From Our Pastor

The Land of the Free

Posted 30 June, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

"O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

These are words we have heard too many times to count. While we are reminded this time of year that the concept of "freedom" is at the heart of who we are as a nation, we also do well to remember "freedom" is central to our identity as people of God. We remember this as we worship on Sunday. For the people of God in the Old Testament, they are defined as the people of God as God frees them from slavery in Egypt. As those who follow Christ, we are freed from sin through the death of Jesus (as we remember at the table of our Lord). It is my hope as we worship Sunday we experience our freedom in Christ.

The search committee of FUMC meets tonight to interview five candidates for the Director of Music position. We will do so by phone, trusting that some of these conversations will lead to in-person interviews. I am grateful for the response we have received for this position, grateful for the work of this committee, and grateful for your prayers throughout this process.

It has been more than exciting this week to experience the ministry of the Vacation Bible School. About 100 children each day have taken part in an abundance of songs, music, games, crafts, snacks - even science experiments! The gracious efforts of many volunteers have all contributed to a memorable and wonderful week. A celebration of the ministry of VBS will be a part of the 11am service this Sunday.

As July 4th approaches, like many of you, Paula and I will enjoy some time to relax. We plan to go to the Speedway on the 3rd for music and some Speedway hot dogs (of course). We will then watch the fireworks from our back deck. We are still waiting to see if our Radford daughter will be able to spend some time with us. We may cook out. We will, no doubt, tend to our many plants.

In all of this, I hope to express gratitude for the blessings and freedoms I and all of us know. We are a people upon whom God has shed his grace; we are a people blessed by many men and women who have sacrificed, and continue to do so, in order for us to live so freely.

As one of our most blessed of freedoms is the freedom to worship, I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday. As we approach this particular time of worship, I invite you to share in this prayer, as found in the United Methodist Hymnal:

O God, keep our whole country under your protection. Wipe out sin from this land; lift it up from the depth of sorrow, O Lord, our shining light. Save us from deep grief and misfortune, Lord of all nations. Bless us with your wisdom, so that the poor may not be oppressed and the rich may not be oppressors. Make this a nation having no ruler except God, a nation having no authority but that of Love. Amen.