Low Sunday

Last Sunday we celebrated the Easter news that “Christ is risen, indeed!” Sanctuaries overflowed as churches experienced high attendance Sundays.

The liturgical calendar calls the week after Easter Low Sunday. Historians believe the name originated in contrast to the great festival of Easter. Following the celebration of the Resurrection, churches returned to the “low” or ordinary routine of worship.

Church pastors know better! Low attendance puts the LOW in Low Sunday. Easter marks the high-water mark for worship. The Sunday after Easter ebbs at low tide. Some congregations may even experience negative numbers!

This week we continue to celebrate the Season of Easter. The risen Lord appeared to his disciples for forty days. Mary encountered Jesus in the garden. Two disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Paul reported that Christ appeared to Simon Peter, the Twelve, and more than 500 followers at one time.

According to John’s Gospel, one man missed Jesus’ appearance to the other apostles on Easter night. Unconvinced by second-hand reports, “Doubting” Thomas announced he would only be convinced by touching Jesus’ wounds.

On the Sunday after Easter, Jesus once again appeared in the Upper Room. He confronted Thomas’ doubts and displayed his wounded hands, feet, and side. The disciple knelt and professed, “My Lord and my God!

Christ responded, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

It’s a good thing that Thomas decided to attend church the Sunday after Easter. Otherwise, he might have missed the Risen Lord.

On Low Sunday, we continue to celebrate the Easter good news that “Christ is risen, indeed!”

Easter at Northside Church

Join us this Easter Sunday as we celebrate the good news of the Resurrection! Northside Church is offering five opportunities for worship, including:

  • 8:30                 Traditional Worship               Sanctuary
  • 9:00                 Contemporary Worship          Faith & Arts Center
  • 9:45                 Traditional Worship               Sanctuary
  • 10:30               Contemporary Worship          Faith & Arts Center
  • 11:15               Traditional Worship               Sanctuary

The 8:30, 9:00, and 11:15 services will be live-streamed on the church’s website. Easter animals will be present before and after the services.

This Easter Northside is returning to full seating capacity with 600 in the Sanctuary and 600 in the Faith & Arts Center for a total of 3,000 seats. Our reservation system will ensure there’s a place for everyone on Easter Sunday. Make reservations at www.NorthsideUMC.org/HolyWeek. Seats remain available for most services.

I look forward to worshipping together on Easter as we hear the ancient words that are forever new, “Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!”

Practical Advice, Part 4: Miscellaneous

  • Use sunscreen liberally, and make sure your children do the same.
  • Computer passwords should contain numbers, letters, and symbols. Remember there are only 10 numbers but 26 letters in the English language.
  • Use an address book to keep up with passwords and PINs.
  • Salt on a restaurant coaster prevents the bottom of a glass from sticking.
  • advice4In public restrooms, use elbows or feet rather than hands for opening doors and flushing commodes.
  • Carry hand sanitizer in your car or purse.
  • Walk a minimum of 7,000 steps a day. If in doubt, wear a pedometer.
  • Learn to touch type—regardless of age. Keyboards provide a portal into the electronic world. However, never forget that virtual reality is a poor excuse for reality.
  • Add a working day to your week by eliminating an hour of television or the Internet each day.
  • Use words liberally like “Please,” “Thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you.”
  • Say “I love you” to family and friends daily. Say it especially when you don’t feel like it.
  • Wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident. Actually, wear clean underwear on general principles.
  • Practice moderation in all things—including moderation.
  • Only one person in the history of the world was perfect, and neither of us is him. Be eager to forgive and seek forgiveness.
  • Listen to other people’s advice, but make up your own mind.

Practical Advice, Part 3: Home

  • Run hot water in the kitchen sink before turning on the dish washer.
  •  “Burp” Tupperware for a better seal.
  • Clothes pins make great “chip clips” along with sealing cereal, flour, and more.
  • Preheat a mug with hot water to keep coffee warm longer.
  • advice3Baking soda and vinegar followed by boiling water will dissolve most plumbing clogs.
  • Fitted sheets can be folded by tucking the elastic corners under one another.
  • Put pillows in a freezer for twenty-four hours to kill microscopic mites and other critters. (And, yes, your pillow has them).
  • Rubbing your hands on stainless steel (a sink works) removes an onion’s odor.
  • Clean the lint trap in a dryer often. Built up lint is a fire hazard.
  • Kitty litter soaks up oil spills in garages.
  • Replace fire detector batteries when Daylight Saving Time begins and ends.
  • Plug the two ends of an electrical cord together before looping the doubled line.
  • Rub a stubborn key with pencil lead. The graphite serves as a dry lubricant.
  • NEVER mix bleach and ammonia. The resulting fumes are toxic.
  • Never mess with electricity, natural gas, strange dogs, or snakes.
  • Don’t take a shower during a thunder storm. Lighting and water don’t mix.
  • Replace a toothbrush after recovering from a cold or the flu.
  • Dry a razor thoroughly between uses—it will stay sharp longer.
  • Make baked goods for the pastor.

Practical Advice, Part 2: Cars

  • Check your cars oil and air pressure regularly.
  • Don’t let the fuel gauge go below a quarter of a tank.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. Don’t eat and drive.
  • advice2Just drive!
  • Touch the car before handling a gas pump. Static electricity can ignite petroleum fumes.
  • Lock the doors while pumping gas.
  • NEVER leave a child or pet in the car alone—even if it’s “just for a minute.”
  • Look both ways after the light turns green for someone running a “yellow” light. Sooner or later this simple habit will save your life.
  • Where there’s a ball, there’s a boy. Hit the brakes immediately.
  • Don’t swerve off the road to avoid an animal. Brake quickly but safely.
  • Over 80 mph, you are aiming rather than steering a car.
  • When backing a trailer, put one hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. Whichever way your hand goes, the trailer will follow.
  • Have car keys in hand when approaching your vehicle in a parking lot. If accosted by a stranger, toss the keys under a car.
  • When possible, keep one car length distance from the vehicle in front of you for every 10 mph of speed
  • When road rage threatens, BREATHE. Deep breath in. Hold. Deep breath out. Hold. Let it go.
  • Let Jesus take the wheel.

