The noted Baptist theologian E. Y. Mullins once proposed an axiom that he believed described the ideal relationship between the church and the nation: “A free Church in a free State.” Take a moment to reflect on the first part of that statement, and hopefully you will recognize the blessing that accompanies it. A free church is a body of believers that can practice its faith without interference and/or undue influence from governmental structures. And for the most part, we experience that freedom in our nation. For example, this Sunday we are going to join together in our worship services to celebrate our Lord, study His Word, and connect together. We are still free to do that! No one dictates what I say or what I sing. No government officials stand guard to make sure we conform to political propaganda. We are free! Our response thus should be one of gratitude and accountability. We should thank the Lord for such liberty, but we should also make the most of that redemption by attending worship opportunities. I hope we never take such moments for granted: for in doing so, we will inevitably lose them.
What a great opportunity this next week to celebrate the “free Church in a free State” ideal! I pray you will join me in giving thanks for our freedom on July 2 and July 3 as our
Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra present our 22nd Annual Patriotic Program, “Faith and Freedom.” After the July 3 program, a fireworks show will be presented (thanks to many who have donated resources to make this happen). Again, I hope these presentations will inspire our community to celebrate the free state in which we live and that they will encourage all of us to contend for that freedom. Let’s also show our appreciation for the men and women who served (and who continue to serve) in our armed forces. We owe them a tremendous debt.
On a final note, I do believe in demonstrating “honor to whom honor is due,” even in our church’s ministry. And nobody is more deserving of recognition than Karen Sanders! For almost sixteen years, she has been an essential part of our Temple team, serving as our Office Manager/Senior Pastor’s Secretary. Karen has served with three different pastors and various other staff members through these years, but in each case, she has demonstrated patience, kindness, and grace (which is especially challenging when you have to work with pastors!). In her gentle way, she has often kept us on track; I personally know how she has taken care of me! I would even say she has been “the glue” that has held us together as a staff in the Church Office. It has been very difficult to acknowledge retirement in that we will miss her dearly, but I encourage you to join me in saying “thank you” to her. This coming Sunday, we will have a reception in her honor beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. Make an extra effort to come by and express to her your love and gratitude! See you Sunday!