Unlikely Heroes

Just when I think we are coming apart at the seams and nothing can seemingly stop the foolishness going on around us, I am rescued from the folly by unlikely heroes.

Today it begins with Sloane Stephens. Don’t know that name? Unless you are a tennis geek like me you probably wouldn’t. As of last year at this time she was ranked in the 800s in the world. This morning she is the U.S. Open champion having won the tournament as the first unseeded winner in the open era (since 1968).

Sloane remarked that as a junior player, her mom took her to a tennis academy where the head instructor told her that the best she could hope for was maybe a scholarship to a Division 2 college. I’d love to see that guy today and ask how he feels about that assessment. This is also a tribute to the hard work Sloane put in to achieve greatness. Not to mention that she had surgery on her foot only a few months before the tournament.

That she won the tournament was remarkable. That isn’t what has rescued me today. It was the aftermath. She had been playing against her best friend on tour, another surprise finalist named Madison Keys. Two young African American female tennis players reaching the final of a Grand Slam was a good enough story. But Madison played poorly. She felt the weight of the occasion far more than Sloane. In tennis terms, Madison choked on the occasion and that is a very large audience for someone to choke in front of.

After match point, the two met at the net as is typical for the congratulatory handshake. But this was far more. Sloane embraced her friend for a long time, offering her encouragement and the love of a friend. It was a transcendent moment—more dramatic than the tennis, itself. Then Sloane did something that has never been done before in such a setting. While waiting for the trophy presentations players typically sit in their assigned seats on either side of the umpire’s chair. It is an awkward moment, especially for the runner-up. Sloane got up and went to sit next to her friend so they could wait together. They talked and eventually began to laugh together—the comfortable laughter that only good friends share.

Sloane Stephens is the classiest champion I can remember and she gives me hope today.

The other heroes are the countless thousands who made their way to East Texas to assist in rescue operations following Hurricane Harvey—and the many others who will undoubtedly make their way to the Florida west coast to assist with the aftermath of Irma. I saw a photo of hundreds of our brother and sister Tennesseans in a convoy of trucks and boats headed into the area to help find those who were stranded by flood waters—to help save lives. They didn’t have to go—but they did. They and thousands more like them from all over the country.

Sloane Stephens and these other heroes remind me that the majority of our neighbors in this country are good and decent people. We share similar values and we stand ready to help a neighbor in need. I think most of us really do know this about each other.

The problem comes when we listen too much to the shrieking of talking heads who have a vested interest—a financial interest—in causing disruption and chaos around us. They want us to become addicted to the drama so we can continue to “buy their brand”. There’s good news—we don’t have to keep falling for it. We are all being played as suckers and there is an easy fix—turn it off. Tune it out. Watch an episode of Andy Griffith.

We are better than this. These unlikely heroes prove that it’s true.

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PEACE

JIM

Moments of Awe

The hype started a full year ago. We learned that Nashville would be the largest city in the United States to witness a totality solar eclipse. And then a few months ago the hype went into overdrive and we heard that thousands upon thousands of people from all over would descend on our city to view this event.

The week leading up to the eclipse was amazing. Stories every day on every channel on the T.V. talked about the eclipse. Then came the day of. We planned a viewing party here at the church, not really knowing what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised to see some 400 congregation members and neighbors come out. Natasha McMann, our own resident Astrophysicist, offered a presentation on how eclipses work and what we should know about them. At about 12:30 the eclipse began. First as just a tiny sliver and then, as time went on, more and more of the sun began to darken.

At about 1:15 all that remained of the sun was a banana shape. Tari and I marveled at the little crescent shadows on the ground. And right around 1:27, we arrived at totality. The glasses came off and we witnessed a celestial event that hadn’t been seen in Nashville for 500 years and won’t be seen here again for another 500 years. There were audible sounds of excitement.

And then, in about 2 minutes, it was over.

I found myself wondering if the event was worth all the hype. A year of talking about it and a total of two minutes of the actual event. That seemed unbalanced to me.

Except—what we experienced together was AWE and awe is very hard to come by. How many moments of awe have you ever experienced? The first time I saw the ocean I was filled with awe. Being in the operating room for the birth of my children filled me with awe. At my ordination having hands laid on me to go and preach the gospel was such a moment.

