Charlottesvile ....

Greetings,

It wasn’t until late Saturday night I began to hear about the horrible events that took place in Charlottesville. I was a little more “unplugged” from the outside world than usual. I looked at my twitter feed that night and began to discern some of the events of the day by people’s reactions on Twitter.
The first thing I noticed was the large number of people who were denouncing White Supremacy, White Nationalism, Nazis, and other evil hate filled groups. I couldn’t understand why all of a sudden so many of my friends were declaring what seemed to be so obvious, “White Supremacy is evil!”
As I began to look at different news websites, I saw the disturbing images and then read of the heartbreaking acts of violence that took place in Charlottesville that day. I began to realize why so many people were declaring what seemed to be such common sense, “Hate is Evil!”
It reminds me of how I felt in the midst of my Mom’s struggle with pancreatic cancer years ago that rapidly spread and caused so much pain and destruction in her body. There were times when I would just declare the obvious, “Cancer Stinks! (or some version of that)”
There are days like Saturday when the realities of sin and hatred in our world come rushing to the surface we just need to cry out and state what should be obvious just to make sure everyone knows where we stand.

Here are a few of those statements from me:

  1. There is only one who is supreme and that is Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God the Father. For any human, individually or corporately, to view themselves as supreme or even desire for themselves to be supreme over another person for any reason is sin. The manifestation of this sin through our actions, relationships, words, and sometimes even our silence, is toxic to ourselves those around us.
  2. True love for Jesus manifests itself through our love for others and leaves no room in our lives for hate. (Even hate towards those who are hateful)
  3. It is essential that we as followers of Jesus continually examine our hearts, our relationships, and the systems we are a part of and repent of all forms of hatred, animosity, or beliefs of supremacy we find. Listen closely to the Holy Spirit and be vigilant. Hate can often mask itself in feelings or beliefs of others we feel are right and justified.
  4. We must also be ready to stand up for justice whenever we find ourselves in a position to do so. We are in such a position far more often than we allow ourselves to recognize.

I was reminded once again Saturday night of the depth and hate and racism that exists all around us. I’m now reminded that there are so many of my African-american brothers and sisters who do not have the luxury of being reminded because they are made aware in blatant and subtle ways every day. It is my prayer that I will better reflect the Kingdom of God in my heart, life, and relationships and worship only God as supreme!

Grace and Peace,

Andy

Toes Above Nose -- A Rambo Summer Update

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"Toes above Nose". This is a phrase I have come to despise over the last 2 weeks. Those are the instructions the Dr. has given me since my Achilles Surgery. And, yes, despite the huge temptation to not obey his orders I have been mostly faithful.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, the very short version is that my Achilles' tendon ruptured and I had surgery to repair it a couple weeks ago. This surgery and the recovery has been the icing on a very challenging summer cake for the Rambo family. But as I preached during my sermon before surgery, God's grace is sufficient in our weakness and our weakness sometimes reveals itself most in times of challenge.
So despite the challenges of a fire in our house, living in a hotel for over a month, and now a touch Achilles recovery; I can truly say the Rambo family can truly say how incredible God's grace is. We have witnessed His grace through the outpouring of love from our family and friends. We have particularly been blessed by the prayers, food, and love from our incredible community at First Church.
How are we and what is next?

  • We have now been back in our house for a week!! It is so good to be home! Everything is repaired our home is restored. We were incredibly blessed and the damage to our home really wasn't anywhere near as bad as it could have been.
  • My Achilles is healing well but the recovery is slow and very boring! I go back to the Dr. on Monday to find out if I will be allowed to be back in the office and enter back among the walking. I'll be on crutches for awhile but as long as I can get out of the house and back in ministry with y'all, I'll be very happy.
  • The boys are starting school Monday and life will finally be settling back into a routine of sorts.

I can not wait to getting to preach again Sunday August 13th!! I dearly miss worshiping with the First Church Community and can not wait to return! Thank you all for being vessels of grace in our lives in such a special way the last month!

Grace and Peace,

Andy

Are you Thirsty?

Are you Thirsty?

As I decided on my sermon scripture for this Sunday, I chose a passage I love to preach. I’m sure I’ve preached on it a few times over the years here.  I’ll admit that I’m being a little selfish because this is the passage I really need to focus on and hear from this week.

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”” (John 7:37–38, ESV)

Mission at First

After the re-construction of the Education building as well as the foundation and frame for the sanctuary was completed, the people of First Church once again were able to worship, to gather, and to serve with one another at the corner of Poplar and 2nd Ave. Rather than focus on what we did not have after the loss of the grand sanctuary, the people of First Church chose to commit what God had restored to whatever door of mission and ministry God would open.

During the last four years, we have been able to host a number of dynamic ministries to homeless and poor poor persons in Downtown Memphis.

Carpenter’s Table Food Pantry
Provides food for those working but still need help feeding their families. The Carpenter's table volunteers provide groceries for 150+ persons each year.

Room in the Inn:
We have leased for $0 the Carpenter’s Building to Room In The Inn Ministries. RITI uses the Building as a check-in and meeting place for the homeless persons who will be spending the evening in a host church. RITI also has plans to open a daytime hospitality center for homeless persons to shower and take care of essential needs.

Burrito Ministry
Organized primarily by volunteers with Iona ministries.
Provides a hot burrito meal for all in need.

Urban Bicycle Food Ministry
Gathers at First Church to prepare meals and deliver them, along with other small items, throughout the downtown area on bicycles.

Team Laeth
Organized by Volunteers with Team Laeth. Led by David and Sharon Mullins.
Provides a hot meal for all in need and offers various other items, including blankets, coats and socks, especially in the winter.

The people of First Church are 100% committed to making sure the building of a new sanctuary will in no way displace the various ministries currently using the foundation of the new sanctuary!!

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