A Week Set Apart

April 16, 2014

The word “Holy” means “different, unique, set apart… not like any other.”

There are fifty two weeks in the year, but Christians refer to this one week as “Holy.” It is “different, unique, set apart… not like any other.”

This week, above all others, is the week during which we reflect upon God’s amazing love… and upon our response to that incredible love.

Have you set apart some time this week for that reflection? Is this week “Holy” for you?

Along with our Wednesday noon Midweek Mediation, we also have times of worship on Maundy Thursday (7:30pm) and on Good Friday (7:30pm). In the midst of this Holy Week, I hope you’ll make those times a priority.

In the meantime, I invite you to spend some time reflecting on these powerful words from the pen of the great hymn writer Isaac Watts. I’ve added some of my thoughts, but I hope you’ll spend some time with your own reflections.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Sure… I’ve accomplished some things in my life, but even “my richest gain” pales in comparison to what God has done for me and for the world.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
This verse really convicts me. The fact is… there are many “vain things that charm me” in the world. I hope I would be willing to sacrifice them to experience the love and grace God has for me.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
“Sorrow and love…” I’m filled with sorrow that this world is so broken, but overwhelmed with gratitude that God has not stopped loving even this broken world.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Even if I owned everything in the world and could give it back to God as a thanks for God’s love… even then… that wouldn’t be sufficient for what God has done. God’s amazing love calls not for a gift of my stuff… it calls for a gift of my life.

Holy Week prompts me to ask… in what way am I living a life that brings honor to the depth of God’s love? Am I loving others the way God loves me? Am I patient with others the way God is patient with me? Am I generous with my resources the way God is generous in blessing me? Am I taking the time to listen to others the way God takes the time to listen to me?

We call this a “Holy” Week. For you this week… In what way is this week “different, unique, set apart… not like any other?”

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church

What’s Your Answer?

March 26, 2014

During this Lenten season, one of the questions we have been asking here at Roswell Presbyterian Church is, “Why do I pledge to RPC?”

It has been interesting to hear people’s answers. We invited a number of folks to write their answer on a white board and over the past couple of weeks we have been sharing those in videos and mailings. Click here to check it out.  www.roswellpres.org/everymember

What we have discovered is that the answers fall into basically four different groups. In my personal case, I’ve realized that my answers fall into all four categories.

What about you? What’s your answer?

blank with penFor some folks, pledging is in their ROOTS. They learned it from their parents or grandparents. When I was a child, I received a weekly allowance, and each week I brought one tenth of it to Sunday School as my offering. That practice, along with watching my father put that offering envelope in the plate each week in worship taught me the importance of making a regular pledge.

Some people’s reason for pledging is that it is their RESPONSE to God’s grace. I have to admit… this is my reason as well! Things aren’t perfect in my life, but even in the midst of challenges… I have been blessed far beyond anything I have earned or deserve. Pledging… and giving… is my way to say thank you to God for God’s immeasurable love for me.

Still others report that they pledge because they REACT to the amazing ministries our gifts support. I’m in this camp as well! I see the incredible work done in our children and youth ministries, and I want my money to support those activities. I experience our magnificent worship, and I want to make sure that continues. I utilize our amazing facilities, and I want to help support the upkeep of those buildings. Pledging is my way to help make sure the work of RPC continues!

Finally, some people tell us they pledge because they want to REACH a hurting world with the Good News of God’s love. That’s me as well! I’ve been blessed, and I want others to know those blessings. I have experienced God’s love, and I want to reach out to a hurting and broken world and let others know of God’s love. Sharing the Good News through word and action makes a difference in the world, and my pledge help make that happen!

What’s your answer?

I look forward to joining with you on Easter Sunday, April 20. It’s going to be a glorious day of worship and celebration, and as part of our celebration we’ll have the joy of presenting our pledge for the work of God through the Roswell Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church

Let’s Talk

March 8, 2014

We live in an increasingly diverse, and, sadly, divided world. Too often we have forgotten how to be in dialogue with each other, how to live as the New Testament writer James suggests when he says we need to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

But if we’re going to survive in this diverse world, we are going to have to learn how to be in conversation with each other.

That’s why I was so excited Friday night when our eighth grade confirmation students and their mentors worshiped together at Temple Beth Tikvah on Coleman Road. What a very special time it was for us to experience a different faith tradition and to learn more about our own heritage and history as people of the Book. Special thanks to Rabbi Greene for hanging around after worship to answer questions from our students!