It occurs to me that the best of our lives come in these kinds of small moments. The first kiss, the graduation, the job promotion, when we say “I Do”. The best of life happens in these moments. Did the event live up to the hype? Absolutely! None of us who witnessed it will ever forget it. I heard some folks say they were so excited about it that they were going to start right now making plans to go to Paducah, KY in 2024 to see the next one.

I would suggest something else we can all do is to have more discerning eyes to see the wonder that happens around us every day. A solar eclipse is an amazing thing. It reminds us that the big rock we inhabit is hurtling around the sun at a ridiculous speed and there is a moon hurtling around the sun AND the earth at the same speed. And we human beings, all of us, have a significant amount of “stardust” inside of us. And there is nothing “solid” in our universe—only atoms spinning so fast that they give us the illusion of solidity.

More than any of that, there is the wonder that happens between us when we hold each other, and when we say “I forgive you”, “I love you”, I need you”, “I want to be your friend”.

May this day be filled with awe for you.

Peace

Jim
 

Response to Charlottesville

I wanted to write immediately in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy. But I decided against it because many of us—most of us—don’t think as clearly while we are in the midst of emotion. That’s true for me, too. Placing a little time and distance from the event allows us to get a view from 30,000 feet. Some perspective is a good thing.

Looking back on it now, it’s easier to see this moment in the context of a larger story that has been unfolding in our country for a few years, now. I may not personally appreciate the reactions of President Trump and his tweets to this event, but the overall story didn’t begin with him. Events like Charlottesville only serve to further expose some deep wounds in the fabric of our country.

Many of us thought racism was a thing of the past. A relic from a less-informed day and one that we had gleefully left behind. And I happen to believe that we truly have made progress in race relations in this nation. But the obvious truth is, we are far from having eradicated racism among us. There are more official “hate groups” registered today than in any other time in our history.

Now, we can take a step back and see the trajectory of a number of incidents in which black men were shot and killed by white officers. It seemed like such an event was occurring once a week somewhere, even though that wasn’t the case—we just heard about them over and over and over until they all appeared to bleed together (poor choice of words). Were all of those line-of-duty shootings unjustified? Who can know? This led to a movement called “Black Lives Matter”. One would have to be completely tone deaf to deny that the anger within the black community is understandable. The justice system in our country is skewed. This is not an attractive truth about our nation, but it is a matter of public record and we must begin to acknowledge it.

But this issue is multilayered, too. I did a “ride along” last week with an officer with the West Precinct of Metro Police. This officer was a veteran of some 20 years and an African American. He was completely professional and over-the-top friendly. He and I had several hours together and we talked about the Black Lives Matter movement. His perspective—as an active police officer patrolling the city of Nashville on a daily basis and seeing a lot of stuff you and I don’t want to see—was that until the black community fully addresses “black on black” crime, of which he says there is much, then he has little respect for the movement. His way of saying, “we need to put our own house in order before we go throwing rocks at someone else’s.”

I deeply appreciated his candor and honesty and found myself thinking that if we could all step back and share his honesty about ourselves, we could avoid moments like Charlottesville.

In the end, a crazy, white supremacist turned a car into a weapon and drove it into a crowd he disagreed with for the express purpose of doing harm. One young woman was killed and dozens were injured. What do you say to that? She deserved it?

The latest “event” took place in Boston this past week. A “free speech” rally was planned by a group that many felt was a cover for more hate. Thousands upon thousands of citizens in Boston came out to protest the gathering. So overwhelming were their numbers that the original free speech group decided not to proceed.

I’m sure the protesters felt this was a victory. Maybe it was. But I found myself wondering how easily that rally could also have turned ugly and deadly. Imagine just one person in a rage behind the wheel of a car. These kinds of gatherings seem to serve only as fuses, while we all pray no one lights a match. Because one is all it takes.

Finally, we followers of Jesus have a mandate to live our lives in love and peace with our neighbors. When we ask a question like “what would Jesus do?” it forces us to really consider how he might respond to these kinds of events.

So, what do you think?  What WOULD Jesus say and do among us today?

(We are anticipating creating a new Sunday School class this Fall that will focus on the important social issues of our day. This will be a safe place to discuss difficult topics.)  

 
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Peace

Jim

How One Person's Vision Can Benefit Many

Many years ago I participated in a Volunteers In Mission trip to Grenada. We had a construction team and a medical team. I was amazed at the medical team—especially the dentist. The medical doctors were somewhat limited in what they could do—for instance, they couldn’t do any surgeries. But the dentist was free to do anything that needed to be done.

