Back from Vacation

I'm BackIt is good to be back at UBC after my two-week vacation. I spent the time doing a lot of reading, watching a few movies, and taking some naps. Our family also spent time relaxing at the beach. It was wonderful to take time off and know that the church is in the good hands of Alba, Bob, and church lay leadership. Many thanks also go to Elizabeth Rickert Dowdy and Lynn Litchfield for filling the pulpit so capably and creatively.

But all vacations must come to an end, and Monday I was back in the office. That evening, I met with a group of church leaders to determine a process for deciding the merit of a ministry residency program at UBC. In a residency program, a church welcomes a recent seminary-trained minister to join the staff for a two-year period. The church offers a stipend, ministry experience, and supervision, while the resident brings skills and talents to the church.

The church members who met to discuss this program and a process for considering it were Debra Bryant (Deacon Chair), Ed Smith (Church Council Chair), Larry Martin (Finance Chair), Alan Hendricks (Personnel Chair), Brent Wilson, Jack and Jo-Ann Averill, and me.

Following the church’s potluck supper on August 6, the congregation will hear about the potential program, have the chance to ask questions, give input, and learn about the process for deciding whether UBC should create a two-year pilot for such a residency program.

Once we have completed this process, we will then follow a similar process as we consider refining the mission of UBC, which may lead us to develop a second service of worship.

Please pray for God’s leadership as we consider these possibilities. And while we’re praying, let’s not forget our youth and adults who are in West Virginia this week, engaged in missions and learning to be the presence of Christ.

                     ~ Blessings, Michael

Sunday Funday

As the youth leader I often struggle with ideological practice of having everything we do relate back to a religious idea or practice. I will ask myself, “Does this further the Kingdom of God?” Most often the answer is a resounding YES! But as I strolled through the Wal-Mart aisles picking up dish soap, a few buckets, and tarp – I couldn’t help but think that the 45-foot-super-awesome-slip-and-slide might just be for our own enjoyment.

Ultimately, we could have connected our journey downhill to the concepts of hope, courage, and God’s divine protection. Like – I hope I don’t break my leg, or I will take courage and get a running start, or “Oh Mercy!” this is super fast (Jesus, take the wheeeeeeel ♫)! We could have also used it as an invitation tool to help facilitate other youth joining our group – which we tried! There were a few neighborhood children that came over to see what we doing but I think they were too overwhelmed at all of the awesomeness that was taking place and really only came over to get a closer look. A small number of my other neighbors also came outside to openly view our craziness, but most stayed indoors away from all of our giggling and screaming – I imagine they were all peeking out of their windows like Jimmy Stewart’s character L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries in the movie Rear Window, waiting for one of us to slip up (pun intended).

It wasn’t all fun games though… well… yes it was. There was pizza, water balloons, water slingshots (although they didn’t work too well), card games, some sidewalk art, and of course the biggest slip-and-slide in Charlottesville (at least for today), and after all was said and done there were only a few grass scratches and bumped knees – but as I explained to the kids, that’s how you know you had fun! And honestly, that’s really what it was all about – having fun. And you know what else? Having fun is great. I highly recommend it. In fact, I’m fairly sure 9 out of 10 doctors recommend having fun on a daily basis.

Now, if only we could find some biblical basis for all the fun we had…

(insert dramatic pause)

Boom. King Solomon comes through.

Yes, according to rabbinic tradition, the book Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon in his old age and I quote:

Ecclesiastes 8:15: So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. (NLT)

There it is.

“Have fun.”

So much of what our youth have to look forward is not always going to be fun – being an adult is hard. You can ask one, I’m sure they’ll tell you all about it! Jobs, money, bills, work, etc. Think about the first things that adults talk about when they see each other! They are very rarely in the market for having some fun. There’s a great quote from the children’s book The Little Prince written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that illustrates the adult conundrum:

“Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

If you were to say to the grown-ups: “I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they would not be able to get an idea of that house at all. You have to say to them: “I saw a house that cost $400,000.” Then they would exclaim: “Oh, what a pretty house that is!”

Now, I’m only 30 years old – but this already hits home with me and speaks to how I sometimes view the world.

Thankfully, I have a job – well, 2 jobs actually – that keep me young. I am regularly reminded of the necessity to not take things too seriously or get too upset about the adult method of doing things and I am so very thankful that in this moment, on this day – we can fly down the hill and roll over backwards with laughter. Thankful that we are able to create memories that will bring a smile to our face when we’re feeling down and when we’re working hard – because, ultimately, God does want us to work hard. I dare say he needs us to work hard – we are told that the mountain is steep and the path is narrow.

So for now, while we can, let’s have some fun.

Funday 1 Funday 2

Funday 3

 

Classic Hymns of Our Faith

We will be singing some of the classic hymns of our faith in the morning worship services in July and August. I have been collecting favorites from classes and individuals for several months, and we will feature as many of them as we can during the worship services. Do you have a favorite hymn? Let me know so that I can put them on my list.