Our confirmation students experienced a conversation we’ll all be able to have on the next three Thursday evenings.

Beginning this week, March 13, Rabbi Fred Greene of Beth Tikvah, Mr. Bassem Fakhoury of the Roswell Community Masjid, Rev. Mary Cox of RPC, and I are going to be in a conversation with each other and with the community. For three Thursday nights, from 8:00 until 9:30, we’re going to have a dialogue about our respective faith traditions.

This week we’ll be meeting at Temple Beth Tikvah; On March 20 we’ll be at the Roswell Community Masjid; and on March 27 we’ll be at Roswell Presbyterian Church. The event is open to the public, and we hope you’ll come and join in the conversation.

Our hope is that we will learn more about each other as Christian, Muslim, and Jew, but even more importantly, we hope that in this diverse world we’ll have a chance to learn how to listen and talk with each other.

There is too much hatred, too much animosity, too much misunderstanding in our world. It’s time for some respectful and thoughtful dialogue.

I hope you can join us for any or all of our gatherings. Our world needs to learn how to talk with each other! I’m praying that Bassem, Fred, Mary and I will be able to model what it means to have a respectful and thoughtful conversation!

Feel free to invite your friends and join us!

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church

Moving Forward!

February 24, 2014

Yesterday in my sermon I talked about how the Roswell Presbyterian Church is responding the incredible changes which are taking place in today’s world. I thought I would share a portion of the sermon with you…

Technology has dramatically changed both the way we communicate and the way we make decisions. Our country and our community are both more diverse than ever before, and, for the first time in our nation’s history, we’re told that less than 50% of all Americans are members of a Christian church.

You understand, the church of Jesus Christ isn’t disappearing,. But the fastest growing churches are now in Africa, and Korea, and South America, not in Europe or the United States.

I talked about this at our Wednesday Evening Fellowship a few weeks ago, and we’re going to continue that conversation this coming Wednesday.

In the midst of our current world and community transition, the Roswell Presbyterian Church is going to continue to do three things.

First, we are going to find the balance between being who we are as a congregation without sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the changing world.

The now famous analogy in the business world is the story of the buggy whip manufacturers at the end of the nineteenth century. Convinced that this new automobile was a fad that would never take off, some companies refused to transition into the new world and kept on making buggy whips, insuring their eventual demise.

The Roswell Presbyterian Church won’t go the way of the buggy whip manufacturer, but we can’t ignore the changes that are coming in our world. We’re going to find the balance between being who we are and still remaining relevant in a changing world. We will find that balance.

Second, we are going to find our unity in Christian mission and service rather than in our demographic make-up or theological purity.

In the years to come, what will hold us together as a congregation will not be the fact that we all look the same or that we all have exactly the same theological views on the world. What will hold us together is that we are all serving together in the name of Christ, working to make this a more just and equitable and fair world. What will unite us is our commitment to work for God’s kingdom here on earth, even as it is in heaven.

We’re already moving in that direction. We are not all of one mind on all the social issues of the day. And that’s okay. What holds us together is a common commitment to worship and to serve Christ, to care for the world into which Christ as come. Along with our work with our mission partners, we’re getting more and more involved in the community through our Neighborhood Outreach Ministry. That’s where we find our unity.

And third, in this changing world, we are going to start new churches. We know that for the church of Jesus Christ to grow in America, existing churches are going to have to be planting new churches. New churches tend to be more diverse and they tend to be younger than existing churches. And so church planting needs to become a regular part of our mission.

The Mustard Seed Project is our important first step in that process. I am excited to report that thanks to your faithfulness, 191 households have made gifts and pledges of over $629,000!!!

Thank you for your faithfulness, and thank you for the opportunity I have to serve with you in this ministry. I look forward to seeing where God will lead us all in the months to come!!

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church

eXtreme Acts of Kindness

February 16, 2014

There were a lot of tired students around the Roswell Presbyterian Church Sunday morning. 170, to be exact! Those sixth through twelfth grade students were part of this weekend’s eXtreme Retreat, a weekend event in which they stay in people’s homes at night but gather at the church for worship, meals, games, and fun.