I remember a team member approaching the local elementary school to announce that free dental care was available. Nearly the entire school appeared in the little church sanctuary where we had set up shop. The first pew was reserved for those children who had already received their anesthetic. Many pews were filled behind them waiting their turn.

All in all that dentist pulled over 300 teeth in one week. One week. I was amazed at that. But even more, I was struck by how many of those children may have been living in pain. If you or I have a toothache, we make an appointment with a dentist that same day, if possible. Some of these children may have been in pain for months.

I think we forget the extraordinary blessings we have that don’t exist in the much of the rest of the world. Most of us take dental care for granted. Try to imagine your life without it.

Even here in Nashville, there are many, many people who live without basic dental care. Did you know that there is a ministry in town called “The Interfaith Dental Clinic?” Last year alone, there were over 14,000 patients that visited this clinic, which serves a 10-county area. Tennessee ranks number 47 in the nation in the level of overall oral health. The IFDC helps people with prevention and oral health care that can make a lasting difference in a person’s life. For 20 years the IFDC has been helping people. It began, I am proud to say, in West End UMC and now is located on Patterson Street.

We are now talking about what it means to “live missionally”. The Interfaith Dental Clinic is a prime example of what can happen when one person with a vision and passion can do.

We as Christians believe that Jesus has called us to love God and neighbor and to find ways to show it. What’s on your heart today?

Peace

Jim
 

Missional Living

What does MISSIONAL LIVING mean? That’s one of our new “Core Values” and it is important that we all start to get a feel for what it’s about.

First and foremost, we understand Missional Living to be an individual matter that begins in the heart of the believer. You have heard me on many occasions ask you, “What is it that breaks your heart when you see it?” Is it hunger, homelessness, poverty, oppression? Is it random violence, sexual crimes, racism? We believe Missional Living begins at that moment when the life of Jesus works within our hearts, sees an injustice or a tragedy and says, “I cannot sit quietly by and do nothing—I vow to do what I can.”

It is possible that you, as an individual, can make an impact. But isn’t it also true that together, we can accomplish so much more? So maybe the next step is to seek others who share your passion. Our church will be a partner in another Habitat For Humanity House this Fall. We will need 22 volunteers to work on a Saturday. Is this a place where you feel your heart tugged? To use your hands to build a home for a family that could never have a home any other way? You’ll have the chance to sign up, soon.

I noticed a story in this week’s Tennessean that the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church (East Tennessee) has partnered with A.S.P. (The Appalachian Service Project—an agency with Methodist DNA) and with Habitat For Humanity in order to rebuild the homes of many who lost them in the Gatlinburg Fire. That sort of creativity almost certainly began in the heart of one person who then sought out others and eventually engaged entire agencies to accomplish a goal. That would be a terrific example of Missional Living.

Here’s another example: Lily Wilson needed a project for her Gold Award in the Girl Scouts (the equivalent of the Eagle award in Boy Scouts). It’s a big deal and the leaders require a serious project. Lily’s heart was touched by the needs of school-aged children in our neighborhoods who wouldn’t have the proper supplies needed to succeed in school and so she conceived of the “Last Minute School Supply Store”. Fast forward from an idea to now Lily has over 300 children identified who need supplies and she enlisted the help of our church and others around the area to collect the needed supplies. It is a perfect example of what Missional Living can look like.

So by yourself, with two or three others, or with hundreds or even thousands—“What breaks your heart today?” Our goal is to ask each and every person connected with our church to be engaged in a mission in the coming months. You may never have been asked to be a part of one—get ready because you will be. Better yet, come see us and tell us what’s on your heart. Let us help you find the place you can serve.

At one of our cottage group meetings, one of you said this—“we need to come to the place where missions are not “events” in our church, but our reason for being.” That is better said than I could possibly say. Over the course of the next months, we will be looking for ways to engage each other to Live Missionally—precisely because it is our reason for being.

