to be working alongside you, fellow ambassadors.


Blessings,

Pastor Rick