We are now in the season of Pentecost. Pentecost focuses on what one writer has called “the shy member of the Trinity”—the Holy Spirit. It is frequently called the birthday of the church. For today’s article, I would remind us all that one of the very first actions of the newly-birthed church was to elect someone to oversee the ministry to widows and orphans. All the wind and fire in the world would mean nothing without caring for the least and most powerless among us.
With that in mind, it may seem a strange moment to speak of Room In The Inn. After all, the temperatures have been wonderfully pleasant these last few days and warmer days are still ahead. The bitter cold and icy streets may be forgotten, but those guests of ours are not forgotten.
Room In The Inn set some records this year. A total of 187 unique faith groups offered shelter this year. Room In The Inn is probably the most “inclusive” ministry in Nashville. 32,000 beds were made available through the season and volunteers gave a record number of over 145,000 hours.
Our congregation provided 107 of those beds, 321 meals, and 547 of those volunteer hours. We cooked meals, set up comfortable sleeping arrangements, picked up and dropped off guests, and spent the night with our friends. We made warm clothing available every week. We sat at table and talked. We learned a lot about each other as we shared a meal.
It has been said that “humility is NOT thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less."
That’s why we are so excited about PACK AND PRAISE. This is one way we continue to be in ministry to these friends during the balmy days—those days when the men we served DON’T have a church to sleep in and DON’T have three meals provided. The lunch bags our youth put together for us are now available for you to put a few in your car and give to the homeless ones you come across during the week. Maybe it allows a conversation to take place, maybe not. But a meal will be provided for many who will struggle to eat.
We want EVERYONE to be a part of this effort. The bags contain non-perishable food items, so you can keep them in your car for as long as it takes for you to pull up to a corner where someone is selling The Contributor. By all means, buy a paper—but don’t forget to offer them a bagged lunch. That lunch also contains a prayer and a message of hope from our church.
For all of you who volunteered for Room In The Inn this past season—thank you so much. Your work mattered. A special thanks to Diane Jones who has given leadership to this ministry for our church for many years. By the way, she could use some help next year—is the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart to step up?
The springtime of the year reminds us that there is a “rhythm” to life. An ebb and flow. What we all know beyond a doubt from our personal experience is that change is inevitable—nothing ever stays the same because it can’t. Like the old wisdom that says you can never step into the same stream twice—the stream is forever changing.
And so it is with mixed emotions that we announce that Josh Vegors, our Director of Communications, will be leaving us in mid-May. The “mixed” element in our emotions is that Josh has received a great job offer that he and his family couldn’t turn down. For that reason, we are happy for Josh and wish him only good things. At the same time, we are sad to be losing him—we didn’t have Josh with us as long as we had hoped.
Josh has begun to transform a lot of the ways in which we “talk” to each other and to the community at large. With his help, we have begun to rethink how we get information out in an effective and efficient manner. Whoever we find to follow Josh will have a good leg up in this effort.
I hope you will make it a point to drop Josh a line or come by the church in the next week and offer your thanks and best wishes.
I used to be a pretty big fan of the T.V. show known as “The West Wing”. The West Wing was about a presidency and those who worked around him. I always thought it was a really “smart” show. One of the signature elements of the show was how often the President said “What’s next?” With the kind of schedule he faced every day there was a need to be on the move constantly. And so when one “task” was completed, he would almost always ask, “What’s next?”
I think people of faith should adopt that same attitude about life. As much as we sometimes want nothing to change around us—either because we fear change or because we are so comfortable with the “now”—we should forever be reminded that we never step twice into the same stream. Life moves quickly and change is the dominant feature of the world we inhabit. The most creative way to deal with such a world, I believe, is to be able to ask, “What’s next?”
The same will be true for our church. Please offer prayers that we will locate the best possible person to step into this role and help lead us into a better future.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.