Peace,

 

Jim

Courage of Conviction

Here was the report I heard on the news from last week—86 people were shot in Chicago. In one weekend. That is a piece of news I find hard to hear. We all know that the city of Chicago has been the scene of the worst urban violence in the country. By comparison, Nashville—now among the 50 largest cities in the country—had 75 total deaths by guns in the past year. And while that statistic may make you glad you live in Nashville rather than Chicago, let me hasten to add that the 75 killed in Nashville last year was up for 41 the previous year. That is NOT a reason to celebrate.

I recently saw a documentary about Chicago and in that documentary there were retired soldiers living in Chicago who were physically accompanying students to their schools as a way to protect them. And it went on to say that children in some areas of town must walk down the center of the road in order to avoid being considered a part of one gang or another.

I don’t know what has happened to Chicago—what has caused it to become such an environment for crime and senseless death.  

But after hearing Junius Dotson’s sermon Sunday, I am ever more convinced that the church has the answer. And, like Paul and Silas, we also have the marching orders to become world-changers. We must also have the courage of our convictions to go and “turn the world upside down”.  

It is easier said than done, but that cannot become an excuse to do nothing. How could the church of Jesus Christ enter into the problem facing Chicago? Or Nashville, or West Meade?

Junius was right when he said it begins with “IDENTITY.” We are God’s people. Our task is to partner with what God is already doing in our community. And it isn’t about us and it never was. God’s act of salvation is still being carried out every day in all kinds of places.  

What’s happening in Chicago is tragic—but it isn’t beyond God’s capacity to transform. And we are God’s partners in it.

Peace

Jim
 

From War to Peace

I don’t know if you saw the news from this week, but it appears the Iraqi army—with the help of U.S. forces—captured the city of Mosul. Mosul had been the de-facto capital of the ISIS fighters. It has taken weeks and even months to capture the city. I served with a combat military police battalion as a chaplain and I know why it took so long. This kind of warfare is “house to house”. There are lots of places to hide and ambush. And it is very difficult to dislodge an opposing force that is in a dug in, defensive position.

Enough of the military lesson. What really struck me this week was looking at pictures of the city. There was quite literally nothing left of it. Every building had been destroyed. I couldn’t help but wonder, “What has been won?”

Our nation has been at war with either Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria for the last 15 years, making it the longest in our nation’s history. I remember at the height of the war in Iraq, I saw one report that stated, if we had spent 1 million dollars every day since the resurrection of Jesus on education or healthcare or any other well-intentioned effort, we would not have spent as much money as we spent on the Iraqi war in just one year. That’s pretty staggering.

I don’t pretend to understand all of the geopolitical ramifications of this ongoing war. (And do any of us see an outcome in North Korea that doesn’t involve some kind of military action?) But I think we, as a nation, are weary of war. Our recent wars have drained not only enormous fiscal resources but also mental and psychological resources. Suddenly we may be wondering if being at war will become a perpetual state of being for us and the world?

I personally feel great sympathy for the countless millions in the Middle East who serve only as victims of somebody else’s war. When will the cycle stop?

I confess that I don’t know. What I DO know is that we, as Christians, have pledged our allegiance to the Prince of Peace. That isn’t just a nice title. It is a witness—a statement declaring who and what Jesus calls us to be in this world.  

And if you and I aren’t “in the room” helping to make these large, geopolitical decisions on behalf of our country, we can still make peace our way of life right where we are—wherever we are. Didn’t Jesus once tell us that “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God?”

May it be so.

PEACE

Jim

Continuing the Legacy of Belle Meade UMC

Sam came into my office last week with a big smile and said, “Happy Anniversary”! I looked at her quizzically, knowing my anniversary with Tari is September 2. She said, “OUR one year anniversary”! It’s hard to believe we have been here a year already. It seems like we were just being introduced yesterday.  

This anniversary gives me the chance—and also on Sam’s behalf—to say “thank you”. You have all welcomed us with open arms and loving support. With the entire church staff—with a couple of notable exceptions—being only a couple of years or less on the job, we are still learning about Belle Meade UMC.

In the interest of full disclosure—and a little embarrassing to boot—we still don’t know all of your names. Please continue to be patient with us. We’ll get there. The more we can sit together in conversation over coffee or lunch, the quicker that will happen. So please don’t hesitate to set something up with us. Linda Schipani did that with me just a couple of weeks ago. She called to say, “I don’t know you, yet. Let’s have lunch." We did and had a lovely conversation. Thanks, Linda.

