I’d like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and the wonderful surprise party held to celebrate my 50th Birthday. I was humbled that over 450 pounds of food was given to the food bank that day and I honestly do not know what I will do with the 75 POUNDS of M&M’s I received. I do know that if I eat them all I will weigh over 450 pounds, or else I will have to run 450 miles every couple of months to burn off the calories! While I will definitely be eating many of those M&M’s, I hope you will read on in this newsletter to see how you can share in some as well.
I have been blessed to be able to celebrate this milestone with such a wonderful church family and friends. As I look back on my birthdays, what has made each of them special are the people I have been able to celebrate with. My 40th birthday was celebrated with my church in Lewisburg and a youth group that bet me they could raise over $300 for world hunger. They won that bet and so for two months after my birthday my hair was a blonde (well… orange really.)
My 30th birthday was spent at a surprise party with a group of friends at Duke Divinity School. I was totally clueless about that party too; in fact I kept saying what a coincidence it was that they all happened to show up at this particular restaurant at the same time on my birthday! I am completely serious when I tell you that it was half way through the dinner that someone told me that it was not a coincidence at all but they had planned it. After feeling somewhat foolish for being so naïve, I was humbled that they cared so much.
The birthdays I remember from my childhood centered on parties held with friends like Leigh, a girl with cerebral palsy, who came in her wheelchair and Kevin who spoiled a surprise party by making sure I knew about it. As I look back, what makes a birthday special isn’t the cake (as much as I love cake and cupcakes) and it isn’t even the presents, it’s the people we are able to celebrate with. I was honored and blessed to be able to celebrate this birthday with all of you at Faith Church!
But it’s not just birthdays that are all about the relationships, it is our faith as well. What I remember about mission trips are the people we served and served with, not the work we did. What I remember about Bible studies are the people I learned with not the words we read. What I remember about church ministry in North Carolina, Altoona and Lewisburg aren’t the programs I led but the people I loved and those who loved me.
Our faith is really all about the relationships, our relationship with God and our relationship with the people God places in our lives. What we celebrate in the resurrection of Jesus at Easter is that the door to a relationship with God has been opened for us all. While sin breaks down our relationship with God – the resurrection of Jesus rebuilds and restores that relationship so we can experience the love of God that brings life.
Easter is also about building relationships with others. In one of his final words from the cross, Jesus called John and Mary to care for each other in the days to come. From the cross, Jesus called us to deepen our relationships with one another and we need to continue to do that today. As we encourage people to take part in Sunday school classes, Small Groups, Mission Trips and other areas of ministry – it’s not because the programs are so special but because we believe the relationships that will develop through them will help develop our faith and our relationship with God.
This Easter, celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by deepening your relationship with God and with God’s people. Invest yourself in relationships that will nurture you and stretch you. Invest in relationships that will call you to love and be loved. Connect to God and one another – it is one of the true blessings of life and it is the foundation of our faith and Faith Church.