The Pastor’s Page August

Back in the day, I had the nickname Dog—hence, the dawg in my personal e-mail address. I was working a summer job in my late teens. Early in the morning, I was a little more ambitious than some of my crew wished as they were slowly greeting the day after a short night. One guy looked at another one and said, “That Forester kid sure works like a dog.” The second guy retorted, “And he sure as &%$# looks like a dog too.” When I came back around, everyone was hooting and hollering. They were afraid to tell the story. When they did, I shrugged and laughed. It stuck that summer. When I returned to school in the fall, I shared what they had said, and people agreed it was a good name for me and the nickname hung on me for most of college days.

All that has nothing to do with anything except the Dog Days of Summer will soon be coming to an end. [The dog days stretch from 03 July-11 August.] Those days have nothing to do with dogs, but the star Sirius, the dog star, which rises with the sun during these designated days. It was something the ancients discovered and named.

In modern times, we associate the Dog Days of Summer with, well, dogs and summer, especially the sweltering days of July and August. When someone refers to the Dog Days of Summer, our minds conjure image of some old dog lying in the shade of a tall oak tree with his tongue dangling far and unfurled from its mouth.

For the two-legged variety of critters around here, the Dog Days of Summer mean heading to the lake or taking a weekend jaunt for a short getaway. Those days imply rest and shade, preferably with a hammock and a lemonade.

All that to lead up to this point. Typically, St. John’s calendar encouraged you to enjoy the Dog Days of Summer as I just described. In recent years, the children and youth would end school in May and shortly thereafter Vacation Bible School would come onto the scene. For nearly two
decades, Cruise-In would come in July. After the flurry of activity would come deep sighs of relief along with desires to just take a break, which the church would afford you until the fair came around.

This year, that calendar has been reworked. Cruise-In gave way to Celebrate Freedom, an event that included many other churches and many other organizations. Celebrate Freedom also allowed us to meet a whole new segment of our community and present the gospel to them.

Also, Vacation Bible School was moved from the beginning of the summer to the end. This was done for a couple of reasons. One, St. John’s gave way to an early date so that other local churches could host their Bible schools then. Another big reason was that this year’s dates give us an opportunity to reach kids and families right before school starts.

The plan is use our VBS as a spiritual launching pad that allows the children and youth who attend will soar into a high orbit throughout the coming school year.

We also hope this gives us several points of contact with the kids and their families. Our VBS will run Monday-Thursday (07-10 August in the evening) as in previous years. On Friday, 11 August, we are inviting our kids and their families to dinner at 6 PM. We hope to have some Super Heroes visit that night, and then we will also host a Christian illusionist NOT a magician—to entertain and to PROCLAIM the gospel.

On Saturday, 12 August, the church is sponsoring with other local churches, a community pool party at the public pool. We’re partnering with SHINE-FM for a fun night of swimming, games and prizes. Last year was the inaugural pool party and everything went—ahem—swimmingly—it was genuinely enjoyed by people of all ages as well as the churched, the unchurched, and the undecided.

While these Dog Days of Summer may be beckoning you to grab an inner tube and float down the Scioto with a thermos full of sweet tea, I hope you’ll hear the call of God to not take a sabbatical but to work hard on the behalf of others— see Acts 20:35 on the previous page. These events are only successful when our people attend and disengage from the holy huddles—you know those circles only meant for believers.

If the church is going to be the church in motion and mission, we need to break the huddle and engage other people. We need folks who will introduce themselves to a stranger. We need folks who will say—and mean it—“Glad you are here!” We need folks who will invite people to church and promise to meet them and sit with them as they get acquainted with our church. We need folks who will ask, “Tell me your story,” and then listen. We need folks, who when asked, “Do you really believe this stuff in the Bible?”, will share their testimony with love and compassion.

When we have people who will welcome others and talk with others, we will see a great change in our church and community. People on the outside need to see us demonstrate our faith in action as well as with words. I believe once people on the outside of the church get to know the people on the
inside, they’ll want to join us too—after all, this place is filled with loving, kind, and gracious folks who want to love the Lord and His children!

And that brings me to the last point on the calendar. The leadership at St. John’s decided not to have a booth at the fair this year. As with Vacation Bible School, there were many reasons that went in to making that decision. For me, the primary one was that we didn’t want to be passive and wait for people to come to us, but we wanted our folk to go into the fair and meet people wherever the Spirit may lead.

If you miss the booth, grab a few church friends, don your St. John’s gear, load your pockets, satchels, or backpacks with prayer squares and start mingling on the midway, in the grandstands and throughout the various buildings. You can still share the love of Christ and pray with folks; it will just be in a different way.

These changes are not meant to upend any beloved traditions. These changes are to encourage folks to serve in a new way. Please join these endeavors. You never know where these opportunities may lead or where God may be found in them or who might receive a
blessing. Just like me and my summer job from long ago. I simply signed on for a paycheck, and I found a new identity— there’s some folks in this world who only know me as Dawg or Randawg—I name of derision became a point of pride. Hopefully, this upsetting of the calendar may cause a brief period of perplexity, but I hope and pray that it gives way to new ways of meeting our neighbors, presenting the Gospel of Christ to those who need to hear, and blessing those who are called by God. Don’t let the Dog Days of Summer be days for languid rest, but let them be a light of sky beckoning you to a new horizon in Christ.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Randall