So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…” – Genesis 1:27-28
This weekend Rebekah and I drove three hours across the state – just the other side of Charlotte – where she was invited to preach for a special “Celebration of Women” service at First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia.
She doesn’t often accept “guest preacher” requests because, well, it’s usually a Sunday morning and we want to be here at WFPC. But she did a summer ministry in Gastonia in 1979 and the community has an important place in her journey.
The Gastonia Presbyterians shared genuine and generous hospitality, and we had a great weekend. Saturday evening’s dinner (thanks Margaret, Spurgeon, Janet, and Bob) was a rich experience of koinonia, the people were receptive and welcoming at Sunday morning worship, and we rounded off the visit with a delicious lunch in the company of associate pastor Lauren Vanacore and Presbyterian Women Moderator Barbara Yarbrough.
Rebekah’s message riffed off of God’s commandment for humankind to “be fruitful” in every way. There is a consistent urging throughout the scriptures for us to claim our gifts and to use them, generously and enthusiastically, in service to the Good News about life and light.
It doesn’t matter if we are young, mature, women, men, rich or poor – the invitation of the Gospel is to bear fruit. “The gifs of the Spirit,” Rebekah pointed out, “are not gender specific.”
Sitting in the pew and listening to the message, I was reminded again that this kind of passionate engagement with all we have been created to be – my understanding that “living like we mean it” is the only reasonable response to the gift of life – requires a relationship with God through following Jesus. Jesus is the one who has awakened my spirit and my motivation to live in light and love and joy.
I have long been a fan of Mid-century Modern architecture. Practically speaking, I prefer worship in the semi-round, the set up we have at WFPC, but First Presbyterian in Gastonia is not only mid-century it was built complete, all at the same time, so the entire campus is in the same style. It’s very cool.
I have included as many photographs as I could muster as a worshipping guest rather than an official photographer. I would love to go back with my Nikon DSLR and really work the entire campus.
Many thanks to Les Dix, an elder at First Gastonia, for the images he took (I have included his name in the captions where appropriate).
Any time I have the opportunity to worship with God’s good people it is a blessing. So thanks so much to First Gastonia for your hospitality, and for your faithfulness as witnesses to the gospel of light and love.
In love, and because of love – DEREK
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.