From Our Pastor

Pray Without Ceasing

Posted 17 May, 2018 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

After enjoying a wonderful Mother's Day weekend with Paula, I arrived at the church on Monday morning to hear of the tragic death of Travis Maxey, age 21. Many of us knew Travis and his family from his involvement with the Youth Ministries of First Church just a few years ago. Many of us know Travis' grandmother, Beverly Davis. Many of us, such as myself, appreciated Travis' skills as a mechanic at Lee's Tire and Wheel. Many times, I have taken a vehicle to Lee's, left it in the good care of Travis, then walked to the church. Just a few days removed from his death, I, like you, still feel deep shock and grief.

On Tuesday, as I attended a meeting of local clergy at the hospital, I received this text from Karen Turney, the church office manager: "Parker Nichols was in a bad accident yesterday. At Baptist with skull fractures and bleeding in the brain." Parker, the son of Brian and Teri Nichols, is completing his junior year at Carlisle School. As I write this, Parker remains at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.

So this has not been an easy week for those of us within this community of faith that is First UMC. We have been sad, grieving, distracted, preoccupied - and we remain so. With visitation and funeral for Travis tomorrow, and with Parker still in the hospital, we still carry great sadness and concern.

I know we have responded to the Maxey and Nichols families with prayer unto God, and we continue to do so. As we spoke of these sad events of the past week during our staff meeting yesterday, we felt led to set aside a particular time of prayer for the church and for all who may wish to attend. Next Wednesday, May 23, at noon in the sanctuary, we will recognize a time in which we will pray especially for the Maxeys and the Nichols; we welcome other prayer concerns as well. In all of this, we are faithful to words of scripture calling us to, "ask; seek; knock," scripture calling us to "pray without ceasing," and words of faith telling us "rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." I hope you will make time during the lunch hour next Wednesday to join in the ministry of prayer, knowing this will bless those who hurt at this time, as well as those of us to go to God in prayer.

As we worship this Sunday, we remember the day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2. In doing so, we remember the powerful presence of the spirit of God. It is this spirit, according to Acts, which brings order to confusion, brings about new beginnings, and gives new life. This sounds like a timely witness for us all. I look forward to claiming and proclaiming this good news with you as we worship God this Sunday.