Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7
It may have been a longer-than-usual summer around here, but this week I’m checking off a couple of hopeful signs that fall is in the air.
First, our high temperatures are back to the mid and low 80’s; then – and this one is huge – Sunday it was Rally Day at WFPC and the church is rocking with excitement, anticipation, hope, and promise.
Officially, Rally Day launches the 2016-17 education year: Discipleship classes, small groups, youth kick-off, confirmation getting under way, His Kids, SHINE, Wednesday Nights Together… you name it…
More than that, however, bigger than even the sum collection of everything, what we did yesterday was to rally around Jesus, rally around hope, rally around new life, rally around promise.
bigger than even the sum collection of everything, what we did yesterday was to rally around Jesus, rally around hope, rally around new life, rally around promise.
There is an amazing energy when a room full of people join hearts and minds to worship together. We don’t all know God in the same way, we’re in different places in our spiritual walks, we’re all over the map politically, and we own strong and contrary opinions about pretty much anything and everything. But we’re united in Jesus. We love God, and we gather together to encourage one another in this ongoing adventure of faith.
After church there were mission projects, there was fellowship, and then there was a “ministry fair” highlighting the literally scores of opportunities offered here to learn, to serve, and to reach out in the loving, forgiving, invitational name of Jesus.
Then – and this was a fun experiment I wish more people had participated in – we did a “group photo” courtesy of a drone camera expertly operated by Luke Reynolds, one of the young parents in our church family.
I quickly jumped on to a chair to grab this picture (left), and then we all squinted into the sun to watch the drone fly around like a giant mosquito, capturing spectacular images I couldn’t even have imagined. I’ve credited Luke in the watermarks, but I think it’s obvious which ones come from him.
Luke gave me permission to use a few of the amazing photos he took over and around the church campus yesterday (enjoy this one – taken in the evening… then I’ll write a little more… then you can see 20 photos below).
I think one of the reasons Rebekah and I fell in love with (and are continually falling in love with) this community, is the spirit of belief and promise that seems to permeate everything about Wake Forest Presbyterian Church.
It’s not because we’re blind optimists, or Pollyanna, or lucky (Lord knows there has been enough struggle and heartbreak around here in the recent past); no, it’s because we believe; it’s because we know that it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus; it’s because God is a God of promise and possibility; it’s because:
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord…” (Romans 8:37-39)
We worship the God of promise, and affirmation, and possibility. That’s why it’s so easy to have open hearts that rejoice!
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.