I hope everyone enjoyed the summer break. Many private schools started the fall semester earlier this week. Seminole County public schools begin today and Orange County public schools begin Monday. Please be extra cautious on the roads as students make their way to and from bus stops and buses make frequent stops to pick up students at the designated locations. Also be sure to allow extra commuting time to accommodate the increased traffic.
We thank the many volunteers who have committed countless hours to preparing the parsonage and campus for the new school year. The outside windows of the parsonage still need to be cleaned and the inside needs a good cleaning. If you are able to stop by this weekend to assist feel free to speak with Kevin. Financially, we will continue to collect offerings for the $10,000 moving expense and the $4,000 security gate required to remain accredited. Pantry items for the Gumm family may be dropped off in the designated location in the narthex.
This Sunday is our back to school special worship service. Please join us for worship as we welcome new families and familiar faces. The incoming 3rd graders will receive a new Bible to help them in their study of God’s word.
Monday evening, the 13th, the fellowship committee will meet 7:00 pm to plan various fellowship activities for the remainder of the year including Pastor Gumm’s installation service September 9th. Feel free to attend the planning session.
Voters, please mark your calendars for the annual meeting that will occur Sunday August 26th after the 10:00 am service.
On a personal note, one of the Daily Devotions from this week touched me in an extra special way. “The Ride Home” is something we always look forward to at the end of a long day. One of the daily devotions located on the WELS.net website put this concept into a new perspective for me. Allow me to share it with you here:
The Ride Home
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, … to be made new in the attitude of your minds.
Dale Hammock is 65. He is bald with a gray mustache. He is wearing shorts and a white T-shirt. He steps into a Denny’s restaurant for a bite to eat. The hostess walks him over to a booth where he sits down. Around him are the usual sights and sounds—the muffled drone of a dozen conversations, the crying child, the shouts of food orders to the kitchen, the burst of laughter, the clack of plates. And Dale Hammock is afraid.
He keeps looking around. He feels vulnerable. He is terrified of letting his guard down. Then the server comes with questions he’s not sure how to answer. And the knives and forks—so many knives and forks.
For the past 21 years, Dale Hammock has lived within the walls of a prison. Today is his first day of freedom. It’s the first day of his new life. But to discard the old mindset from prison is going to be a monumental task. “This is going to take a minute,” he quietly says with a grand understatement. “This is going to take a minute.”
Fortunately for Dale, he is not alone. Carlos is with him. Carlos is part of what is called “The Ride Home Program.” Carlos has been where Dale now is, and so he knows exactly how Dale feels. Carlos has done this many times. He picks up a just-released prisoner outside the prison wall and spends that crucial first day with him. He shares his own story. He talks about the challenges. He listens. He gives a lot of encouragement. And he tells the ex-prisoner that he is not alone.
But Dale Hammock needs far more than just one day, and Carlos knows it. And so at the end of the day, Carlos introduces Dale to others—others who can encourage him, others who can be there for him, others who understand.
You and I were prisoners too, prisoners within the four walls of our own sin. But then Jesus came. His life and death on our behalf broke down the walls and, through faith in him, brought us into our new life. In our new life there is forgiveness, light, freedom, and joy.
But the old prison mindset is stubborn. The old fears and darkness can so easily return. That is why you and I have a Ride Home Program as well. It is the Church. It is our fellow ex-prisoners. They all know that discarding the old prison mindset is a monumental task. They are there to share their stories. They are there to talk about the challenges. They are there to listen and give encouragement. They are there to remind me that I am not alone.
And most importantly, Jesus is there too.
Lord Jesus, you have washed me clean and set me free. Never stop refreshing my mind in this one beautiful truth. Amen.