6/15/03, Trinity Sunday, Year B
characteristic, if not the main mark, of Christians is that we feel led by the Spirit of God. Many of us have followed the practice of praying about all things both great and small. Prayer is the medium through which we most often feel God's leading. If we are going to find His way we must pray. Our epistle reading for Trinity Sunday says that, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God." (Romans 8: 14, NRSV)
Marilyn and I came to Atlanta First six years ago saying that we had been led by the Spirit to jump at this pastoral appointment when it was offered by Bishop Davis. Now we are saying that we feel led by the same God, and the same bishop and our dear friend and Superintendent Martha Forrest, to move on. Some may be asking, "How can this be?" But, most of you know because your lives have also been directed in and out of situations. As I said last Sunday, God's will is always contingent upon our response to it. We have always followed His will when it was clear, as has been this coming and going. So, now the Holy Spirit leads us into another field.
We have had a productive ministry here in most ways. The church has increased in membership from just over 900 to just under 1000. During most of our time here there was something of a spirit of resurgence. We have kept the old buildings repaired and are currently delicately restoring our precious stained glass windows, which I will greatly miss. We did finally install and elevator.
I now feel good about passing the baton to my friend of many years, Wayne Johnson. He was a defensive tackle for Mississippi State, won the Silver Star for Valor in Vietnam. After a short career in banking, having earned a M.B.A. in finance, he felt led into the ordained ministry. He has received three earned graduate degrees in divinity. He has served several significant pastoral appointments and founded the Johns Creek Church. I feel that Wayne is God's choice for this time at this pulpit. As did I, he will preach his first sermon here on the day that he officially assumes office, Thursday, June 26 at noon. His first Sunday will be June 29. I know that most of you will greet him warmly. If you will support him he will do a great job. He is a good man and feels that the Spirit is leading him here. I feel confident that it is so.
Marilyn and I begin our ministry at Carrollton First on the same schedule. We feel blessed, and led by the Spirit, to this great church. I have known Carrollton for many years. Having served Rome First for five years it will be familiar to be back in our Rome-Carrollton District of the North Georgia Conference. Here I have preached three sermons a week for six years, which is over 900 sermons. At Carrollton I will preach the same sermon at three worship services each Sunday morning. They range from Casual, Contemporary to Traditional worship. While we were at Stone Mountain First, I may have been the first pastor in our conference to utilize a three Sunday morning worship service schedule, with two Sunday School hours. Since I love to preach it is exciting for me to get back into that regiment. Please pray for us as we move on under God's guidance and grace. My archived sermon site of over 300 Revised Common Lectionary based sermons will be moved from the Atlanta First website to <bobssermons.com> They will also appear as a link on the Carrollton First website <cfumc.com> I am moving and my sermons are moving too, hopefully also under the leading of the Spirit.
Being willing to move is an essential part of following God's guidance. Typically, if we are going to do something we have to go somewhere. God moves us in our souls, minds and sometimes in our locations. In my entire life I have never known but one person who lived out his long life in the same house in s which he was born. Likewise, the Spirit is faithful to move our attitudes and ideas into conformity with His will.
Let me hasten to say that it is not just preachers that move along under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit. The Good News of this Pentecost emphasis is that all believers are called to seek and submit to His leading. Unlike most people, my job as a pastor has never changed, but my field of service has changed. Our family has moved several times; our daughters would say, "Too many times!" However, most working families have had to pack up and move several times. At least, we have not moved out of our beloved North Georgia, as have some of you. Moving is never fun. It is especially hard on small children. Current popular psychology says that women nest and men hunt; so, if that is true, it is especially challenging for wives to move. Men sometimes seem to enjoy the challenge of a new field and forest to explore. We have spent many of our days recently hunting for a house in Carrollton. Our house in Sandy Springs will be rented out as we rented it during our tenure in Rome.
Today is Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost Sunday. We celebrate the fact that God has been leading His people since Creation. Today is also Father's Day and we always draw a connection between the ministry of our father's dedication to parenting, and our Heavenly Father's great love for us in sending His only Son to die as a vicarious atonement for our rebellion. The Good News today is that our God in Three Persons loves us, guides us, and always knows exactly who we are and where we are. The Gospel for any lost children of our Heavenly Father is that He is seeking us and that we do not have to stay lost off from His family.
It is a terrible thing to be lost, or to lose a child. I remember well the terror I felt one afternoon in Avondale Estates when our Lyn was missing from our backyard. We were absolutely frantic for what seemed like an eternity but turned out to be about twenty minutes. I was imagining the worst and Marilyn went out searching in the neighborhood. It turned out that Lyn was just off visiting with a neighbor, but I was frantic. In that experience I think that I may have felt just an inkling of how our Heavenly Father must feel when one of us kids is lost off. Out of His broken heart He sent Jesus to win us back safely into the protection, assurance and providence of His household.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor