Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!

School is back in session and students have resumed their busy academic schedules, as well as homework, after-school activities, athletic contests, and everything else school-related. It is a busy time – and busy for parents as well. And – it’s also busy for church people. The Fall church schedule has resumed; Rally Day has been celebrated; the Dinners are quickly approaching; Thanksgiving and Christmas are not far off. In the midst of it all, two messages were presented that outlined important “homework” assignments. You might have thought that you had “graduated” from the days of doing homework, but that isn’t the case, at least, according to the messages that I offered on 9/11 and 9/18.

In “Lost & Found” (9/11), Jesus’ parables about a lost sheep and a lost coin (Luke 15), as well as the Psalmwriter’s reflections (Psalm 51), formed the basis for our first assignment. We were called to reflect on the times when we have been lost – physically lost or spiritually lost. The “spiritual” reflection might be especially important, as we acknowledged God as the One who “found” us. The lesson to remember from this exercise was that God never “loses” us, even in times when we feel hopeless, unworthy, or totally “lost.” That’s the “bottom-line” value of this assignment.

In “Creating a ‘Golden Parachute’” (9/18), the focus was on the future of your church community. Some executives are provided enormous sums of money if they lose their jobs; the dishonest steward (Luke 16) was not one of them. He had to create his own “Golden Parachute,” through using his abilities and his clever ideas. Even though he was dishonest in his actions, his technique offers a plan for your future. There were 4 simple steps, beginning with a realistic look at the Emmanuel UCC of 2016, then an assessment of all the strengths and abilities that you have at Emmanuel, then taking action based on how your needs and your abilities match up, and finally, trusting God’s guidance throughout the process. It’s not a ready-made “Golden Parachute” – but it is one that will lead Emmanuel into a hope-filled future.

Think about those two assignments and use them when necessary. Looking back and planning ahead are always assignments that can reveal lessons learned and new paths to pursue.

May God continue to speak to us – in our personal lives and in our church community!

Rev. Stout

PS: Please remember – I can be reached by phone at 409-658-7136 (cell) or e-mail at – please contact me if a need/emergency arises. I will also be available at the Church on Sunday morning or Tuesday usually from 9am-1pm. I can be available by appointment at other times/days that may be more convenient for you.

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