July 2008


Will someone tell Linda Howard that it is not Christmas yet
Will someone tell Linda Howard that it is not Christmas yet

The first years I came to Special Gathering, I would all but rush every disabled people I encountered whether in shopping malls or the airport.  I would engage them or their parents in conversation.   I wanted to meet and greet every disabled person in the world.  I was endeavoring to let them know that I wasn’t ashamed of them or their presence. 

Now, I’m not talking about people I knew but total strangers.  Of course, I was careful to engage the parent or caregiver first.  Then if the person accompanying the disabled individual seemed comfortable with my overtures, I would engage the person who was mentally challenged.

Conversely, I noticed that at times other professionals in the field took the opposite approach.  They all but ignored any disabled person they saw in public that they didn’t know.  Deliberately, they avoided eye contact and casual smiles.  I assumed there was a good reason for their behavior; but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

Slowly, I came to understand as I accompanied more and more people with disabilities during public events or public places.  There were reasons why my counterparts in ministry acted in this manner.  I came to realize that one of the best compliments you can pay a person with disabilities is the security of anonymity.  Often, when I accompany my husband or friend to the shopping mall or store, I am amazed at the brazenness shown to people with disabilities by otherwise reasonable looking individuals.

Several times, as I have struggled to manage opening a door and maneuvering my husband’s wheelchair, people have intervened in the most peculiar ways.   Once a woman about 10 years my senior and at least 40 pounds lighter than I am came up to my husband’s chair and took it away from me.  “Let me do that,” she said, shoving me out of the way.  “You hold the door,” she demanded.   I was too shocked to react properly.  In a daze, I reached for the door as she tried to move his chair.

Finding the job much more difficult than she anticipated, she inquired, “There are no handles on this chair.  Why aren’t there handles on his chair?”

I smiled, “Because my husband prefers that other people not push his chair.”

“Well, fine,” she said, injured by my rudeness.  However, she didn’t move away.  To her credit, she grabbed the door.  “Then you see if you can get him inside the restaurant in this chair without any handles.  I’ll hold the door.”

With her helping to hold open the door, I was able to easily position the chair into the entry of the restaurant.  Happily, rather than being offended, she smiled.  “Guess you just need to know what you’re doing,” she commented as she walked away.

I’m convinced that–like me–most people don’t want to be rude.  They are like this dear woman.  She genuinely wanted to help.  Perhaps she also wanted to be sure that my husband wasn’t excluded from a restaurant.  However, like her, their efforts may be misguided.   There are some pretty simple rules that can be followed that will help the person and save his/her dignity.

First rule of thumb is to never touch a chair or walker or a disabled person without permission.  Their chair or walker is the legs of the disabled person.  You wouldn’t touch the legs of a non-disabled person without permission.  Why assume that its permissible to touch a chair?

Second, ask permission before you rush in to help.  “May I help?” is an easy question to ask.

Third, once you have permission, ask what you can do to help.  Don’t assume that the hardest task is the task that is needed.  Usually, holding the door is much more helpful for the disabled person than pushing the chair.

Fourth, don’t be offended if your offer for help is rejected.  It isn’t that you aren’t capable of helping but it may be that there is a system or a technique that is needed that would be too complicated to explain.  Again, I’ll use my husband as an example. 

When he is the driver of his own vehicle, his wheel chair can be disassembled into seven smaller pieces.  Then he stores it in the front seat next to him.  In order to get the chair back out of the car, each piece must go over his lap in front of the steering wheel.  There is only one way that the chair can be put into the car for him to be able to get the chair out of the car by himself.  If someone puts one piece in the wrong position, he would not be able to reassemble the chair once he is at his destination.  Therefore, he will always decline help in disassembling and storing his chair. 

“I can’t believe he won’t ever let me help him,” people often comment to me. 

It is at these moment that I completely understand the joy of anonymity. Having a disability is a tricky business.  Do you not offend when help is offered?  Or do you risk being offensive so that you can function later in the day?  Of course, the person with a disability will almost always err on the side of functionality. 