Along with the students there were another 49 leaders who spent a sleepless weekend as well! They stayed all over Roswell and East Cobb, scattered around in homes of church members who graciously welcomed one of the fifteen small groups that made up the weekend. I’m so grateful for the leaders and hosts who made this weekend possible! What a blessing you are to our students!

The speaker for the weekend was Emily Wright, who did a phenomenal job highlighting the theme, Be Light. Encouraged by the light of Christ in their lives, the students were challenged to live Christ-like lives to reflect that light into all the world!

On Saturday morning, they had an opportunity to live out their weekend theme. As a way to commemorate our church’s 175th anniversary, each of the fifteen small groups was given $17.50 and was sent out into the community to use that money in a random act of kindness.

retreatfire station

The creativity of the students was amazing! One group bought and delivered cookies to the Roswell Police Department and to a Roswell Fire Station. Another made cards for the families at the Drake House. One group bought supplies and made sandwiches for the Open Door. Flowers were taken to the residents at Manor Care, and one group even bought and handed out flowers to shoppers at Wal-Mart! Toys were bought for North Fulton Community Charities, and another group donated their money for a water filter at a school in Uganda.

What if we offered the same challenge to our entire congregation? What random act of kindness would you do for $17.50?

Better yet… don’t just think about it. This week, go do it!

Our students are learning that the light of Christ overcomes even the darkness of our world. It’s not a bad lesson for us all!

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church

Angels Entertaining Angels

January 29, 2014

The writer of Hebrews says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Right now at Roswell Presbyterian Church, angels are entertaining angels.

This was our week to host Family Promise, the homeless shelter that moves around to different churches and synagogues.  We had a team prepared to spend the night at church with the three families who are currently part of Family Promise.

Last night, as conditions worsened, our team graciously extended their hospitality to stranded motorists.  Right now, on Wednesday morning, about 200 folks are finding shelter at RPC.  Our team, including Howard and Canita Flint, Jack McGinnis, Gloria Ormand, and Jim Crawford, are doing a phenomenal job “showing hospitality to strangers.”  They opened the kitchen and have fed them and kept them warm.

This morning, they have set up a computer in the Fellowship Hall and are live streaming the news on the big screens for people to keep up with what’s going on.  They have made plans to stay throughout the day and, if need be, overnight.  Fortunately there is enough food in the kitchen to keep them fed!

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing way in which God brought this together.  We have the facility to handle this; we had supplies in place for Family Promise; we have the right team on site.  It’s amazing!

Thank you to so many, many people all over Atlanta who are “showing hospitality to strangers.”  And thank you especially for the team of angels at RPC who are showing that hospitality.  What a blessing you are!

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church

Tuesday Afternoons…

January 10, 2014

Three Tuesday afternoons each month I spend a couple of hours stretched out in a comfortable recliner either reading a book or dozing off for a nap.   I’m not being lazy… I’m receiving IV chemotherapy at Georgia Cancer Specialists.

It’s an interesting experience which some of you know too well.  For me, it’s a parable of what the church ought to be.

There we are, about twenty of us, sitting in these recliners all around the room.  On any given Tuesday, I’ll hear at least two languages spoken… sometimes more.  There are people of all ages; people of all races.  It’s clear that in that room there are a variety of economic backgrounds represented.  I’m quite certain there are several different political perspectives represented among the folks gathered.

Some are sleeping; others are reading or watching television.  Some like to engage in conversation with fellow patients.  Others spend the time in quiet reflection.

On the surface, there isn’t much we have in common.  Except for one very important fact…  We are all there because we know we have a need.  We each have a need which we know we can’t deal with on our own.

Trivial things, like what we happen to be wearing or (for those few who still have hair) what our hair looks like, don’t seem to matter much in that room.

In a real way, that chemo lab is a community.  People look out for each other; people encourage each other; people help each other.

It’s a model of the church… or at least what the church should be!

I’m certainly grateful to be there.  I’m thankful for the insurance which pays for this incredible treatment, and I’m thankful for the doctors and nurses and technicians who make it such a special place.

And, not coincidentally, I’m grateful that the treatment is having a positive effect on my health.  With relatively minimal side effects, my treatment has caused my “tumor marker” to be cut in half.  I’m almost in the normal range!

So, with thanks, three Tuesdays each month I go join this special community.  It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Tuesday afternoon and Sunday morning are both very sacred times in my weekly ritual.

And for that, I give thanks.

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church

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