NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR COVENANT’S 35th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2016

This Second Sunday in Lent, we will celebrate Covenant’s 35th Anniversary! The assigned Gospel Lesson has a special meaning for me as it comes right after a stretch of days that have 4 significant dates about Mom: her death (2/12), her burial (2/15), her and Dad’s anniversary (2/18) and her birthday (2/19). In the text, Jesus longs to gather the people of Jerusalem together like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings to protect them. The people, however, are having none of it.

I read a wonderful interpretation of this passage. Barbara Brown Taylor, in one of her sermons on this scripture, notes, “If you have ever loved someone you could not protect, then you understand the depth of Jesus’ lament. All you can do is open your arms. You cannot make anyone walk into them. The most vulnerable posture in the world is to stand wings spread, breast exposed, but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand.”

I can remember, even 26 years after her death, many times Mama was doing what Jesus was doing that day; standing vulnerable, arms spread and breast exposed but as a Mom, she meant what she said in telling us “I love you. You’re mine and you can always come home.” In the midst of this stretch of days, I attended the funeral of a dear friend’s Mother in Hartford, AL and officiated the funeral of another friend’s Mother in Gardendale, AL. Yet I was still able to remember with joy that this is how my Mom, James Ella Reid Finney, stood for us, her children, vulnerable, arms spread and breast exposed. As such, I celebrated these days for they reminded me that every day that I had with her was a gift and I must do what she always did for us, pay it forward in service to others. Truly as a Mom, she meant what she said!

26 years after My Moms death, I’m the pastor of Covenant as we celebrate Covenant’s 35th Anniversary. We are called to remember that Jesus meant what He said in expressing God’s love for us and standing in the gap for us. Let’s not be like those in the gospel text and have none of it. “IN THIS DAY,” let’s joyfully accept the fact that as a congregation God is calling us forward to celebrate every day in the life of Covenant as a gift from God and to pay it forward in service to others.

Also, as we celebrate Covenant’s 35th anniversary, we are reminded that while “IN THIS DAY,” the techniques used to make our vision and mission a reality changes. However, the vision and mission have not. In our vision, we still seek to be “An inclusive community of faith – Offering Hope + Showing Faithfulness + Sharing Joy.” In our mission, we still exist to: “Celebrate the love of God, Cultivate personal relationships with God, Care about one another in Christ, and Communicate Christ to all people.”

So join us for a very special day in the life of Covenant this Sunday as we celebrate our 35th Anniversary. It begins with worship at 10 AM, with a sermon from our anniversary guest preacher, Rev’d Dr. Wendy R. Coleman, preaching a sermon from Isaiah 12:1-6 titled “IN THIS DAY…” “Jason and DeMarco” along with our own “Glory” quartet will be providing special music. Then immediate after morning worship, join us in the Fellowship Hall for a sit down dinner. Then join us again as we cap our 35th Anniversary celebration with a Jason and DeMarco concert at 6 PM.

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