Eight years ago, in the midst of the Great Recession, members of Silver Creek United Methodist Church started Jesus Jam as a way to help out their community. Now, the event continues as a gathering for anyone looking to have fun and enjoy fellowship.
I grew up in Orangeburg, a small town in central South Carolina — cotton fields, mustard sauce barbecue, hash on white rice, pigskins, Gullah brogues, spit-worthy gnats, sour weed and shirt-ruining heat.
Last week I did something I haven’t done in decades. I stopped by the animal shelter and just strolled through the facility, looking at the hundreds of forlorn-looking animals that had been abandoned. I wasn’t looking for a pet; I have one already. I was returning from a recycling event which my county schedules periodically and had waited in a long line with others there to drop off paper, leftover paint, electronic equipment, and clothes. As I was leaving the recycling event, driving by what seemed like miles of landfill, I saw the animal shelter and decided to take a look. So many animals thrown away like garbage left at the landfill.
We were sitting in church. My sister, three years my senior, persuaded me to pretend I was putting my money, given by Mom and Dad, into the offering plate. I listened. When we got home, she told my parents what I had done. One finger-pointing moment later, she was in trouble.
Less than a week after our Easter celebration and already the trumpet is silent. The flowers on the churchyard’s cross have wilted in the heat or blown away in wind and rain. Lilies and chocolate eggs sit sadly on the discount rack. Yet Easter is only the beginning of the good news! Whatever our experience of death and despair, Easter assures us God is alive, and we are surrounded by signs of resurrection.
A day after Kaylee and Raphael Sartorato celebrate Easter with their loved ones and their church family at First Presbyterian, the couple plans to begin a new career in missionary work at 100 Fold Studio in Lakeside, Montana.
Jesus means so much to so many, yet, it seems that he means nothing at all to others. But today, I want to suggest that at the base of what Jesus means to all of us is love. Yes, Jesus is the cornerstone of life, and at the core of that cornerstone is love.
Life changed. This time, it got my attention. Two years ago, I had a heart attack. There were no warning signs and the pain was unmistakable. Riding in the ambulance, I knew this could be it. I am not supposed to be here.
My father remarked the other day that my grandfather, a Presbyterian minister, would occasionally invite faculty from the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur to preach at the church where he ministered.
You know the story in 1 Kings 19: Elijah listens for God in wind, earthquake and fire. But God isn’t in the ruckus. It’s only after the storm that Elijah hears a hush, the whisper of God’s voice speaking the wisdom of grace and truth in the silence.