Sharing Love

Her name is Xiomara. She is probably five or six years old, very small for your age. She has beautiful dark eyes and hair and a beautiful smile. She came to both sessions of our Bible School during our time in El Salvador which means that she was not attending her regular school (or it might mean that she didn’t attend school at all). She would come through the door, directly to me, give me a big hug and climb up in my lap. All through our lessons, she sat by me. She spoke no English and I speak very little Spanish, but we shared love with each other. If you ask me why I do international mission work, it’s because of the children I have enjoyed working with for just a few days at a time. We enjoyed learning familiar songs in Spanish like “Jesus Loves Me,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Father Abraham,” and even “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmitt.” (That is Scott’s personal favorite!) We played games that were familiar like “Simon Says,” “Red Light, Green Light,” and “Duck, Duck Goose.” They loved to play catch with balls and push Scott around in his wheel chair. It was not unusual for six or seven kids to be sitting with Scott in his wheelchair at any given time. We made crafts and shared familiar Bible Stories with the kids. But most of all, we shared love with them and they shared love for us. The last session was hard for all of us. As our plane took off for home from San Salvador on that Saturday, I cried because I didn’t want to leave my friends. If I could have gotten Xiomara in my suitcase, I would have brought her home with me.

You don’t have to go to El Salvador to have the same kinds of experiences here in our neighborhoods. There are many children in our community who need to feel the love of an adult hugging them and telling them that their color sheet is beautiful. They need to hear the stories of Jesus and learn more about His love for us. We will be having an opportunity to do just that on the first two weeks of June. I hope you will take an opportunity to volunteer for our Vacation Bible School. Your time with the children will be so important to you and to them. If you need more information, contact Chris Tench or sign up on our website. If you are not able to volunteer, then pray for our VBS – that we will make a difference in the lives of children all over our community.

God Bless,
Rev. Carol Cook

Depth of Leadership

I’m so grateful to be serving at Chamblee First UMC where there is a depth of leadership. There is a passage in Acts 6:1-7 where the early church had more tasks to be done than leaders to do them. The twelve disciples got together and found seven more people to lead and serve. Because of the depth of leadership that the early church cultivated, “The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem.” (Acts 6:7)

As we worshipped this past Sunday, I saw people step up to various tasks and glorify God. With our Senior Pastor serving in El Salvador, the Lay Leader stepped up and did a phenomenal job as liturgist. Our organist was out, but the music was fantastic. Our sound engineer was away, but the video & sound ran seamlessly.

I am so grateful for the talented people on staff at Chamblee First. They do an outstanding job week-in and week-out. It was such a blessing, though, to see the church rise to the occasion when they were called upon last week. There are always new tasks and opportunities for the people of God to rise up and respond to.

This Sunday we got a glimpse of “the number of disciples increasing.” We had a baptism. We welcomed a family into the membership of the church. The number of disciples is increasing. That probably means that new tasks will come before us. Will you rise to the occasion?

God Bless,
Rev. Jeff Rogers

Begin with the End in Mind

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. You may have noticed the lesser-known holiday, Valentine’s Day, coincided with the beginning of Lent this year. I’ve been joking with people that “Nothing says romance like a reminder of our finite nature!” (Admittedly, some find this funnier than others.)

One of the texts that we read in the service yesterday evening was Psalm 51. There are three particular verses in this Psalm that I just love. Listen to verses 10-12:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Reflecting on this, I invite you to ask yourself these three questions.
1) Is there anything you need to confess for God to create a clean heart in you?
2) Where do you consistently feel the presence of God?
3) When was a moment when you realized the joy of your salvation?

Pray over these verses. Think on what needs to be confessed. Think on where you encounter God. Think on the moments of your salvation. May all of these draw you into a deeper relationship with Jesus this Lenten season.

God Bless,
Jeff Rogers

Welcome to 2018

Welcome to 2018 – a new year filled with new possibilities and opportunities. As I put up new calendars this week, I thought about all the things that will happen over the next twelve months. I thought about all the Sundays that we will worship together, I thought about all the events that we will plan and carry out, I thought about growth and change and I said a prayer that God would take control of this new year and make it something special.

My focus for our church in this new year is growth. I want us to grow in our faith and understanding of God’s work in our lives. We will be reading the Bible through this year together. I hope you have begun, but if not, you can jump in anytime. We are offering more opportunities for Bible study and small groups that will give you an opportunity to not only learn more about God’s word but also build relationships and Christian fellowship. We will continue offering opportunities for service in our community and throughout the world. We will be trying new forms of worship at our 8:45 service, continue excellent worship at our 11:00 service, and explore other ways to worship and build community. I hope you will make spiritual growth a priority this year. Worship often, find a small group, read the Bible through, find ways to serve others, pray, and practice generosity and hospitality.

Growth also includes widening our circle. We have an opportunity to invite new people and share with them how special our Chamblee First family is. We will be looking for new ways to tell people about our faith in a grace-filled, loving God. We will be looking for ways to connect new people to our church. I encourage you invite your neighbors to join you in worship, study, and service.

I am excited about this new year and look forward to working with you to discern God’s path for our future.

God’s blessings,

Rev. Carol Cook