Covenant United Methodist Church

Changing Lives with Jesus

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Covenant Caller Vol. 9, no. 5

May 1, 2017

A few weeks ago, as the first service was ending and people were saying their hellos and goodbyes at the door to Wesley Hall, I was handed a prayer card.  The card had obviously been filled out by a young child.  Under the “Joys and Thanksgivings” section the child had written, “I love you God.”  Well, actually it read, “I love you Gob,” but I assumed the “d” was written backwards as children sometimes do.  There we also names written under the “Concerns” section and the child included their name along with the name of a sibling.

Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes meAt the second service, two children listened to the words of our opening hymn and took them seriously.  The hymn was Lord of the Dance and the children danced.  In that same service I began the children’s moment by asking, “How do we send a message to Jesus?”  Without hesitation the answer came, “Pray.”  Well, I guess I didn’t need to teach that message to the kids!

These incidents reminded me once again just how important it is to teach children about the faith.  It also reminded me that it is never too early to start teaching how to worship the Lord.  Obviously the parents of these children had done a fantastic job.  Show me a more sincere expression of worship than to say to the Lord, “I love you God.”  Who was paying more attention to the words that said, “I danced in the morning,” than the kids who were dancing?  Give me a better explanation of how to send a message to Jesus than to say, “Pray.”

Why do I feel it is so important for children to be in worship?  Several reasons: like adults, children need to worship God, children need to be taught how to worship, and children can teach adults about sincerity of worship.  Children may be fidgety, but they listen and learn.  And because in Matthew 18:3-5 Jesus said:

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children,
you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

For our souls’ sake let’s become like children: worshipping sincerely, communicating with God in prayer, and letting the Holy Spirit move our souls to dance!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jim

Previous Callers

October 1, 2017

For some time now, we have been engaging in a process of discernment about a building project at Covenant. You may be wondering what the process is, when we will know the final plans, and how soon the project will begin. The process has been and will continue to be deliberate. It began with prayerful discernment of God’s will for the future of Covenant Church. It was during this time of discernment that we made some changes to our Statement of Purpose (see below) and began using the tag line “Changing Lives with Jesus.”

Next, we began to look at how our buildings impact ministry. The Board of Trustees saw a need for changes and updates. After working with architect Jack Althouse, they recommended the creation of a Building Committee (BC) which picked up where the Trustees left off.

September 1, 2017

You may or may not have noticed, but I am not the most athletic guy around. I’ve never been particularly good at sports, though I do enjoy watching some, playing others, and listening to baseball on the radio. Sports can offer all kinds of benefits: they help kids become physically stronger, develop muscle and hand-eye coordination, acquire a sense of fair play, and maybe most of all, experience the importance of teamwork.

Teamwork: think of the people that were, despite their fame, just one side of a great team. Would pitcher Steve Carlton had as many strikeouts without his catcher Tim McCarver? Would comedian Johnny Carson have been as successful without straight man Ed McMahon? Could Moses have confronted Pharaoh without his spokesman Aaron? Probably not, yet the general public gives just about all the credit for success to a single individual.

August 1, 2017

This year, for the first time in my 25 years of ministry, I had the opportunity to participate in an Appalachia Service Project mission trip as a part of Covenant’s ASP team. Our week (actually 8 days) was guided by the scriptural verse, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

The love started long before the week began. Throughout the year members and friends of Covenant have been supporting the fundraising efforts of the team. Then, on Saturday, July 1, many people showed up in the parking lot to see the team off and offer prayers and moral support.

Once in Cocke County, Tennessee, the team put their love into action by fanning out across the county to five different sites to make homes warmer, safer and drier. But the love didn’t stop there!

July 1, 2017

The school year has come to an end, the pools are open, the weather has become hot and humid, and air conditioners are humming. The traditional vacation season is upon us. Summer is here! Theoretically, it’s time to sit back and relax. Yet sometimes we have trouble relaxing because there is so much to do.

We are busy visiting grandma’s, the in-laws, and a few old friends, purchasing supplies for our summer barbeques with family and neighbors, mapping out sightseeing trips to who knows where, and maybe even spending some time at the shore or in the mountains. We are busy with home projects of painting a room, weeding the overgrown garden, and finally reseeding that brown patch that used to be grass. While all those plans and activities may feel important and sound good, we can make our summers so crammed full stuff, we may miss the opportunity to really relax and allow our spirits to be renewed and enjoy the opportunity for some re-creation.