E-Note for Tuesday, October 5th

Hello, Friends! I hope this first E-Note of October finds you well!

It was 1983. The minimum wage was $2.50 per hour. And there was no “time-and-a-half” after 40 hours.

But I was lucky to get the summer job on the catfish farm. Times were hard in the Delta.

I was hired to be an oxygen checker. I worked alone, all night, every night, wading into the water, the cottonmouths, and the mosquitoes, checking the oxygen content of 70 catfish ponds. My workday began each afternoon at 4:30. I was relieved at 7:00 the next morning. Seven days a week.

I eventually got used to it, wading in and out of 70 ponds, multiple times per night. I got used to the mosquitoes and the stifling Delta humidity. I even got used to the snakes. Mostly.

What scares me still today is that I also got used to working Sundays. 

Sunday was just another day, on the farm. Just another 14 1/2 hours of a 101-hour workweek.

Fortunately, a guy doesn’t wade into snake-filled water 300 times per night (25,000 times for the summer!) without getting a revelation or two. Here’s what I arrived at.

 

  1. It’s easy to forget that God created us to be “on 6, off 1”.
  2. After a while, even a 20-year-old body starts breaking down, physically and emotionally. For sure, spiritually.
  3. After about 80 hours, I’d start getting careless. Not a good thing where venomous cottonmouths, water, solitude, darkness, and a Honda 3-wheeler are involved.
  4. After a while, I forgot what I was working for.

 

When God invented the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8: “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work.”), He was giving a GIFT of a weekly DAY OFF to people who had been enslaved for hundreds of years! None of the Israelites had ever had a day off in their entire lives! Neither had their parents or grandparents. It was a gift.

 

Yet, God had to COMMAND them to observe the sabbath.

Interesting.

 

Fast forward some 2,000 years to the Old Testament prophet Nehemiah. God reveals to Nehemiah that the reason He (God) is no longer blessing the Israelites, God’s Chosen People, is because they started treating the Sabbath like it was just another day!  Consider: “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the sabbath day? Did not your ancestors act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring more wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath.” (13:18, NRSV)

 

Look, I know it’s football season. And deer season. And whatever-else season. But for WHAT, really, are we selling out the 4th Commandment?

As some great Facebook prophet has observed, “Church should be our reason to miss everything else, not vice versa.”

 

As we focus on the importance of Sabbath in our worship services on Sunday, I surely hope God’s House is full. It never works out well when we treat the Lord’s Day as just another day. 

Join us in worship, in person if possible, online if necessary. But join us.

Let not the temptation to wade with the snakes hinder you from worship.

(That’s not a Proverb, but it ought to be!)

In Joy,

Tom


++++++++

Here’s some good news: Our Sanctuary’s aging (if it was a car, our sound system would qualify for an “antique” license tag!) sound system has been evaluated by Pro Concert Sound. We are awaiting their estimate. The REALLY good news: A generous church member, who prefers to remain anonymous, has pledged to pay for it!

God is so good!


++++++++

Speaking of God’s goodness, I’m out of commission for a few days following sinus surgery on Monday. It was my last resort after 7 months of being sick, 3 rounds of antibiotics and 3 rounds of steroids. I trust I’ll be better than ever soon!

In the meantime, I have secured our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Raigan Miskelly, to fill in for me in our Wednesday Night Adult Bible Study. Raigan is a great teacher, and I encourage you to come and study “Jacob Wrestles the Angel (?)”, Genesis 32:22-32!


++++++++

I’ll be back to preaching on Sunday, October 9, as we tackle the subject of “Sabbath”!


++++++++

For now, that’s it for this week’s E-Note. Have a great day, and remember,

Today is the oldest you have ever been; today is the youngest you will ever be.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2022

Greetings to you all,

As the weather begins to be kinder in temperatures, all of our spirits seem to be lighter, and during this season of celebration and thanksgiving, I would like to remind you all that October is the month for clergy appreciation. Originally known as Pastor Appreciation Month, it has since been broadened to include all​ clergy who serve our congregations, whether the “pastor” or in other supporting roles. Some congregations use this as a time to celebrate and appreciate all of their leaders and staff.​

The call to honor our church leaders’ contributions goes back to the time of Apostle Paul. As founder of many of the first Christian churches, Paul enjoined the congregation to give ‘double honor’ to the elders who managed the affairs of the church. He was especially concerned about honoring “those whose work is preaching and teaching.” Paul the apostle also entreated Christian communities to acknowledge those “who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord, and who admonish you.” He believed that holding these spiritual leaders “in the highest regard in love because of their work” is crucial to Christian beliefs.

While I know all of you make your clergy leaders feel special every week, we want to encourage you to take some special time during this month to let them know how much you love and appreciate all they do.​ Below are a few suggestions of ways to show the love.​ ​

ENCOURAGE YOUR CLERGY

  1. Write your clergy a simple note of thanks for their work and their ministry.
  2. Pray for your clergy and his/her family.
  3. Offer to take your clergy out for coffee or lunch.
  4. Have children of the church make cards for your clergy.​
  5. Send your clergy an email with an encouragement for the week.
  6. Offer to pray for your clergy IN worship on Sunday morning.
  7. Have different members offer a word of appreciation during worship each Sunday of the month.
  8. Get together with other families in the church to treat your clergy and their family to a gift card for a meal out or a treat!
  9. Offer to babysit for a night out or pet-sit for some time away.
  10. Bring your clergy something homemade and delicious to enjoy.
  11. Remind and gently encourage your clergy to make time for self-care and rest!
  12. Encourage your clergy to attend a retreat this year to renew and reset!