We have high hopes and expectations for our church. The visioning process we have completed and are now ready to roll out (next week!!) has been good for us to learn the history and dreams you have for our church and also a great chance to have your voices heard. We have taken them very seriously and can’t wait to unveil the results.

I am aware of the legacy of great pastors you have had here. Every morning I walk by the wall where their faces stare back at me as if to say, “This is a great church and we are counting on you and the staff to do great things. I had a conversation just a few weeks ago with Tom Cloyd. Tom and I worked together for a few years at the Conference Council on Ministries office and I loved him dearly. His passing last week is an occasion for sadness in me.  

But it also serves as a reminder that I owe him—and all the others on that wall to do all I can to help our church be everything God dreamed us to be. We are counting on being full partners with you.

PEACE

Jim
 

Welcoming Strangers with Open Arms

I’m lucky to be married to Tari on numerous fronts. Among them are invitations to unique events around town that she receives by virtue of her work. Last week we attended the very first “Amplify Nashville” awards program sponsored by Siloam Health. Amplify Nashville seeks to shine a light on the contributions our growing immigrant population is making in Nashville.

We heard from Kasar Abdulla, a community catalyst from Kurdistan in Iraq. Nashville is home to the largest population of Kurds outside of Iraq. Kasar and her family were forced to leave her home when she was only 6 years old and lived for four years in a Turkish refugee camp. Since coming to America and landing here in Nashville, Kasar has been a tireless advocate for immigrants—especially the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. She was the founder of Welcoming Tennessee Initiative. Currently, she serves as the Director of Community Outreach for the Valor Collegiate Academies.

Fabian Bedne was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the first Latino Metro Council member—a position he has held for 6 years. Fabian is an architect by training and spent many years as an urban planner in his home country. He came to Ohio in 1990 as part of a vocational exchange program and then to Nashville in 1997. He is a founding member of Organicus Design LLC and currently serves as the Associate Director of the Hispanic Family Foundation. Fabian is a passionate proponent of affordable housing, neighborhood development, and increased access to education.

As we celebrate our nation’s independence this week, it is good for us to take a step back and look at who we are—from 30,000 feet. We are a mixed bag and always have been. Our diverse culture is our genius. Our diversity is what truly makes America Great.

I am proud to be an American citizen. I am even more proud to be a Christian believer living in America. The Jesus revealed in the pages of the New Testament was one who welcomed strangers with open arms. I believe we should do the same.


 
Peace
 
Jim
 

Christian "one-liners"

One of you recently sent me a list of Christian “one-liners”.  I thought I pass some of them along to the rest of you to enjoy:

  • Don’t let your worries get the best of you; Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.
  • Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited—UNTIL you try and sit in their pew.
  • Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers.
  • It’s easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one (Boy, don’t I know it).
  • Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn’t belong.
  • I don’t know why some people change churches.  What difference does it make which one you stay home from.
  • Stop, drop and roll may not work in Hell.
  • Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.
  • God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
  • The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.
  • When you get to your wit’s end, you’ll find God lives there.
  • God loves everyone, but probably prefers fruits of the spirit over religious nuts.
  • The Will of God never takes you to where the grace of God will not surround you.

PEACE

Jim

Memories of my father

As I write this, it is Father’s Day. Memories of my father come to me. He died 15 years ago at the age of 86. My dad was an alcoholic and he smoked most of his life and so I was surprised that he lived as long as he did.  

He spent his entire career with Greyhound Bus Company. For most of those years, he was a driver. For the other years, he was the Terminal Manager for the Nashville hub. I spent a lot of time at that hub with him as a kid. All the drivers knew who ”Jimbo” was. It was almost like I was an honorary employee.

I would ride along with him frequently on his run to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He would drive to Hopkinsville, where he would have a 5-hour layover, and then drive back. It was during those layovers that he taught me to play pool. There was a pool hall down the street from the bus station there and it was one of those that you had to pay by time rather than 25 cents a game. So my dad would challenge me into the game with the loser having to pay. He would make all his balls except the last one and just wait for me to get caught up. Then he would make his last ball. His version of torture. I had to pay. Lesson learned.

I also noticed how much the people on his run liked him. He very often carried the same people back and forth from Nashville and Hopkinsville. One of those was W. C. Link, who was attending Vanderbilt Divinity School. He would go on to be the founder of McKendree Manor—now known as McKendree Village. W. C. would never see me without saying something about those bus rides with my dad. 