Alba

 

Report on Church Council Meeting

Last Sunday, I met with our Church Council and Deacons, and together we discussed the job descriptions of a “Ministry Resident” (a two-year position for a seminary-trained graduate to explore and gain experience in congregational ministry) and a “Director of Creative Arts” (a part-time position for a musician with theological training that can assist in the musical, audio-visual and participatory aspects of our creative service).  I also presented an initial description of the creative worship service that I’ve been proposing. Those who attended the meeting asked good questions and provided valuable input.

One point that was made repeatedly was the importance of providing more information to the congregation and garnering wide support for this venture. Our leadership is working on revising the job descriptions, and they will be distributed in time for a church-wide town hall meeting in August.

Stay tuned for more details later.

I will be on vacation from July 14-27. While I’m away, please welcome our guest preachers, Rev. Elizabeth Dowdy on July 20 and Rev. Lynn Litchfield on July 27.

~Blessings, Michael

 

WMU School Supplies Project

The WMU is collecting money to purchase school supplies for the low-income children at Woodbrook Elementary School.

This project is coordinated by Love INC in cooperation with city and county schools’ Family Support Workers.

You can make checks payable to UBC and earmark them for “School Supplies.”

 

Thinking Out Loud

thinking-out-loudWhat a wonderful morning of worship we experienced last Sunday at our Summer Choir Program! I am so grateful that four of our former Ministers of Music — Carl Beard, Len Willingham, Mike Norris and Kevin Holland — spanning three decades of service, all returned to UBC last Sunday. What a joyful reunion to see them and their families! These four directed our Sanctuary Choir in an “extended musical sermon” preaching the love and grace of God in Christ! Also, many thanks to Alba Beasley, Barbara Moore, our Summer Choir and instrumentalists for their leadership in worship. We are blessed to have such musical talents at UBC!

In other matters, I want to give you an update regarding my proposal for a “creative worship service.” As I continue to receive feedback, you have helped me realize that I had been unclear regarding why I spent two sermons giving details about this proposal before the Church Council had given its approval. While the ministerial staff, Deacons, and members of the Personnel, and Finance committees were already engaged in conversation with me about this proposal, they too have not given me their final approval. That gave the perception that I was not following our usual process for congregational decision-making.

I want to affirm our church’s process for vetting and approving major, new endeavors through both the Deacons and the Church Council before bringing it up to the church for a discussion and vote.  That is our standard process of congregational decision-making and it is a good one. We take a question or issue, step back and take time to process it, and then come back with an answer or well-thought-out and detailed plan. As an introvert, that’s my default methodology. read on

Exciting Developments

A lot of exciting things are happening at UBC! Last week, we held a very successful Vacation Bible School in which we had an enrollment of 86 children, with an average attendance of 79 for VBS and 33 for the afternoon camp session. I was especially gratified to know that 18 of the children were from the community with no connection to the members and families of University Baptist. Many thanks to Erin Brown, Bob Badgett and others for leading and volunteering at VBS this year!

In my sermon on Sunday, I gave more details regarding my proposal to launch a second worship service here at UBC. You can read the sermon here.

In my sermon, I tried to explain how that second service is part of our new vision and mission venture to minister to people outside our congregation, including the community at the UVA Medical Center. I also mentioned the cost and sacrifice needed to launch this venture. read on

Summer Choir Program

Join us this Sunday (June 29)  in worship at 11:00 a.m. as our Sanctuary Choir presents its annual summer choir program!

Four of our former Ministers of Music — Carl Beard, Len Willingham, Mike Norris and Kevin Holland — will join Alba Beasley in directing the choir during the worship service.

It promises to be a wonderful morning of worship through music, and a joyous homecoming for our beloved former ministers of music.

 

Dying for Rebirth

Sermon preached by Michael Cheuk, on June 22, 2014.  Taken from Matthew 10:24-39.

This morning’s New Testament lesson from Matthew is a challenging word. I didn’t choose it. It was the assigned Gospel lesson for today in the Revised Common Lectionary. This passage is a hard teaching of Jesus that challenges my tendency to see him solely in comforting, pastoral terms. But Jesus declares some sobering realities to his disciples. In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus had just sent out his twelve disciples to the nearby Jewish towns and villages on a mission of preaching and healing. Gone were the comforting days when these students were nestled in the cocoon of Jesus’ protective care, being fed by Jesus, watching and learning from Jesus their teacher. Now, Jesus is pushing his students out into the world, and Jesus is preparing them to face resistance and persecution as a result of the mission. This resistance will come not just from outside, from those who are not yet believers. No, the resistance may also come from within, from family members, and yes, even from themselves. Many times, “resistance” is too strong a word. “Concern” might better describe the feelings of those who need more information, who need greater clarity before going on mission. After all, Jesus himself advised his followers to “count the cost” before embarking on an important venture.

In the past couple of weeks, I have received comments and thoughts from some of you regarding my idea of launching a second service for the purpose of reaching out to the university community. Thanks to your input, I’ve come to realize that I need to explain and clarify more about what I’m proposing. Allow me to offer these thoughts for your consideration. read on

Pages: 1 2 3 15