Pirate Ships and Christmas Programs: Dec 4th - 10th

This Week & Beyond...

Hey everyone!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post!!  I just wanted to touch base with you and confirm what you may have heard at the budget meeting this Tuesday night...

Yes...I will be taking a leave of absence for 3 months starting in the new year.  As part of the pastoral position at Calvary, you're entitled to sabbatical every 6 years.  Over the last year, through much dialogue and prayer with the elders, it has become clear that a 3 month break this winter would be beneficial.

Now being on sabbatical most definitely doesn't mean sitting around doing nothing.  It's the opposite really.  While being full of "rest", it is very high on being purposeful in seeking the Lord through relational context as well as study.  I will be spending most days studying the Word and reading, and seeking him through personal devotion, singing, praying, and other various ways in which I meet with Jesus.  I'm super excited!  In addition to this, taking time to be with Michelle and the kids, and doing some creative stuff, is on the agenda!

My goal is to come back changed!  Not just rested up, but, launching into a new season of life!

While I'm away, Tony, Lisa, and Corinne have graciously agreed to take up the leading slack.  Please feel free to ask them your questions and encourage them as the serve more often than usual!

I understand this is a brief snapshot of what's to come, so, please feel free to pull me aside and ask anything you wish.

Blessings,
Gregory

Devotional...

Pirate Ships and Christmas Programs
by Carlene Archer, Chatsworth, Georgia  

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed." (Isaiah 28:16)

One Christmas Eve, my husband and I purchased an elaborate pirate ship for our 5-year-old son. The store display was amazing; my husband played with the dazzling construction of plastic, string, and metal rings until I made him stop. The ship came with a crow's nest, cannons to aim, and lots of deck room for pirate battles. There were pirates sporting plastic bandannas, a treasure chest with "real" plastic treasure, and even a parrot perched upon the shoulder of one of the swarthy "mates."

We didn't realize, however, that all this pirate glory would cost us more than our store receipt indicated. When we opened the box, we discovered that the ship came with "some assembly required." There were hundreds of pieces in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and types of material. We separated the bags of parts into piles on the floor. The directions seemed useless, as my "general manager" of the construction project tried desperately to fit Flap A into Slot B, and to connect the round gizmo to the square whatchamacallit. The possibility of this entire project ever coming together to make something resembling a pirate ship seemed pretty dismal.

As a music director, one of the highlights of my year is selecting music and dramas for the Advent/Christmas season. I enjoy browsing on-line, shopping in our local music supplier's warehouse, flipping through musicals, humming tunes to myself, contemplating chosen Scriptures, and reveling in the process. So much cool music! So much great potential! It all sounds so wonderful on those demo CDs! It all seems so "doable."

So I leave the warehouse with a full bag, and, the next thing I know, I'm sitting with the Christmas teams at our season kickoff party. We eat pizza and sing along with wonderful new tunes. We laugh at the hysterical lines in the drama and wipe tears at the poignancy of the final moments we plan for the program's finale.

Before I know it, October is here. The music and drama selections have been shredded into pieces for each rehearsal. My set-design person, so enthusiastic at Labor Day, has vanished like a ghost by Halloween. The 5-part harmony, so inspiring on the CD, is sounding...well...about a part and a half short. To my dismay, the Christmas season services lie disassembled, like our son's pirate ship. In the store, it was so cool...so workable...so complete!

At this stage in the preparation, songs lie around me like Flap A's needing Slot B's. I wonder if the scattered and tattered components will ever resemble anything close to that heady, shopping-day dream.

We all face disappointments at times. So in the face of our dreams being reduced to something less than we had envisioned, what should our reaction be? Do we lapse into discouragement? Do we pass the blame to circumstances or to people who were less committed than we had thought? When push comes to shove, are we placing our trust in our own talent and abilities or our talented coworkers?

Those are easy traps to fall into. Instead, though, we should return to the reason behind the things we do. We must rely on our foundation -- Jesus Christ -- for the strength and perseverance to see the project through. We must trust that He will speak to hearts through our efforts. As God said through Isaiah, if we put our trust in Him, we will never be dismayed. He has laid the foundation. He will make certain that His work in us and through us will accomplish the things He desired.

GOING DEEPER: 
1. Have you ever experienced your own pirate ship debacle experience? Share about it.
2. How do you keep your joy, determination and vision during difficult times?
3. The opening Scripture tells us that if we trust in the Lord, we will never be dismayed. Let's agree together to help one another trust when we find that individually challenging.