Friday, August 26, 2016

Letters from the Soul: This Month's Newsletter Column + New Sermon Series!

September 2016: "When There's a Will"

Dear Church,

When my first childhood pet, a little danio fish named Junior, died, I wrote a will for him, entitling me to some obscenely large amount of money (I think I just wrote a one and a bunch of zeros after it...I was just a kid!), and presented the will to my parents, expecting to get paid off.

My parents, as many of you know, are attorneys by trade. They were touched, but knew much more than I did about how wills worked. I got a hug, but no cash.

And I know now that the hug was far more important in the end. Because I must confess to you--this has been a tough year for me, emotionally and spiritually, as your pastor. Having Agnes Staggs and Doc Davenport pass away on the same week earlier this year, followed by Rosier Keller over the summer, has left me at times in an ongoing process of grieving for whom we as a church community have lost, and whom I personally have lost in the people whom I counted as friends and congregants. 

This is on top of the other people whom we have lost over my five years here as your pastor--I have mourned each and every one of them, as I know you have as well. We have lost some truly kindred souls, and while we take reassurance in the knowledge that they are all now with the Lord, it still falls to us to remember them with great fondness and affection here in their stead.

Many of them in fact took it upon themselves to make sure that their memory and legacy would speak volumes as to their priorities and values as Christians by crafting a last will and testament to ensure that the people and organizations that they valued most would continue to be valued by them even after they were gone. Several who chose to do so in this way elected to specifically remember First Christian Church in their wills, and the gifts that they left to our faith family have gone so very far indeed in helping to sustain the important, life-giving presence that we provide to one another and, even more importantly, to the wider community in the form of our mission work with organizations like Kessler Elementary School and the Emergency Support Shelter.

There is a way for you too to remember First Christian Church--and/or our denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)--in your own will. If you do not have a will, you can speak to a legal expert (not me--the laws I interpret only come from the Bible!) about crafting one. If you already have a will, you can speak to a lawyer about adding a codicil to your existing will in order to remember either FCC or the CC (DOC), in addition to any other number of charities or organizations you wish to make an estate gift to!

Our denomination is able to help as well--the Christian Church Foundation, which for many years very ably oversaw our church's humble investment fund, has experts on staff who can point you in the right direction to make sure your estate gift is properly documented and executed. You can call them toll-free at 1-800-668-8016, or you can find them online at 

Estate planning is something that is prudent to do in general in order to ensure that any provisions for your children and/or family are protected, but it can also be something to reflect your values and priorities even after you are gone. I would humbly ask you to consider it as a means for ensuring that your voice continues to express your esteem, whether it is for FCC, or the Disciples of Christ denomination, or the Emergency Support Shelter, or anyone and anything else that is near and dear to your heart.

 I have been in a position now for several years to see just how big a difference such gifts can make. And that difference can truly be life-changing.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Eric

Wow, it's almost autumn already! After a full summer of going verse-by-verse through the life and reign of King Solomon in 1 Kings, we'll be returning to some more thematic preaching in the fall with two sermon series, the first of which is centered around famous verses from Scripture that we have a tendency to take out of context--verses like John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world...") or Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all things..."). We'll begin that sermon series with one passage from the Hebrew Bible--Jeremiah 29 specifically--before moving into several weeks of New Testament lessons and Scriptures. If ever you wondered how it has gotten to be so tempted to taking Bible verses out of context, or how you can try to break yourself of that habit (or to prevent yourself from picking up that habit!), this is a sermon series you won't want to miss! Once I'm back in the saddle though, I'll be running into this new sermon series full-speed, and I hope you'll share in my enthusiasm for unpacking these Scriptures together!

New sermon series: “Contextual Chaos: How to Stop Taking the Bible Out of Context”

September 11: “Zone Rouge,” Jeremiah 29:4-15
September 18: “Three Hundred Denarii,” John 12:1-11
September 25: “The Immovable Ladder,” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
October 2: “The Croix de Guerre,” Philippians 4:10-20
October 9: “Earthly and Heavenly Things,” John 3:10-21

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