​ SUPPORT YOUR CLERGY IN MINISTRY

  1. Offer to take Communion to a homebound member, or call and check in with them.
  2. Help with a usual task, like tidying the sanctuary.
  3. Publicly support your clergy, and encourage your fellow members to do the same.
  4. Support the ministry of your pastor with your prayers, presence, gifts, service​ and witness.​ Nothing fills a heart with joy like members participating in ministry.
  5. If your pastor is looking for volunteers, step up and get involved.
  6. Schedule an intentional conversation with the pastor and ask for ways your can be involved and support the ministry you both share.

In whatever ways you choose to show your love and appreciation, know that it​ will mean more to your clergy than words could ever express.​

Blessings,

Rev. Trey Harper

E-Note for Tuesday, Sept. 27

E-Note for Tuesday, September 20th

Good morning, and welcome back to summer! I hope you are all well and cool as you read this E-Note!

I remember the little cemetery. It is in rural Iowa. My Grampa showed me his older brother’s grave. Joe had died in 1922, from complications from mustard gas from the Great War Over There. When he died, Joe left my 13-year-old Grampa as the man of the house.

There was no money for a headstone. But my Grampa, a craftsman even at that age, had a DIY solution.

First, he built a box out of wood. This would serve as the form for the planned cement grave marker. Then Grampa got busy carving letters out of wood. When he had the letters for the name, the dates, and a short epitaph, he poured the cement into the form. And then he carefully set the wooden letters into the wet cement.

When the cement dried, the grave marker was complete. Nothing fancy, but serviceable.

Fast forward 60-some-odd years. Grampa and I looked at Joe’s grave. The wooden letters had long since rotted away. But the impressions they made in the cement were still sharp, and clearly legible.

That’s the way it is with our faith.

Long after our bodies are gone, the impressions we are making today on God’s people will still remain.

Good impressions, and bad.

What impressions are we going to make today?

That’s an important question, because the impressions we make are going to far outlive our bodies.

Something to think about.

In Joy,

Tom


++++++++

This just in: the Health Department on Carter St. is giving away “hundreds” of COVID tests. Pick them up there during business hours. Thanks to Susan Hickman for this heads-up.


++++++++

How great was our Bell Choir last Sunday? Well done, y’all, specifically Camille Barkley!


++++++++

Remember that our big Church Wide Meeting to learn about the Disaffiliation Process will be held in the Sanctuary on Monday, October 17, at 6:30. Don’t settle for speculation and “what-if”. Let’s come and get the facts about what we’re talking about! Our nursery will be provided.


++++++++

This week, our Wednesday Night GAP Adult Bible Study will focus on the Call of Abram, Genesis 12:1-9. Do you think YOU could answer a vague call from God like that? Bring your Bible to the Gym at 6:00, and let’s get into it!

BTW, who have YOU invited to JOIN US at Wednesday Night GAP?


++++++++

 

Well, Friends, that’s about it for now. Have a great day, stay hydrated, and remember,

“He who governed the world before I was born shall take care of it likewise when I am dead. My part is to improve the present moment.”-John Wesley

 

Exploring Disaffiliation

FUMC MEMBERS PLEASE READ   

FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL
Mike Alef, Chairman

Re:  CHANGED MEETING DATE

(Copied from an email from the New Albany District)  


From: Cheryl Prather (newalbany@mississippi-umc.org)

Date: August 30, 2022 at 10:10:11 AM CDT

To: Mike Alef (malef@bnabank.com), Rev. Tom Potter (holyterror.tp@gmail.com)

Cc: Raigan Miskelly (rmiskelly@mississippi-umc.org)

Subject: Exploring Disaffiliation New Albany FUMC


Mike,

Per your request, we have moved New Albany FUMC’s disaffiliation exploration from Sunday, December 11 to Monday, October 17 at 6:30 pm.  After talking to Rev. Tom Potter, the meeting will be held in the sanctuary of New Albany FUMC.

At that time, the information you have requested regarding present procedures around various alternatives available to United Methodist congregations will be provided.  You are encouraged to invite all members and constituents of the congregation to attend this meeting.  This will allow everyone to hear the same information at the same time and to ask any questions they might have during our time together.  We anticipate the meeting will last approximately 90 minutes, 60 minutes for the presentation and 30 minutes for question and answer.

Our goal is to provide the congregation with all the information needed to prayerfully discern God’s will for the future ministry of New Albany First United Methodist Church.

Please let me know if you have any questions.  Thank you for your leadership and faithfulness.  Know Dr. Miskelly and I are praying for Rev. Potter and the precious congregation at New Albany FUMC.  Let us know how we can serve you and your congregation.

Blessings,

Cheryl