June 18, 2014

Dear Friends,

A stray kitten wandered into our lives last week. Or, more precisely, a stray kitten wandered onto church property last week and Sarah, always a softie for anything with pointy ears and a long tail, scooped her up and brought her home. Given her size and the earnestness of her meow, I am certain that she is not much more than six weeks old. And, in spite of our temptation to add a fourth cat to the mix, we’re going to give her away. Already have someone interested, but we will keep you in mind if it falls through :-).

You can learn a lot from the strays that cross your path. They come expecting little and are abundantly grateful to be included in your life. That goes for people too. I have become more and more convinced that people (most people anyway) choose friends and churches based on who shows the most interest. A person (or stray kitten) who has become accustomed to being ignored lights up when someone else takes notice. We might like to think that great music, engaging preachers and clean, safe nurseries are what draws people to churches. But I think that it very often really comes down to relationships. If you just show some interest, some genuine interest, the strays who come through the church door will adopt us. And it is always a two way street. We start out by sharing a bit of ourselves with them and soon find that this newcomer is a wonderful blessing to us.

Always be ready to welcome someone new into your life—especially if it is a “chance” encounter. The Master’s plan is always to bring people together in loving and faith filled friendships. The Body of Christ grows whenever our hearts and arms are open to the “strays” who wander into our lives.

One liner of the week: “I used to think of myself as indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.” Unknown

As always, if you are in need of pastoral care, please do feel free to call me at 432-853-2751.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

June 11, 2014

Dear Friends,

What is it about summer that makes everything feel so different? Most of us work most of the summer but there is that wonderful anticipation of a little time away. Away from regular routines, away from the intense heat and, mostly, away from RESPONSIBILITY. Who would have thought that when we grew up there would be so much expected of us and so little time to do it? And yet, being responsible feels good too. It means we are needed, valued and trusted. It means that our actions count in this world and that others depend on us.

But we don’t always live up to our responsibilities, do we? Worse than that, sometimes we even rebel against the expected and revel, if just for a moment, in the thought that everyone else can be responsible while we take a siesta. And sometimes the consequences of just letting it all go can follow us for a long time afterward.

Jesus stepped into this world of responsibility to take ultimate responsibility for our sin. As Romans 5:8 says: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He knows our frailties, heals our infirmities and dies for our iniquities. As we shed a bit of responsibility this Summer, know that Jesus is always at the Father’s right hand interceding for us and, through the Holy Spirit, making himself available to us in prayer. Often responsibility and privilege go hand in hand. Consider this: Jesus took ultimate responsibility for your sins so that you might enjoy the privilege of knowing his Father. Contemplate that on the beach or in the mountains or wherever you escape to this summer. Nothing is more refreshing to the heart than spending a little extra time with God.

One liner of the week: “When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.” Unknown

As always, if you are in need of pastoral care, please do feel free to call me at 432-853-2751.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

June 4, 2014

Dear Friends,

After the luncheon and parish meeting on Sunday, I had the privilege of visiting with one of our members about the reason he comes to church each week. He said “I go to church because it brings me peace inside and because it makes me a better person.” After I thought about it for awhile, I found myself agreeing with him entirely. Sure, we could add a lot of theology to that answer—things like “God deserves to be worshipped for who he is and what he has done in Christ” or “the gathered church is the chief sign of God’s kingdom in the world”—but, in the end, it’s really all about peace. Romans 5:1 says “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” You can feel that peace as you kneel in prayer or hear God’s word or sing one of the great hymns. The peace we feel in church is, in fact, the Peace of God. And who would doubt that God’s word challenges us to lead better lives? We all have a long way to go in the perfection department but you can be confident that you are a better person for having been in fellowship than if you had not been. Come to church seeking peace and to become a better person. The Lord can do a lot with a willing heart!

This week’s item for Jubilee Center is MACARONI AND CHEESE. A favorite of the clients and very filling. Try getting creative. You can always find animal shapes, organic grains and a variety of brands. Bring a box or bring a case. Let’s be part of God’s kindness to the poor.

Consider coming to the Pastor’s Roundtable this Sunday evening. Our topic is “The Meaning of the Eucharist (Holy Communion)” through the eyes of the Anglican Reformers. We’ll discuss why the meaning of communion was such a big deal to them that they were willing to break communion with Rome (sounds kind of backwards, doesn’t it?). See the sign up sheet at the back of the church Sunday.

Our mid week Bible Study at the Oknefski’s takes up the Old Testament prophet Habbakuk this evening. Never heard of him? No worries, most of the Wednesday regulars haven’t either. Come and we’ll explore his message together!

