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Written by Rev. Dr. Tom MacMillan
On October 12, our Nicaragua mission team visited a barrio near the Esteli community dump. Families had been resettled from two barrios into a single community with 130 new government-provided, cinder block homes. The one-room homes have no electricity or running water but they are secure and much better than where people had been living.
As we arrived in the barrio we noticed a group of older teens on a hillside looking down at the activity. They seemed detached, and people in the barrio told us repeatedly that they were dangerous.
I’m not sure if it was the singing or the sight of the soccer ball Mario bought and brought to the barrio, but something drew the gang to our gathering. About that same time when we were beginning our story to the children, followed by the craft, the sky started pouring down rain. We quickly loaded 40-50 children onto our bus, where they seemed completely happy making necklaces and bracelets out of colorful beads. Alec, however, remained outside as the “dangerous” gang descended from the hills.
In no time a soccer game developed on the muddy road and laughter seemed to fill the air. Eventually the rain let up and most of us filed off the bus to distribute Frisbees and bubbles to the children. Suddenly the soccer game came to a halt and gang members turned soccer stars now became curious as to how these colorful round disks worked. They laughed at and with each other as members of our team began throwing and fetching Frisbees with them for the next hour. The culminating picture was watching some of these “dangerous” teens, dripping wet from the rain, muddy from the soccer game, carrying a Frisbee, and gazing with child-like wonder into their own bag of beads.
And Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 19:14).
Book Discussions at John Knox
Consider the birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible, by Debbie Blue
Readers who think they have no interest in birds should not be deterred. Yes, Blue writes about ten different birds in the Bible, from pigeons to ravens, but the book is about what birds can teach us about life and God.
Thursday, November 20, 7:30 pm in the Gallery
Benediction, by Kent Haruf
From the beloved and best-selling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes a story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado. Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way
October Pastor's Page
Over the summer I had the chance to visit a number of Presbyterian churches in our Presbytery. One of the most memorable services was at Calvary New Life Presbyterian Church at 2020 East 79th and Euclid in Cleveland. When it came time for the offering, Rufus, a good friend of mine, came to the pulpit. He looked out and asked the congregation, “Brothers and sisters, do you know what time it is?” Without missing a beat, in unison they responded with a shout, “It’s offering time!” Then they all started to applaud. Rufus smiled, and continued the dialogue, “That’s right. It’s offering time and we get excited about offering time.” The congregation kept applauding and talking among themselves, affirming this great chance to give and participate in the good work of God.
For the first time, it dawned on me—that’s the way it ought to be. We ought to get fired up about offering time. We ought to get excited every time we have a chance to be generous. It is our moment to step up and step out, to make a difference where we can and to shape a better world for God’s glory.
Through the month of October we are walking the ancient path of generosity. The pathway of gratitude from September leads right into this pathway of generosity. Think about it. When we are grateful, when we are aware of the countless blessings and provisions of our God, we get motivated to share these blessings. If we’re not grateful, then it’s going to be hard to get fired up about offering time. We live more in the illusion of scarcity than the assurance of God’s sure provision. G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.”
When our hearts are filled with gratitude, then we can’t help but be generous and we actually kind of enjoy it. We enjoy baking a cake for someone who is lonely, we enjoy building a Habitat house, we enjoy filling out a pledge card on October 26 for Dedication Sunday, because we know our gifts are making a difference. Lives are being changed, faith is being shared, God’s good work continues to reform and refine our world.
Phil Olson once wrote, “A conversion of the heart is needed before a conversion of the wallet can take place. Christian stewardship has to do with what we give of what we have, what we do with what we keep, and what we plan for what we leave.”
It’s offering time!
9:30 am and 11:00 am
JOHN KNOX UPCOMING EVENTS
Inquirer Class Begin
9:00-10:00 am Lounge
7:30 PM Gallery
(Consider the Birds:
A Provocative Guide to
Birds of the Bible
by Debbie Blue)
Due date for college
October 28, 29, 31
Trick or Treat Street
call church for times
Proceeds received from the GFS
Fun Fund Program are used to
help support the annual youth
summer mission trip.
JKC's Organization # 2324060
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