He was also a hunter. That was something he shared with my brother more than me. I did some hunting, but I didn’t have a passion for it like they did. But he did teach me how to hunt and how to use firearms safely and respectfully. We did more fishing together than hunting and that was always a good time with just him and me.

Both my brother and I were athletes in school and he made time to come watch us play. One of my lasting memories of him was having him there at the Regional Jr. College tennis tournament. He knew nothing of tennis, but he spent the day there outside the courts in a lawn chair watching.

Looking back, the most precious thing was time. It has been rightly said that you spell love, “T-I-M-E”. My father wasn’t perfect. I’m guessing yours wasn’t either. But much of who we are we get from them. So today—and this week—be sure to offer a prayer for your father. If necessary in memory, but hopefully in the present. Try to give back some of that “time”. As a father, I am aware of how precious time with children is.

Peace
 
Jim
 

Living as Children of Light

As I drove into the church today, I heard word for the first time of yet another terrorist attack—this time in London, which has suffered three in the last two months. I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to the frustration of such news. These types of acts have now made their way onto our shores. People are living increasingly with a sense of fear. And make no mistake, living in fear is exactly what they want. When we live in fear, they win.

The Apostle Paul once wrote a letter to a struggling church in Ephesus. He wrote, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.”

If you recall, the entire Biblical story begins in darkness and the last of the four gospels ends with it. Genesis says that darkness was upon the face of the deep. There had never been anything other than darkness.

And at the end of the Gospel of John, the disciples go out fishing on the Sea of Tiberias. It was night. They had no luck. Their nets were empty. They spot someone standing on the shore.  In the mist and darkness they can’t really see who it is, but then—as they got closer—they could see it was Jesus.

The darkness in Genesis is broken by God who speaks with great majesty and creates the first thing ever created—“Let There Be Light”. And it was so. In John, the darkness is broken by the presence of Jesus.

Of course, there is still darkness around us. There are always forces of evil with whom we must contend. I am convinced that we will not defeat such evil from a position of fear. And the good news is we don’t have to. We are children of Light. We are commanded to live that way—to seek those things that are good and right and true.

Darkness wins when we forget we are Light.

Peace

Jim
 

Casual Sundays

Our worship committee met the other night to discuss the calendar coming up and the various worship services (and very special ones) that are coming. In the midst of our conversation, someone asked if we were going to be OK with people dressing more “casually” during the summer months. This conversation comes up at every church I’ve ever served. It can get a little tricky—sort of similar to whether or not it’s ok to clap in church or not.

For some, coming to church/worship will always be a “dress-up” event. I think they do because they see it as a sign of respect. I appreciate them for that. Worship deserves our utmost respect.

On the other hand, if respect is measured by the clothing we wear, then my taste in clothing suddenly becomes the criteria for whether I respect worship or not. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that, either.

For me, it mostly comes down to whether or not a “dress code” for Sunday morning becomes the primary reason that one either attends worship that day or not. Here are the possible scenarios:  summertime is for being outdoors with hiking and picnics and such. If the family is planning a picnic and don’t really have enough time to dress up, go home, get re-dressed, and then make it to a destination, I’m guessing they will use that as a reason NOT to come to worship that day. Or if we have golfers who have a tee time and want to make it out to the course right after church, if they feel they must go back home to change out, they will also likely stay away from church that day. (I’ve been around long enough to KNOW this is true for golfers).

So I think I tend to lean in the direction of personal choice for the summer months. Come dressed well if you choose. Or if you have multiple destinations that day and only so much time to do it, come casually. I’m trusting all of us to know what is “appropriate” for casual. One warning—I’m guessing most of you don’t want to see me in my bathing suit so I’m asking you not to let me see you in yours ☺

Therefore, I hereby decree (sounds like Game of Thrones, doesn’t it? Except no one has “anointed me the king of ANYTHING!) that beginning Sunday, May 28, (Memorial Day weekend) through Sunday, September 3 (Labor Day weekend) that we will authorize “CASUAL SUNDAYS”.

In all seriousness, I have had any number of people in my past ask “permission” to dress casually for the warm, summer months. So consider this article as my giving permission. Please don’t look for reasons or excuses not to attend worship for the summer. You can have your picnic, boating, golf, etc, AND attend to your spiritual needs as well.

PEACE

Jim