As always, if you are in need of pastoral care, please do feel free to call me at 432-853-2751.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

May 27, 2014

Dear Friends,

Thanks to all who were able to attend our congregational meeting on Sunday. Conversation was thoughtful and focused on God’s future for us as a Christian family. Since so many were travelling this past weekend, we will be holding another congregational meeting this coming Sunday. Bishop Mark Zimmerman will be with us and we will also share a light lunch before the meeting itself begins.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the role of forgiveness among Christians. Genuine forgiveness is a scary concept for many of us because it begins with judgment. In order to forgive another, you must first conclude that the other has sinned against you. And, quite often, your own sin in mixed in with the sin of the other and the whole thing just gets a bit overwhelming. So instead of forgiving, we might look for others who will be offended for us so that we can be affirmed in our feelings. Believe me, I’ve been there before. Maybe you have too.

But what does it mean to really forgive? True forgiveness involves releasing the other person from the obligation to heal the wound the he or she has caused in you. It is always easier to forgive when we hear the other say “I’m sorry” but we don’t often get that opportunity. Most of our forgiving happens whether or not the other acknowledges fault or responds by forgiving us. Like Jesus when he prayed “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing,” we choose to release others from paying for their sins simply for love’s sake. At first, it can feel pretty unsatisfying to forgive someone who doesn’t “deserve it,” but, in the long run, it sets us free to enjoy our Christian relationships and grow even deeper in fellowship.

This past fall, the Vestry discussed once again the meaning of Matthew 18:15-17. While the kind of genuine forgiveness just described will bring healing to most of the daily wounds we receive at the hands of others, sometimes a more direct accountability will necessary if the relationship is to be preserved or the sinner helped. This is the purpose Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18. I have attached a copy of a brief paper about this prepared for last October’s Vestry meeting. You may find it to be a helpful guide if simply forgiving without engaging the other is not a reasonable option for you.

Please note that the Pastor’s Roundtable has been moved to Sunday, June 8th at 6:30pm.

As always, if you are in need of pastoral care, please do feel free to call me at 432-853-2751.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

May 20, 2014

Dear Friends,

Often we wonder what effect the church is having on our kids. When they fidget in the pews or ask to go to the bathroom for the second time, it does cause us to ask “Is anything getting through?” What a joy it is, then, to receive feedback from our younger members about something said in the pulpit or prayed at the altar. This past Sunday, Michael Brenner presented me with the sum of his reflections on my message in doodle form (see attachment!).   He heard me talking about the journey to “find” ourselves so he envisioned a boat on the sea with a great wave crashing against it. While I spoke of us as “living stones” being built into a spiritual house (1st Peter 2:5), Michael drew a great stone castle with each of us as an integral part. He is a promising young artist but, more than that, he has the eyes of faith and a heart that is teachable. May God bless him and all of our young people as they grow in grace and maturity among us.

Many thanks to everyone who made our luncheon in honor of Savannah Cantwell so beautiful and delicious. What a glorious occasion! This is us at our best when we support one of our own ready to step into the wider world. So many willing hands were involved and so much love was shared.

One liner of the week: “Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the edge of the pool and throw fish?”

As always, if you are in need of pastoral care, please do feel free to call me at 432-853-2751.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

 

May 13, 2014

Dear Friends,

This coming Sunday we will enjoy a wonderful outdoor luncheon in the walled courtyard down the hallway to the left as you enter the front doors.  The occasion is the graduation of Savannah Cantwell, daughter of Robin and Kasey Vasicek.  Preparations are well underway and the whole church is invited to enjoy one another after church.Congratulations to Savannah and many thanks to all who have a hand in preparing for Sunday.

Jubilee Center is having its annual fundraiser golf tournament this coming Friday at Hogan Park Golf Course.  It’s not too late to sign up to play or to volunteer to serve behind the scenes.  Two table have also been reserved for the barbecue, music and auction beginning around 6:00pm.  There is even a petting zoo for the animal lovers among us! You need not volunteer or golf to take part.Contact Greg Clark, Director of Jubilee, for more information: 432-251-9000.

If you have a little time this week (6:00pm this evening or 4:00pm tomorrow), consider helping Marianne Finnie create the centerpieces for the tables at the dinner and auction.She works as a floral designer so you might even pick up a few tips for your own creative arrangements.Please do bring a glue gun and wire cutters if you have them.

