Weather Plans: Sunday 12/10

Advertisements

PHPC Advent Mission Tree 2017: Sundays, 12/10 and 12/17

 

Let there be… a season to give! Stop by the Advent Mission Tree in the Narthex following the 11 am worship service on Sunday, Dec. 3 or the 8:30 and 11 am worship services on Sunday, Dec. 10 and pull off one of many star ornaments that contain requests for helping others–agencies the church partners with like Clifton, Salt Light Center and Rainbow Village and a family with four children in need of shoes and clothes. Members of the Mission & Outreach Committee will be available to give out detailed information on the requests and answer any questions. Many requests will be due back to the church on Sunday Dec. 17.
 

Fry On Friday: “Thank You,” November 17, 2017

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church friends:  Although I will continue to write “Fry on Friday,”  after November 17th I will no longer send it to you. If you wish to continue to read my writings after that date, you may find them at https://fryonfriday.wordpress.com/.


          Even on the bad days, I’ve never imagined doing anything else but being a pastor of a church.  This church. 

            Preaching is part of the job.  Some weeks it’s the very best part  The ideas flow naturally and I can’t wait until Sunday morning.  Some sermons, however are like C-sections, all mechanics and sweat and hard work. 

            About a month after we started worship services, I realized that I had already run out of things to preach.  You allowed me to make a fool of myself in Children’s Sermons with the implication, “Just let us laugh at you; that’ll be enough.” 

            Then you gave me the gift of time.  Time to study the scripture,  read, reflect, search for something to say week after week in a desperate attempt to answer the ceaseless question, “What shall I preach about next Sunday?”

            You gave me time for the preparation behind my sermons; you let me find God in the scriptures and in my studies. This has shaped my soul. 

            Thank you.

             Occasionally while delivering a sermon, I would suddenly be aware of how quiet and motionless the room had become.  “My God!” I would think briefly, “They’re actually listening!”  Those moments were holy because I knew it was not me you were listening to, but the word of God for us that day. “People hear the sermon they need to hear,” we preachers sometimes say to each other, “not the one we intended to preach.”   I don’t know if you heard  the message I intended to preach, but what you heard was at least preached through me, and that was a gift from you.  And God.

            Every once in a while, you’d quote me.  “I remember something you preached five years ago that really made a difference,” you’d say, and follow that with a story.  And that was the best gift of all:  you have allowed me to make a difference here, a    difference to you.

             You gave me time to prepare to preach, and you gave me yourselves.  You opened up your lives to me, giving me the opportunity to also see God in you.

             Sometimes it was beautiful, as you spoke your vows in a wedding ceremony or as you presented your child to God in the sacrament of baptism or when you affirmed in front of  God and everybody,  “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.”  Sometimes it was beautiful beyond words.
          
              Sometimes it was awful.  The phone call from the ER nurse that said, “We have a couple whose 3-year-old child has just died unexpectedly.  They’ve asked you to come.”   On the worst day of your life, you have invited me to be present.  Who am I to walk such holy ground?   God is present in you, in tough times.  For you to allow me to be in the room and share that presence was a priceless gift.

            Thank you.

            For countless plates of Christmas goodies: cookies, fudge, cheese sticks, pecans, home-made breads…and in 32 years, not a single fruitcake.

            Thank you! 

              It has been a privilege to be your pastor, to serve this church, and to take my place as part of this community of faith called Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church. Thank you. 


After founding Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, GA., in 1985 and serving as the head of staff for 32 years, Dr. Dave Fry retired from full time ministry this week of November 12. Please keep him and his wife Debbie and the church in your prayers as they both see what God has in store for them next on this journey of faith. 

Fry On Friday, “Music Will Get Me Through This,” Nov. 10, 2017

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church friends:  Although I will continue to write “Fry on Friday,”  after November 17th I will no longer send it to you.  If you wish to continue to read my writings after that date, you may find them at https://fryonfriday.wordpress.com/.


            Music destroys me these days.  And the music carries me.  My last Sunday of 1,664 in the pulpit of Pleasant Hill Church is day after tomorrow.  (That’s thirty-two years, not counting vacations and a couple sabbaticals.)  Most days I function fairly well, staying busy, staying engaged, staying in the moment.  Then a chance encounter with a snippet of melody and line of lyrics and I’m an instant hot mess.  How is it I can get through scores of sermons dry-eyed, yet not two lines of a song without a ten-tissue melt-down?

            Music tears me apart.  And music gets me through it.   At least one of the perks of my job is that I get to select the hymns.  Here are excerpts from some of them.  They’re from Glory to God, the hymnal we use in worship.  We ended worship last Sunday this way:  #798.  All with Joyful Exultation. (Sounds like a Hasidic wedding dance.)     

Stanza four:

Dry our tears we shed in mourning; give us steadfast hope always;
     fill our hearts with expectation;  fill our songs with thanks and praise.

            My pre-grief tears are healthy mourning, I am told, so I try not to fight them.  On the other hand, whatever steadfast hope I have is pure gift and pure grace, and I embrace every moment.  My heart is as filled with sadness as with expectation, but when I  fill my mouth with thanks and praise, sometimes my heart gets carried along in the updraft. 

            And we’ll end worship this Sunday singing: #280.   Come, O Spirit, Dwell Among Us.  The F-minor melody sounds like a Braveheart battle cry Mel Gibson would use to fire up the troops.   

Stanza two:

We would raise our alleluias for the grace of yesteryears;
for tomorrow’s unknown pathway, hear, O Lord, our humble prayers.
In the church’s pilgrim journey you have led us all the way;
still in presence move before us, fire by night and cloud by day.

            It isn’t that “tomorrow’s unknown pathway” will be dreadful.  Just unknown,  like every other tomorrow I’ve ever faced.  In each one, God has “led us all the way.” I’m retiring, but God is not. God is still in the business of creating tomorrows and leading us there.

            We’re going to start with # 684  “Faith Begins By Letting Go  (to the tune of “For the Beauty of the Earth.) 

Faith begins by letting go, giving up what had seemed sure,
taking risks and pressing on, though the way feels less secure:
pilgrimage both right and odd, trusting all our life to God.

Faith endures by holding on, keeping memory’s roots alive
so that hope may bear its fruit; promise-fed, our souls will thrive,
not through merit we possess but by God’s great faithfulness.

            “Promise-fed, our souls will thrive.”  I can’t improve on those words.  Maybe singing them Sunday will help get me through this.

 


Dr. Dave Fry is the senior and founding pastor of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia, which was started in 1985. He will retire from PHPC and full-time ministry on Sunday Nov. 12. Send comments to “Fry on Friday” at dave@pleasanthillpc.org.