Flo Johnston Faith in Focus
March 27, 2014
It’s rumored that a new congregation of worshipers is now organizing in the Laurinburg area. Its core committee, a group calling themselves Nutt-Heads, is considering a name for a group of people who are followers of Jesus but do not want to fly a denominational flag.
One name under consideration is Wayside Chapel and the group already has a plan to promote themselves with a promo line: “Worship at Wayside with the Nutt-Heads.”
The committee has a notion that such a name would help them put forward an idea. A notion some would say is foolish — that having a place where anybody, young, old, black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, Republican, Democrat and the unaffiliated could drop in any time and find a cup of cool refreshing water as well as hot coffee, and a big vat of apples, oranges and red grapes, the ones po’ folks just say hello to as they pass by at Piggly Wiggly or Food Lion, could possibly attract them to come back on a Sunday and find living water. The kind you drink once and never thirst again.
OK, so Jesus said all this. But let’s get real, it failed to impress even his disciples enough to convince them to stick with him through the crucifixion. Maybe the disciples were not supportive of their teacher, but they learned as we have learned that there is great power in a belief, power enough to change a person’s life, power enough to change a world even.
Could a cool drink on a stressful day really attract someone to come back on Sunday to worship?
Young folks in Laurinburg are losing hope, unemployed folks are losing homes, children in Scotland County are going to bed hungry and law-makers representing people across the state are getting primed to go back to Raleigh to cut budgets in more of the wrong places.
Folks right here in this beautiful county need a sip of that cool water and a reminder of the Good News that God does care and that Jesus gave his life so even homeless people who live under bridges and in cardboard boxes can find redemption.
Is this Nutt-Head notion worth a second look? Take some time on April Fools’ Day to think it over.
Attendance picks up
Attendance at the Community Lenten Lunch at First United Methodist showed a bit of an upturn Wednesday. The Rev. Vermel Taylor of Galilee UMC led the meditation that began at noon. And about three tables of her members were there to hear the good word from their pastor.
I was impressed because no other speaker had gotten that kind of support in previous weeks. In fact, the event has not received much support at all across either denominational or racial lines.
Observing this kind of cultural divide in the 21st century is alarming. It is a stumbling block to real progress in a community where many people are suffering. And Christians are called to peace and unity, neither one of which is a guarantee but only comes as the result of effort on the part of all.
In a recent lectionary reading, Jesus was drinking water at a well with a Samaritan woman, an action that flew in the face of tradition .These days being intentional about making friends across denominational and racial lines might be considered the same kind of action, something not traditionally done.
Two UMC pastors were talking at the luncheon table Wednesday, one white, one black, about the possibility of a joint Bible School next summer.
Putting all the talents of two churches into the planning of such an endeavor could result in an event from which children could learn about life in the Kingdom, working and playing together, using facilities and leadership of inspired people from two churches to create opportunities neither church could muster alone.
What an opportunity for dynamic change! A model that might reconfigure the face of church life in Laurinburg.
If Christians here are ever going to find common ground on which to begin some kind of cooperative efforts, somebody needs to make a bold step.
Maybe that step is to support “community” efforts like the Community Lenten Lunches, even if the speakers are not all from your denomination and the food is Methodist food!
Following is the schedule through the end of the series.
All are set for noon on Wednesdays at First United Methodist in downtown and the speakers are:
April 2: Rev. Bobby Dean, Central United Methodist.
April 9: Rev. Billy Olsen, St. Luke United Methodist.
April 16: Rev. Jonathan Jeffries, First United Methodist.
Contact Flo Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 910-361-4135.