One liner of the week: “The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

As always, if you are in need of pastoral care, please do feel free to call me at 432-853-2751.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

May 5, 2014

Dear Friends,

Many of you heard on Sunday of the passing of Nancy Fulgham, a founding member of All Saints and the much loved wife of Roe. Nancy was such a warm and gracious person. We will miss her. The Fulgham family will be receiving visitors at Myers and Smith Funeral Home, 301 East 24th Street in Big Spring on Tuesday evening from 6:00pm until 8:00pm. A funeral service is planned for Wednesday at 2:00pm, also at Myers and Smith. Roe’s address is 308 Washington Boulevard, Big Spring 79720 should you wish to send him a card. Rest eternal grant to her, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercies of God, rest in peace.

In the midst of the Easter season, we have been reading and studying passages related to the resurrection of Christ. This is the Gospel, not only that Jesus died for our sins, but also that he was raised. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 4:25 that Jesus was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” I guess anyone could claim to die for another’s sins, but should that same person be raised from the dead and appear to over 500 people (1st Corinthians 15), then there is certain proof that his death in fact counted for something. So our sins are forgiven in his death and his promise of eternal life was made certain in his resurrection. That joyful reality is unfolding before Nancy as I write this. In the fullness of time, we all will see for ourselves what we have believed in our hearts.

This coming Sunday (Second Sunday!), we will be receiving donations of canned fruit for Jubilee Center.

One liner of the week: “The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it.”  Joan Rivers

As always, if you are in need of pastoral care, please do feel free to call me at 432-853-2751.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

April 30, 2014

Dear Friends,

This Friday and Saturday, Gary Oknefski, Teresa Sheppard and I will be in Sacramento, New Mexico representing All Saints at the annual Diocesan Synod (convention).  At that meeting, we will approve a diocesan budget, hear reports from our new Bishop and Standing Committee, elect new diocesan officers and pray and plan together for the Anglican Church in New Mexico and West Texas.  For those who are curious, Sacramento is in the mountains south of Cloudcroft.  We will be at the Methodist retreat center there.  Our new bishop, Mark Zimmerman, will be visiting us in late August and will return sometime in early December for confirmation and the reception of new members.

If you are a golfer, or just a fan of Jubilee Center, please do consider attending the Farm to Fairway fundraiser event on Friday, May 16th at Hogan Park.  There will also be wonderful music provided by members of our music team and an auction afterward.  If you are a golfer, sign up a foursome!  If you just have a little time that afternoon, let Greg Clark know you are available to volunteer.  See the Jubilee Center website at jubileemidland.org for more details.

One liner of the week: “Age is an issue of mind over matter: If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”  (Mark Twain)

As always, if you are in need of pastoral care, please do feel free to call me at 432-853-2751.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

February 25, 2014

Dear Friends,

Many thanks to Fr. Steve Kelley for stepping in at the last hour to lead our worship on Sunday.  I went to bed Saturday night feeling fine and woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach bug that commanded all of my attention for the next 24 hours.  Fortunately, Fr. Steve answered my call at 7:00am and certainly rose to the occasion.  If you weren’t in church Sunday, you will certainly want to hear his message at midlandanglican.org.

Thanks also to all who could join us for spring cleaning this past Saturday.  Fifteen hearty souls from all three churches created about 75 large lawn bags of leaves, garbage and other debris from the gardens and courtyards.  It made a real difference to the appearance of things! Now, if our West Texas wind would just stop blowing for a season….

Please do be praying about the “New Opportunities for Fellowship and Learning” offerings shown below.  Launched just in time for Lent, they promise to bring great blessing to all who choose to make them a priority.  It is always worthwhile to busy ourselves with things that have an eternal significance.

MID-WEEK BIBLE STUDY AT THE OKNEFSKI’S, WEDNESDAY AT 6:30PM.

We begin this week with Hebrews, chapter 11, the “Faith Hall of Fame.”  This is the moving account of those who held firm to their faith before the coming of Christ.  Join us at 2201 Hereford Avenue.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR FELLOWSHIP AND LEARNING

Monday Evening Fellowship: Mondays at 6:00pm, beginning on March 10th.   A typical evening will run from 6:00 pm until 7:15 with dinner out afterward for those who wish.  Our study during Lent will be the Apostle John’s account of the last hours of Jesus’ life (John 13-18).  If you are thinking of coming, please do add your name to the sign-up sheet this Sunday.

Dinner and Devotions for Families: Alex Hale is working on launching a new fellowship for families with kids.  This group will also meet at 6:00pm (night to be determined) with separate dinner and devotions for adults and kids.  We will end by 7:15 so that the kids will have time to  finish homework and get to bed at a reasonable hour.

ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES, 9:15AM

·       Philippians and the Theology of Joy: (Fr. Tom in his office)

·       Found in Him: (Brad Watson in Room 101)

AND FINALLY:

·      Joke of the Week: It may surprise you to learn that the term “Bible” is actually an acronym.  It stands for Basic Information Before Leaving Earth.  Even if that didn’t make you smile, it should make you think!

·      If you are in need of pastoral care, you can reach me at 432-853-2751. Please don’t hesitate to call.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom

February 18, 2014

Dear Friends,

Just a few more weeks and the season of Lent will begin.  Lent is a time of change when we take stock of our relationships with God and one another.  And, by God’s grace, we find power to make the changes that will keep us growing in the coming year.

To help with that process, we are offering two new opportunities:

New Small Group Fellowship: Mondays at 6:00pm, beginning on March 10th.  Much like our Wednesday evening group at the Oknefski’s, this group with meet for Bible study, prayer, mutual support and friendship—but at the church rather than in a private home.  A typical evening will run from 6:00 pm until 7:15 with the likelihood that many will then go out to enjoy a simple meal afterward. This group will not replace the Wednesday group but will provide a new opportunity for those not yet connected. Our study during Lent will be the Apostle John’s account of the last hours of Jesus’ life (John 13-20).

Dinner and Devotions for Families: This group for families will meet weekly at the church for an hour or so and will include a dinner, a brief devotional, discussion and prayer.  While the adults meet in the Fellowship Hall, the children and teenagers will share dinner with me and another adult in the wonderful youth area on the second floor of the Education Wing.  After dinner, and their own devotional time, they can enjoy pool, ping pong, video games and other fun activities with their friends.  This new group is being brought together by Alex Hale who will be glad to share the details with you.

MID-WEEK BIBLE STUDY AT THE OKNEFSKI’S, WEDNESDAY AT 6:30PM.

We begin with Hebrews 9.  Hebrews speaks of moving from elementary teaching onto maturity.  That will be the focus of our study in the weeks to come. As always, dinner is provided for those who can stay.  Join us at 2201 Hereford Avenue.

ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES, 9:15AM

·Philippians and the Theology of Joy: The apostle Paul brings up the idea of joy 16 times in this brief letter from prison. Ready for a little joyful living in the midst of life’s struggles?  Join us Sunday morning.  (Fr. Tom in his office)

·Found in Him: We were lost.  Now we are found…in Him.  Everyone has experienced isolation and alienation.  We lost more than a nice home when we were banished from Eden’s garden.  We lost relationship with God and with each other.  But then God did the unimaginable.  God the Son lived and died for us so that we might be reunited to Him. In this class, we will explore the wonder of the incarnation and the glory of our union with Christ. (Brad Watson in Room 101)

CHURCH SPRING CLEANING! THIS SATURDAY FEBRUARY 22ND, 8:00AM.

Our three congregations will work together that morning on a number of indoor and outdoor projects.  We begin with a few minutes around the coffee pot (and donut tray!) and then we’ll dive right in.  If you would like to work inside, bring a bucket of cleaning supplies and a paint brush if you have one.  If outside is more your speed, bring a rake, gloves and maybe a shovel.  This is a good opportunity to beautify our facilities while getting to know your fellow worshippers a little better.

PHOTO DIRECTORY PICTURES THIS SUNDAY AFTER CHURCH!

If you missed your chance last Sunday, we’ll be taking pictures again after church this Sunday.  Immediately after church, go to Room 2 which is just down the hall from where we worship. There are no photos to buy but we will gladly forward a copy via email if you like.

CONSECRATION OF FR. MARK ZIMMERMAN TO BE BISHOP OF THE SOUTHWEST, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28TH, 6:00PM IN EL PASO

So far, nine of us are making plans to drive to El Paso for this once a decade event. If you would like to travel with us, give me a call and we’ll add you to the mix.  We’ll be staying in a downtown hotel within walking distance of St. Clements, the place where he will be consecrated (ordained).

AND FINALLY:

·      Joke of the Week: This one was passed along by our very own Fr. Steve Kelly:

On Sunday after church a man walks up to the pastor and says,“Pastor, will you pray for my hearing?” The Pastor says yes and gathers the elders of the church together. They pray, and they pray, and they pray. After about 20 minutes of praying, the pastor asks the man, “How’s your hearing now? He says, “Well how should I know Pastor, it ain’t ‘til next Tuesday!”

·      If you are in need of pastoral care, you can reach me at 432-853-2751. Please don’t hesitate to call.

Your fellow servant,

Fr. Tom