We Are Family. Ask Us About Our Stories.

We Are Family. Ask Us About Our Stories.

Do you remember the song We Are Family?  It was sung by four sisters, who named their singing group Sister Sledge. It was a song about families.  It featured a catchy tune that was popular in 1979 and continues to be used in commercials and is heard often at weddings. Sledge family rule spelled out in the last verse: Here’s what we call our Golden Rule, Have faith in you and the things you do, you won’t go wrong. In those lines, the sisters told us one of the rules expected to be followed by those living in their family.  It is a rule that must have worked for them, as the family stuck together.  Three of the sisters were still performing until early this year, when sister Joni, died in March.   The written rule must have guided them well over the years. Does your family have rules?  Do all families have rules?  Are they as public as the Sledge’s was, or are they unwritten and known only to those in the family?  Do Christians have family rules?  Does our Faith Presbyterian family?  Are they all written or do we have unwritten guidelines that family members understand, but are unknown to others?  Are there family stories and family secrets that we either consciously or unconsciously keep to ourselves?  If we do, do they hinder others from feeling welcome?  How do we share them in welcoming others? Suppose I asked you “where are the Apostle Doors?” How would you answer that question?  What would you say?  Would you look around and wonder if you missed seeing them when you came in...
Eyes Opened

Eyes Opened

What happens when your eyes are opened to see something that you thought was impossible to see? That’s what happens to the two disciples who walk with a stranger on the road out of Jerusalem on Easter Sunday afternoon.  They spend an hour or so (or possibly more) walking along with him, chatting about events of the past week in Jerusalem, enjoying the afternoon sunlight. They have had a really hard week; a week in which they watched their leader, Jesus, hanging on a cross until he was dead.  They are lost.  Their hearts are broken.  They think their world has ended.  They can’t see anything positive in the future. Then they stop for the night and ask the stranger to stop with them and share the evening meal. He does and joins them at the table in the inn. As they begin to eat, the stranger picks up the loaf of wonderful homemade bread that the waiter has brought to the table, and breaks it to give them each a piece. What happens next for them is like when you find the o in the puzzle below.  Look for it, and when you find it, remember how you felt when you found it. cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccocccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc When he passes the bread to them, they immediately recognize the stranger – he is Jesus, the man they thought was gone forever. He is alive. They are astounded! What they think is impossible is possible!  Jesus, who they thought they would never see again, is with them!  They see him!...
What is generosity? #40acts blog

What is generosity? #40acts blog

Isn’t it fun being generous?  Doesn’t it feel good to give something to someone and see them smile and say “thank you”?   In fact, it makes you want to give even more, doesn’t it?  You pledge to church, and give as you pledged, then wait for the “statement of giving” to come at the end of the quarter so you can feel good that you met your pledge.  Maybe you make a pledge to give when a student from your alma mater calls during the annual campaign; then, a week or two later, the alumni association sends you a notice asking for your gift.  You write a check, or, more realistically, go on-line with your credit card and give the $ 20 or $ 25 for the scholarship fund.  A week or so later, you receive a letter of thanks.  You feel pretty good, don’t you?  We know we do.  Oh, and one other.  You put a special license plate on your car for your college and pay the BMV an additional $ 25 dollars that goes to the scholarship fund; what a wonderful feeling that is.  Well, actually, the wonderful feeling is that everyone can see that you are proud that you went to PURDUE or BALL STATE, or, of all things, IU. We wonder if that is really being generous.  When today’s 40 ACTS talked about the sacrifice involved in generosity, it got me thinking about my actual giving.  I never think of it as a sacrifice; we think of it as something that we just do.  We give to church, college, the BMV and other charities...
Generations of generosity #40acts blog

Generations of generosity #40acts blog

One of the recent #40ACTS got me thinking about my faith, how it developed, and who was responsible (other than God) for nurturing it. First, of course, are my parents. Both my mom and my dad were active in St. Lukes Evangelical Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, IL, near where we lived. My dad served as church financial officer, and I remember being in the church office counting money after worship on most Sundays. My mom was active in the senior citizens’ program, as well as in a couple of circles. They strongly influenced me as role models. Second, would be my Aunt Lill, my mom’s sister. Aunt Lill was a graduate of the Chicago Conservatory of Music and the organist at St. Lukes; she was a wonderfully generous individual. Her husband, Uncle Austin, a carpenter, was also active in the church, often ushering and building/repairing stuff. They were like second parents to me, and I would often spend the day with Aunt Lill; I remember one particular day when I sat in a pew at church while she practiced for Sunday; then she took me to lunch and to the Pickwick Theater to see a Disney movie. Aunt Lill and Uncle Austin were both positive influences on my faith. Third would be my Aunt Nonnie, my dad’s sister. Aunt Nonnie was a faithful member of a Lutheran church on the near north side of Chicago. She didn’t drive, and would walk the three blocks to church on most Sunday mornings; when the weather was bad, her husband, Uncle Ray, an Illinois State Trooper, would drive her. I never...
How do you measure generosity? #40acts blog

How do you measure generosity? #40acts blog

I thought I was being generous when I put my envelope in the collection plate at Old Orchard United Methodist Church in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  I was stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard, and we had bought a home in Cherry Hill, a 25-minute drive to the base. We began attending Old Orchard Methodist shortly after we moved in.  Since joining the Navy in 1964, Pat and I had been stationed in, and attending churches in  New Port, Rhode Island, Athens, Georgia, San Diego, CA, Bremerton and Seattle Washington, Long Beach and San Diego, California, Sasebo Japan, Libertyville, Illinois, Ann Arbor Michigan, and Newport Rhode Island again before finally buying a home in Cherry Hill.  We had been Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, and non-denominationalists.  Since we were at most places for less than three years, we never actually joined or got very active in any of the churches.Old Orchard was different.  When we first visited in Old Orchard was different.  When we first visited in 1979, we immediately felt at home, and the church became our family.  Our kids attended Sunday school, and we attended Bible Study, and we became regular visitors. One Sunday the minister, who we really liked, took me aside after the service and asked me when we were going to join the church.  He said it was about time.  We had never given it much thought since we hadn’t joined any other churches, but after much thought finally made the decision to join. In those days, joining meant pledging, and we did.  I remember thinking that this was a big step for us since...