June 17, 2020 - Celebrations
When I woke up this morning I reflected on how the pandemic has impacted all of us in such a negative way. I also thought about how we have been able to celebrate even in the midst of a pandemic. To God be the glory! Since March 2020 the church has had to make some significant adjustments regarding worship and ministering. Even though we have not been able to enter the physical building since March, we have remained connected and creative in many respects. I have often said, "It is not what we do during this covid-19 season, it is how we do it."
I am grateful again that we have been able to celebrate our 2020 graduates from high school and college. We were able to become intimate with some of the graduations virtually. We again celebrate Jovon Jackson, Colton Campbell, Akilah Curtis, Jayvious Williams and Chloe Colbert. We pray nothing but the very best for each of you. There is a great big future awaiting you to take charge of. Please do not limit yourselves or reduce yourselves to mediocrity. God has a plan and purpose for each of you, now live it out to the fullest.
I can't help but go back to my retirement celebration that was held on Saturday, June 13, 2020. It was truly a celebration that will never be forgotten. I am just amazed at how many people attended the "Ride BY." It was a unique and phenomenal day. My life has been filled with celebrations and surprises and I thank, you, Grace UMC for being part of the recent magical day. Rhoda and I were just astounded by the creativity and thoughtfulness of Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) and its team of planners. Again, it could never be replicated or done with such love and compassion. We are grateful.
We have even been able to celebrate the Lord's Supper virtually. I thought our involvement with a Love Feast added an entire new dimension to our worship experience. It was the first time I had celebrated by way of a Love Feast, but there were so many positive remarks that you knew the celebration was different and appreciated. I think it provided an opportunity for family and friends to fellowship and communicate with one another even from a distance. All of us would agree that communion puts us in fellowship with our God in a very special way. As we go forward, remember these words: "For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed, He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way He took the cup, after supper saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 As you go forward, continue to celebrate the resurrection of our Jesus through the Lord's Last Supper.
Even though we were saddened by the death of family members and friends, we could still in our own unique way celebrate the lives of our loved ones in a very different way. We were not able to have our traditional funerals, but we were still able to show our love to family members. We will continue to hold dear and close to our hearts the following: Clifton Yorkman, Fannie Sharpe, Pearl Robinson, Cheryl Conway's cousin, Barbara Stevenson's brother, Sharon Cornnor Jackson's mother, Rudolph Robinson, Ernestine Tolson, Michael Warrick and Eunice Hooper. Our prayers continue to go out to the families.
Many birthdays came and went, but we still celebrated in a very different way. Give God thanks and praises for another year.
I invite you today to celebrate someone in a very special way. Celebrate that person as if you were celebrating yourself. Stay safe, wear masks, wear gloves and continue practicing social distancing.
"Then he said to them, "Go eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10
Not a sermon, just a thought!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor