Hi Five Oakers,
It's great to be home after a two-week vacation celebrating our thirty-fifth anniversary. Last Sunday we were worshiping in an eleventh-century chapel at a working abbey in Tuscany. It was a great vacation, but I kid you not when I say I'm so happy to be home and I can't wait to worship with you this weekend.
Summer is supposed to be a good time to get away. Very little happens in summer, right? Not this one.
I hated missing the fireworks event. Here's the report I received after the event:
1. Our best estimate was around 450-500 people attended. I was watching cars still driving in at 9:50.
2. Many new faces. Pam and I were greeting people as they entered, and we counted a lot of new people (mostly famlies).
3. Great fellowship. Everywhere you looked we saw groups of 10 or more people just hanging out and chatting. All ages were well represented in the crowd.
4. Lots of participation. The bean bag toss, rope ladder, four square, s'mores station, etc. all were in use for most of the night. Even after things got dark.
I hated missing that! Great thanks go to Pam Hawley and her Friday Fun Night team for pulling off such a fun event.
I'm sad I wasn't here to experience Warren Coe preaching a dialogical sermon. Now I might have the guts to do it too sometime. And I'm so sad I missed Dan preaching his first weekend sermon at Five Oaks. Can't wait to catch those two on our podcast.
I also hated missing the reception for Kent and Jeni. I hope they were blessed by the reception because they have blessed us in their ministries.
I've received some concerns voiced about all the recent staff transitions. Emails and conversations expressing, "What is the world!?" I completely understand. Each one of these transitions has made perfect sense on its own, but the timing of so many close together has been brutal.
I and many of you have grieved these transitions because many have resulted in moves and goodbyes to longtime colleagues and friends. When I came to Five Oaks in 1997, for example, Deb Carr was working for us already. Except for a few intervening years, she worked for Five Oaks most of my time here. She was a constant in my daily life at work. Now she and her family are in Florida. That's just one example. We're not use to it at Five Oaks, where we have had (and still do have) so many long-tenured staff.
We mean it when we ask you to contact us if you have concerns. Thank you to those of you who have. I've grieved and am still grieving, but I can't explain here how excited I am about the future of our church, the opportunities we have to staff for that future, and people and surprises God will bring along the way.
One more thing. While I was on vacation there was a major Supreme Court decision redefining marriage nationally that has probably left many of you with questions and concerns, given that the court's definition does not agree with what our church believes the Bible teaches about marriage. Being on vacation when it happened and then getting home to emails, sermon prep, planning meetings, and so much more, has meant I haven't been able to address what is on the mind of so many.
I will, in time, pass on some thoughts and resources. But for now I just want to remind you that our world is our mission field. "For God so loved the world that he gave" should ring in our hearts. Joy, sacrifice, service, and gospel proclamation are what impact lives and our world. We are called to bring truth AND grace to our minds, our actions, and our communities. And absolutely nothing surprises or flusters God.
Blessings, Pastor Henry
P.S. I'm preaching on 2 Samuel 6 this weekend. Uzzah touches the Ark of the Covenant and dies. David dances half naked in worship. Michal, David's wife (and Saul's daughter), mocks David's "worship style." One of the key biblical passages on God's holiness and our worship. Hope to see you this weekend if you're in town.