 

Practical Advice, Part 1: Money

  • advice1Spend less that you make.
  • Give 10%. Save 10%. Live on 80%.
  • “Finances are a crock pot reality in a microwave world.” (Dave Ramsey)
  • If you can live without it today, then you can live without it.
  • Even the baby Jesus only received three Christmas gifts. Sometimes we give our children too much.
  • Shred loan and credit applications.
  • Use cash whenever possible. A study by bankrate.com discovered that consumers spend 30% MORE at restaurants when using credit rather than cash.
  • Credit cards should be a convenience and not a necessity. Don’t charge more than can be paid off at month’s end.
  • The power of compounding interest works for us with savings and against us with loans.
  • Insurance is a balancing act between benefit and cost. Insure the things you cannot afford to lose.
  • Consider higher deductibles on insurance policies for premium savings.
  • Make a current will—especially if you have children. Do NOT put it in a safety deposit box.
  • Tithe, if you love Jesus. Anyone can HONK.
  •  “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” (John Wesley)

Spring Training

Winter’s dreary days drag a gray blanket over the cold world. Spirits plunge along with thermometers’ mercury. Bare branches, brown grass, and pale skin long for the sultry stroke of sunshine. Instead, the chill of February rain makes winter blues fade to black.

Then four mystical, marvelous, miraculous words declare: “Pitchers and catchers report!”

The magical incantation causes Old Man Winter to vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the light pierces the clouds with golden streams of promise. Morning temperatures receive an early wakeup call from spring. Branches bud, lawns green, and the sun shines.

Winter does not officially end until March 21. However, an early harbinger of warmer days arrives with the advent of baseball’s Spring Training.

The American and National League teams practice in the sunny climes of Florida and Arizona in preparation for Opening Day. Pitchers and catchers arrive first to warm up their arms after the off-season hiatus.

John Fogarty, former lead singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival, wrote a baseball anthem entitled Centerfield.  The rock beat declares:

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone—the sun came out today!

We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.

A-rounding third and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man;

Anyone can understand the way I feel.

Then the chorus expresses a sentiment that any child of the game intuitively understands:

Oh, put me in coach, I’m ready to play today.

Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today.

Look at me, I can be, centerfield!

The calendar says its mid-February, but I smell worn leather, cut grass, and hotdogs. The Boys of Summer are back, and spring cannot be far behind!

Author’s note: I wrote this blog several weeks ago when I assumed that owners and players would act like adults and reach an agreement. I obviously overestimated the parties’ abilities to negotiate in good faith. I hope that the words “Play ball” echo in the air soon.

Offering Alternatives

Northside Church quit passing offering plates during the pandemic. Studies later revealed that COVID-19 spreads mainly through airborne particles; but the virus can survive on surfaces for hours. Therefore, the worship team delayed the reinstitution of the venerable offering plate.  

Congregants learned to give in other ways. The church emphasized online donations, automatic bank transfers, and electronic checks. People used their omnipresent phones for text giving. We placed lock boxes in the lobbies for those who brought donations to church. Members gave generously in a wide variety of ways, and Northside finished the past two years with financial surpluses.  

This winter we plan to reintroduce passing offering plates in worship. Most people will continue to give digitally, and we encourage the practice. The physical act of collecting an offering transcends the financial. The practice reminds believers that our tithes and offerings serve as tokens of discipleship.

Northside encourages children to attend worship with their families and church family. Boys and girls LOVE the offering and beg their parents for cash. They relish the opportunity to drop coins and bills into the plates. The students grasp the plate firmly and pass it reluctantly. They are learning what it means to be stewards of God’s riches.

Christians have discovered new ways to give, and offering plates may seem passé. However, worship ritual shapes personal faith. The church recognizes the giver’s need to give and the church’s need to receive. God’s children of all ages learn how to love the Lord with heart, soul, mind, strength, AND money.

Coin Collecting

Ronnie Lichens and I attended Wadsworth Elementary together. He played baseball for the dreaded White Sox, and I belonged to the Red Sox. Despite our on-field rivalry, we became good friends.

Ronnie introduced me to the world of coin collecting. He displayed his collection in blue folders with precut slots. Reference books cataloged the value of the different coins. He talked about dates, engravings, mint stamps, double casts, wheatie pennies, and Indian head nickels.

I began my own collection, starting small and building slowly. I bought Whitman trifold folders with slots marked for the appropriate coins. Ordinary change became filled with extraordinary possibilities.

Like most boyhood enthusiasms, my new hobby lasted about a year before other pursuits garnered my attention. The half-finished coin collection got shoved into the back of drawers and closets.

Today I still possess a handful of the older coins preserved in plastic tubes. I have no clue about their monetary worth. The memories, on the other hand, remain invaluable. The notion that something possessed worth beyond its face value appealed to me. Even as a child, I intuitively sensed this discovery held some greater, universal truth.

Only later would my theological understanding of God mature to a point that I understood this important lesson. We view others through human eyes, and oftentimes we sinfully dismiss people as empty of worth and value. God views each of us through the eyes of love. The Lord deems us worth the greatest price of all: God’s Son.

Others may judge us by our looks, intelligence, talents, or assets. The world assigns a price tag to our value. In our Heavenly Father’s eyes, however, we are a rare and matchless find.

We are priceless.