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June 1, 2003

Recently, I read about a celebration which took place at a New Orleans municipal pool.  The party around the pool was held to celebrate the first summer in memory without a drowning at any of the city’s pools.  In honor of the occasion, two hundred people gathered, including one hundred certified lifeguards.

As the party was breaking up and the four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end.  They tried to revive Jerome Moody.  But, it was too late.  He had drowned surrounded by lifeguards celebrating their successful season.

One wonders how many people are drowning in loneliness, hurt, doubt, and sin, while those who could help them are focused on their own successes - complacent with the familiar comforts of their lives.

One of the core expressions of our life together as a congregation is the genuine care and concern that is shown towards others.  I am continually amazed and humbled by the love of God as it is expressed through each one of you.  Prayer is a major part of our lives as we pray for one another.  Physical help is given - often without ever being noticed except by those who are directly involved.  Encouragement, support, and words which build each other up are a part of our relationships.  Praise God for the community He is creating within us!

As we head into June and into summer - a time when our being together is less frequent due to vacations and activities - we need to be reminded of the vital importance of what God desires to do through us.  God’s love - expressed through us - is especially important to those outside our fellowship whom God will bring us into contact with as we do the ordinary things of summer.

Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball.  While breaking baseball’s “color barrier,” he faced jeering crowds, biased umpires, and unsportsmanlike play from his opponents.  While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error.  His own fans began to ridicule him.  He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered.

Then shortstop “Pee Wee” Reese came over an stood next to him.  He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd.  The fans grew quiet.  Robinson later said that that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

The prophet Isaiah writes, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation.” (Isaiah 52:7)

That announcement can be an arm around the shoulder.  It can be a word of encouragement - a card sent - a phone call - even a greeting a church.  Behind it all is the opportunity to share God’s love and even His Gospel of salvation.  The feet of the one who shares are lovely - especially to those who are desperate to hear His message of hope and life.

A few years back Mercedes Benz had a television commercial showing their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety test.  Someone then asks the company spokesman why they do not enforce their patent on the Mercedes Benz’s energy-absorbing car body, a design evidently copied by other companies because of its success.

The spokesman replies matter-of-factly, “Because some things in life are too important not to share.”

How true.  In the category also falls the Gospel of salvation, which saves people from far more than auto collisions.

“He who has the Son has the life - eternal life - he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” - and is facing eternity in hell. (1 John 5:12)

May God awaken each of us to the crucial ministry He has given to us to share His Gospel with others.  May He open our eyes wide to see the needs of those around us.  May He make us restless to move beyond complacency within our own success and comfort.  May we commit everything we have and all that we are to reaching others with His Gospel.