NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR OCTOBER 19, 2014
This Sunday Covenant will have its annual congregation meeting, electing board members, a delegate and passing a 2015 budget. I will also talk about our need to reimagine what the future vision of Covenant will be. A Task Force is being formed with a Growth and Strategy Team. Our aim is to look at Covenant’s vision, goals, priorities and processes and then poise Covenant for a bright future with hope and promise. Along the way we know there will be “growing pains.” There always is when a church goes through this much needed and necessary visioning, growth and strategy process.
I noticed growing pains for churches in the Bible, especially in all of the churches to which the Apostle Paul wrote in His Epistles. In the lectionary assigned reading for this week, we read about good examples of growing pains. Paul writes to the Christians in the church at Thessalonica and says “As a result (of their growing pains), you have become an example to all the believers …. As Covenant enters this critical and much needed process, I’m asking each of us to likewise be “A Good Example of Growing Pains” as were the Thessalonian Christians.
In my readings this week, I came across a story about the late Danny Thomas that certainly qualifies as being “A Good Example of Growing Pains.” The story said: Danny Thomas lost his life savings of $600.00 at a time when he was out of work. He and his wife, Rosie, had a baby on the way, and they needed money. Danny worked at part-time jobs so Rosie could buy groceries. He also borrowed money from friends. It was a tough time in his life. A week before the baby was born, Danny had the grand total of seven dollars and eighty-five cents to his name. What would he do? “My despair led me to my first exposure to the powers of faith,” Danny would later recall.
On Sunday morning Danny went to church. When the offering plate was passed he put in his “usual $1.” But something unexpected happened that day. A special missions offering was taken. The priest explained where the mission offering would go. Danny felt he had to give something. He said, “I got carried away, and ended up giving my $7.” He had given away all his money that Sunday. What in the world had he done? He walked up to the altar rail, got on his knees and prayed aloud. “Look, I’ve given my last 7 bucks,” he prayed. “I need it back tenfold because I’ve got a kid on the way and I have to pay the hospital bill.” He went home with a mere 85 cents in his pocket – all the money he had in the world. Danny later wrote “You won’t believe this, but the next morning the phone rang in the rooming house hall.” It was a job offer. He was offered a part in a commercial. The job wasn’t much but the pay was good – $75. Danny remembered, “I literally dropped the telephone receiver. First I whooped with joy; then an eerie feeling came over me.” He remembered what he had prayed at church the day before. He said, “The $75-dollar fee, unheard of for me at that time, was almost exactly ten times the amount of money I had donated to the church.”
The important truth about this story is not that Danny Thomas received a tenfold return on his money. He might have done just as well at the racetrack. The important thing was his “exposure to the powers of faith” that caused Danny Thomas to be “A Good Example of Growing Pains.” This, in turn, led him to a lifelong commitment to God. Those of you who know his story know that St. Jude’s Hospital for Children in Memphis, Tennessee stands today as silent testimony to that commitment that resulted from his simply being “A Good Example of Growing Pains.
As the Pastor of Covenant and as we enter this time of discernment for the future of Covenant, there will be “growing pains.” However, like the Thessalonian Christians, let our commitment cause us to be “A Good Example of Growing Pains.” Join us for worship this Sunday, with dinner and then our Congregational Meeting to follow. I will be preaching on “A Good Example of Growing Pains” from I Thessalonians 1:1-8.