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Being Open

One of the things I love about this church is our openness. Several years ago, The United Methodist Church developed a motto that you may have seen on church signs, television commercials and publications: “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.” I always liked that description of the UMC, and I’m so glad to be part of a congregation that truly embodies openness.

Christ UMC is a congregation that is open in so many ways: open to new ideas, new ministries, new people, and new ways of worshiping. We are open with our hearts, with our minds, with our hands…and even with our building. Did you know that there are ministries going on in our building every day of the week? Did you know that there are 12-step groups, watercolor classes and a home school band that meet here every week? There are community groups and Bible studies and prayer groups and scrapbooking groups. The list goes on and on.

Last week, I ran into a cousin of mine walking through the halls. She was here to help organize a debate tournament that’s taking place in our church in a few weeks. She went on and on about how gracious everyone had been and how she felt the spirit of Christ so powerfully in this place. I was glad to hear that this congregation’s hospitality was real and alive.

One of the benefits of being open and sharing our building and ministry with others is that we get unique opportunities to
connect with others in the body of Christ. I want to tell you about two upcoming events that highlight our “connectedness.”

As you may know, there is an Anglican congregation that worships in the sanctuary on Saturday afternoons. For the second year in a row, we will join with them in an Ash Wednesday service. This year’s service is on February 22. We will share in a simple meal of beans and rice beforehand in order to remember the poor across the world whose primary diet consists of rice and beans. Then at 6:30 we’ll move into the sanctuary. Rev. Kenny Benge, pastor of the St. John’s congregation, will be preaching. He and I will preside together at the communion table, and our congregations will join together in receiving communion and the imposition of ashes. I hope you’ll plan to begin the 40-day season of Lent with this powerful experience of worship.

Then on Sunday, February 26, at 6:00 pm our congregation will join with the Wesley Foundation at Tennessee State University in hosting the second annual Black History Celebration. We will gather in the sanctuary to worship and honor five “Living Legends,” African-American leaders who have made a lasting impact in our community. This was an amazing and powerful service last year—just ask the members of the choir! I hope you’ll mark your calendars and plan to be there.

Having “open hearts, open minds, and open doors” gives us so many opportunities to worship, learn and serve. I thank God for your openness, and I look forward to sharing God’s love and ministry with you and all of God’s people over the next few weeks.