Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family & Friends,
Nothing says summer like car washes and cookouts, graduations, Father’s Day, and sunshine! June offers all of those things for us as a church community. On June 1, 2019, our Youth Ministry will hold their annual Car Wash in our church parking lot to raise funds for their ministry goals for this fall and next spring. Our youth ministry is dedicated to learning more about the love of Jesus Christ and how Christ’s mission and ministry speaks to and helps them navigate their lives and situations. These young people serve the Lord and are engaged in the life of the church. The money that they raise goes directly to their ministry account and used solely for their activities. They will have food and refreshments available for purchase so please come by and support. The car wash starts at 11am and ends at 3pm.
We will be celebrating our graduates on Sunday June 9, 2019. We believe in education and the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. Proverbs 4:6 says, “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” We believe in the wisdom of the scriptures and we acknowledge the pursuit of wisdom in the lives of our young people who are graduating this year. This day will be special as we commemorate their achievement and we encourage them to higher heights in education and knowledge. We are asking that all family and friends of graduates come fellowship and witness with us as we lift up and pray for these graduates in worship.
The second Sunday is also Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter), the day in the liturgical calendar where we celebrate the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles of Christ. For us as American Baptists, we honor and invoke the Spirit of the Living God in our lives and worship. Thus, this day is significant for our Christian assembly and the power the church can have in ministering to our communities and making a difference through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please join us for Pentecost Sunday worship.
Father’s Day is the third Sunday of June and we will be recognizing and honoring the men in our lives who help us to understand our faith in God. Oftentimes we view Father’s Day and its significance in myriad ways. However, at the Church-in-the-Garden, we will be focusing on those men who help teach sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, brothers and sisters about Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God. When men understand who they are in Christ and submit to the power of the Holy Spirit, they can help witness and example what a Christ follower is. Understanding who we are in Christ brings about a transformation in our lives. We may see ourselves differently. In fact, we should see ourselves differently. Others should see us differently as well. The scriptures illustrate for men and fathers a better way to understand themselves through the lens of Jesus Christ. What is more, it gives us ways that we can be better men and fathers to the glory of the Lord. So, worship with us all this month. You will be glad you did!
Last month we celebrated Mother’s Day and we had a high time in the Lord. The message was “The Myth of the Supermom and Superwoman”. I commend to all of you to browse our Look & Listen section on our website for video highlights and full audio sermons (churchinthegarden.org/look-listen). Many of the sermons that we shared this month had to do with the Holy Spirit leading up to Pentecost. However, the May 19 service featured a sermon entitled “Good News for a Government Gone Wrong” taken from Isaiah 10:1-2 and John 6:20. This sermon featured the biblical concern about governments gone too far by Isaiah and the Good News of Jesus Christ in response to the recent news out of Alabama and the topic of abortion. While many have strong feelings on the subject, what people are using as a theological foundation seems to be cherry-picked scriptures and a tepid at best engagement with the Bible and the greater context of Biblical characters. A person’s feelings and opinions coupled with limited medical knowledge, an inability to see other viewpoints, one’s own vaunted sense of piety, and specious theological readings should not be the basis for political policy. In addition, we should not base political policy and laws on vacuous biblical interpretation and misleading theological tropes.
The church of Jesus Christ has an obligation to teach and help educate Christ followers, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to discern and learn about God and the love that embodies the triune God. It also has the responsibility to speak truth to power and critique powers that do harm and are antithetical to the love of God and Jesus Christ. I know that this can be a tight rope and that many may disagree. That is okay. I believe the Church of God and American Baptist churches (we are one!) can hold this in tension. We can acknowledge and see our differences and find the common ground that is necessary to dialogue with one another. We claim not our ways and belief over and above someone else’s belief. Rather, we speak humbly, ready to listen, willing to discuss, and eager to use the Holy Spirit as a guide for mutual uplift of humankind, community, and the people of God. I welcome your comments and questions. I am here to listen, learn, and share.
Let me also say to all those born in June and to two of my sisters. Happy Birthday! As always, I invite you to come to the Church-in-the-Garden where Jesus Christ is exalted and the Word of God explained. The Garden is open to you!
Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr.