Dear First Pres Family,
Very few people don’t love summer. This season means relaxing, refreshing destinations, time outdoors, and so much more. Growing up it meant vacation from school and a sense of freedom. Even when adult life begins and moves along, that ingrained sense of freedom in the summer remains for most of us.
It is wonderful to be in a church body like First Pres that both embraces the joys of summer and seeks to be engaged in meaningful and enriching activity. Yes, our summer worship schedule switched to a service on Wednesday (the last one is this week) and one service on Sunday (through 8/12.) But worship is still vibrant, challenging and something missed if you are not there.
This last Sunday, due to Chris being under the weather during the week, we took a short and unintentional break from our series on James. This series has been on Practical Instruction for Pressured People. So in that spirit we still dove into practical instruction with the focus being forgiveness. When it comes to day to day peaceful living with God and those around us, it doesn’t get much more practical, and essential, than that. If you happened to miss it, you can listen to it here…
Forgiveness is a gift of inestimable value offered to us in Christ. Forgiveness is also a gift that we are compelled to extend to and receive from others. As we strive to exercise our bodies and minds, let us be deliberate in exercising forgiveness within our lives. Who have I wronged? Who do I need to forgive? Take time to be aware of the hurt you feel and the hurt have inflicted on others; and take steps towards reconciliation. I closed my message on Sunday with the words of writer George Herbert: “He who cannot forgive others destroys the bridge over which he too must pass.”
There were a few other notables with our morning together on Sunday. There was a rich time of prayer with many people sharing moving prayer concerns, we listened to a report from Blake Riboli, Erin Mote and Matthew Novaria on their team’s trip to the DR and that same team hosted a lunch and silent auction which was both very fun and successful. The morning had some great energy and a sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Whenever I miss worship, I am glad for my opportunity to be away on vacation or doing something meaningful. But I am always grateful for a sense that I missed out on something in worship, for our church community was gathered and God was at work. As is always the case, this has been true in the last few months:
- Many of us have been hanging out with our kids and other kids over the summer, and a month ago 270 kids were loved and served at VBS by over 50 volunteers at First Pres.
- A good number of us have been enjoying exotic lands, and this church was represented by a team of 18 serving at Kids Alive in the Dominican Republic.
- Some of us have been enjoying our western National Parks, and this church was represented by a team of 21 serving with Dakota Partners at the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.
- Lots of us are out for great runs, walks or bike rides regularly, and 90 riders and a few dozen volunteers will take part in less than two weeks in PIM’s Bike to the Lake to support a great school and its new STEM Center in Kamwenge, Uganda.
- Most of us enjoy good old parades, and this church welcomed hundreds of folks to its lawns and cooked up over 400 hot dogs to serve our neighbors and raise fund for PADS over the 4th.
- And what is not to love with activities like bouncy houses, games, BBQ’s and of course getting our picture taken with a neighborhood police car; but in a week dozens from the church will serve at National Night Out developing relationships with some of our neighbors in Carol Stream in conjunction with Outreach Community Ministries.
So many good things are ours, personally and corporately, in these months. Let’s rejoice together in the joys and freedom of summer. But let’s express our gratitude to God that we get to be part of a church community that is also engaged in rich and meaningful activities and relationships. We are privileged to make connections with those who are our neighbors in DuPage County and our neighbors in other parts of this country and across the globe.
Grateful to be in this church community with you,
Associate Pastor for Congregational Care