We found our way to First Presbyterian because of friends and neighbors who often talked about how much they loved this church. Our oldest son immediately became involved in WeKirk with Linda, Sharon and Terri, and we got involved too. At some point not too long after that, the church hired a young and not yet ordained Christian educator, Jessica Young Brust. She and my husband were led to start the first youth group, to love and serve the kids beyond their WeKirk years and to lead them to serve our Lord. And that first summer was the first work camp, some 22 years ago. I share this information to set the stage for these next comments.
Something from those early days of our church membership still is lodged in my heart--the actions of Ben Gaeth. You all know him and what a big personality he was. I remember him greeting Rich and me, EVERY SUNDAY, with a smile and a handshake and words that carried this meaning. “We are so glad you are here. You and these youth are the future of this church.” And I am sure he was saying this same thing to other people, too. At the time I just smiled, but his words have stayed with me all these years. What encouragement! He believed in us even though we were certainly new and relatively untested in this church. It was like he was fanning the fire of our faith and just willing us on. He was truly being the hands and feet of Christ to us. And indeed, Rich and I have continued to be encouraged over the years by you, by your interest in and support of what the youth are doing, by your generous financial gifts to make it all possible and by your selfless giving to support our friends and mentors in faith in the Yucatan and by your friendship.
But this is still a question that I personally ponder on a regular basis. Who is it that I am encouraging? Are my words serving to lift up those around me? Am I encouraging the ‘future’ of our church? Am I encouraging those who are new here and old here? I ask you to think deeply about this too. Who is it that you are encouraging? Whom are you cheering on, as the present and the future of this church?
For some reason, the song Home on the Range popped into my head yesterday. You all know the line ‘where seldom is heard a discouraging word’….. That’s what I hope for now, that we seldom discourage and actively seek to use words and actions to encourage and fan the fire of faith in ourselves and others. These words will open the most unexpected paths, as we walk together in Christ.
Will you join me in trying to be more deliberate with our words of encouragement?
I wish you the grace and peace of Christ our Lord. - Pam Reid
Romans 5:5 …and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 1:11 11 For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.