If you have been listening to my sermons over the past years and have read some of my newsletter articles, then you know that I love working in the yard. When springtime arrives in Tyler, I enjoy watching my yard be transformed from barren trees and bushes and brown grass, to beautiful colored Azaleas, red Japanese maple trees, white crabapple trees and a green yard.
As Gina and I were working in the yard the other day, she made the following observation: “Have you noticed how the oak leaf hydrangea takes its time, sprouting its large leaves from the sticks and then eventually bringing forth its beautiful white flowers? The weeds,” she continued, “seem to pop up overnight. It’s like the Christian journey. Good God-ordained growth takes its time and is ready in its season, while the things that are not desirable often come quickly and leave as quickly as they arrive.” (Weeds don’t hang around too long in the Baker flowerbed. My bride usually pulls them out quickly, and sometimes summons her husband to help.)
The good things of God often take time to develop and grow. Ephesians 4:15 says “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is Christ.” It takes time to grow a committed and fruitful follower of Christ. The Lord uses many seasons, and often our trials and struggles, to bring forth a mature believer.
At the end of April, we celebrate Confirmation Sunday, marking the official profession of faith of some of our youth. Many have been baptized as children and have been raised coming to worship and Sunday School. Others are new in the faith. What they share is a common call to a life-long journey of following Christ and growing into Christian maturity.
On May 5, we will celebrate a large class of graduating seniors who are about ready to embark on a new journey in their lives. Our prayers for them will include the hope that Christ will be a vibrant part of their life experience as they are released to the next season of growth.
On May 12 we will celebrate Mother’s Day with our children leading us in worship with their musical “Amazing Grace.”
It is God’s grace that makes all the growth I have been discussing possible. I hope you will be in worship services to celebrate their growth and renew your commitment to a lifetime of learning and following.
Reflecting on the growth we experience as individuals, I want to close out my reflections by sharing with you my excitement about the Marvin UMC Foundation. In January of 2017, the Foundation was established by a generous gift given by Elizabeth Sutton. Due to HVAC repairs and stained-glass window restoration that soon followed, efforts to promote Foundation giving took a back seat to the Eternal Flame (the church’s account to fund major maintenance projects.)
Because there has been some confusion about the difference between the two accounts, I offer the following analogy. When managing personal finances, many people have three accounts from which to provide for their personal and family needs: they have a checking account to pay for monthly expenditures, a savings account for major unexpected or anticipated expenditures, and some kind of pension fund that is protected and set-aside for retirement and perpetual care. In simplest terms, the church’s annual operating budget is the church’s checking account. The Eternal Flame is a savings account designated for maintenance, and the Marvin Foundation is a long-term investment that allows only interest to be used.
The Marvin UMC Foundation is in its early growth years, receiving at this time only a small number of gifts, but totaling almost $735,000. Every gift of every amount has gotten us to this place. Its greatest days of contribution to the church are still before it, but because it has been planted and is growing, a future blessing is to come. You will be learning more about how you can help (see the article on page 10). Thanks in advance for helping the good things of God grow and sharing their blessing.