First and foremost Cindy and I thank God for leading us to the Carnesville/Vanna Circuit! We are excited about the possibilities for ministry and mission in these places and expectant to see God in each of you.
We are so very thankful for the welcome received from both congregations and for your gracious patience with us as we went on vacation almost immediately after arriving and have taken so long to get moved in.
We are thankful to all for the expressions of welcome we have been showered with. Meals, food in the refrigerator, a bounteous breakfast at Vanna on our first Sunday and plenty of smiles, hugs and heart felt welcoming remarks as we joined with you.
We will be completely moved in and will begin in earnest becoming a part of the community full time by the end of July. Again, we are thankful and appreciative of your patience with us.
As we continue our journey with God let me share my thoughts on how we as part of a local outpost of the Body of Christ as a whole ought to act. These are general thoughts that apply to all local congregations regardless of size. My thoughts are shaped around this simple math equation: 25+2+1=28.
25 In Matthew 25:35-36 Jesus lays out some tasks for us to accomplish individually and as a group; “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” By doing these we are putting the Gospel in action and carrying out the Greatest Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all our heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and the second greatest, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” As found in Matthew 22:37-39
+2 In Acts 2:41-47 we are told about the early church, “So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
+1 In Acts 1:8 Jesus lays out for us where we are to be in mission and ministry, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
=28 And in Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gives us the Great Commission, “And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
As your Pastor I challenge each of us to first put this equation in our minds, and our hearts, then second to be able to share this with anyone who asks and third and most importantly help me discover the ways we can put this equation into practice. Who are the specific people and where are the specific places we can be in mission and ministry. Who do we know that either doesn’t know Jesus at all, or has turned from Jesus that we can introduce/re-introduce to Him?
How can we be in mission and ministry in Vanna? In Carnesville? In Franklin and Hart County? In the Athens-Elberton District? In the North Georgia Annual Conference? In our country? And internationally? Where and to whom is God calling us to serve?
As members of the United Methodist Church we covenant with God and each other to serve God and the Church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness. It is my prayer and my desire that we do so as individuals, as families, as communities and as a congregation in a manner pleasing and acceptable to God. I am here to serve God, to serve you and to join with you and lead you in mission and ministry.
Cindy and I expectantly anticipate our purposeful future with each of you. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
In His grip, Ed