I have to admit that I’m still more friendly in public than many of my counterparts.  However, my husband says I can engage a tree in a conversation. 

What is the funniest situation that you have encountered when accompanying a person who is mentally challenged in public?

A man with a grateful heart

A man with a grateful heart

Have we sometimes fostered a false sense of entitlement within the mentally challenged community?  I’ve sat in after-session conferences and heard street-wise, high functioning self-advocates teach other mentally challenged self-advocates how to beat the system.  They were able to instruct their peers about legal ways to get things to which they aren’t entitled.  

While I do understand how important self-advocacy is–and that isn’t the point of this entry–where is the responsibility that must accompany each privilege?  And the benefits that we as a community enjoy are a privilege.  Someone, in fact lots of someones, have to work hard to pay the taxes to provide for the funding on which we live.  Please let me make this clear, I firmly believe that the State should take care of the men and women who populate this community.  Yet, I also believe that as a community we must not ever take for granted the things we have been given.

As a parent, I would kill myself and scrap, doing without in order to insure that my children had the things they needed.  The only times it chaffed was when they showed an attitude of ingratitude. This is true with everyone.  No one wants to be taken for granted.

About a year ago, I connected with an old friend.  Nan had been working for about six years with Americorp.  She endeavors to place senior citizens in semi-volunteer jobs so that they can make financial ends meet.  During our lunch she made a startling statement.  “I’m sure you know,” she said, carefully folding her napkin, “that the disabled community get all the benefits.  No one cares about the elderly.”

The reason that was shocking to me was that I had often heard and even said myself, “In Florida, the elderly have a powerful lobby.  They get all the benefits.  No one cares about people who are disabled.”  Perhaps rather than expecting that others must continue to work hard to provide for me, it’s time for me as a recipient of government funding to realize that there is only so much pie to go around.   And I should be grateful for the things I do have.

The Specia Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community evangelizes and disciples this important population.  We don’t receive any government funding.  Our main support comes from about 100 local churches in two states.  However, I must confess that I’ve greedily looked at the budget of some churches Christmas program and realized that they allot more for a Christmas padgent than our entire year’s budget.  Then I compare the amount they give to evangelize the mentally challenged community to that budget and I’ve chaffed.  However, that is not right.  I must constantly remind myself that this is their money and this congregation can spend it any way they see fit.   

Does that mean that I believe that we can’t fight for more funding?  Of course not but we must be sure that we maintain a grateful heart and a humility while endeavoring to be sure that we are given the correct proportion of the money pie.  Haughtiness will only make other people bristle.  Gratefulness and sincerity are virtures that still reap great dividends in the marketplace and in the hearts of hard-working people.

What are some ways that you have seen gratefulness exhibited within your membership?

Who Is This Supper Man?

Who Is This Super Man?

As soon as I have the play for 2008 written, I will post it.  However, here is a play we have done in the past.  The music for this play came from the album Gospel Christmas Songs by Cedarmont Kids.  I hope you find this beneficial.  Feel free to modify and change anything you need.  In our plays we use few scenery but some props.  We do have pretty amazing costumes that were sewn for us by a wonderful lady from First Baptist Church of Merritt Island.

Who Is This Super Man?

 

By Linda G. Howard

 

Choir should be positioned on the side of the stage opposite where the actors will be entering and exiting the stage. Choir sings, “Joy to the World.”  People come from the side of the stage on the floor.  They are eating popcorn and drinking Coke.   Their scripts can be put on the popcorn boxes so they can read them.  There is an eating table with a table cloth and four chairs.  One of the movie goers is pretending to fly. Everyone except three of the people leave the stage.   Three of the movie people move toward the audience.

 

Joy to the World! The Lord is Come

 

Everybody say, Joy!  (3xs)

Everybody say, Joy to the world!

 

1. Joy to the World!  The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King.

      Let every heart prepare Him room,

      And heaven and nature sing, And haven and nature sing,

      And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

 

2.  Joy to the World the Savior reigns, Let men their songs employ.

      While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

      Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy,

      Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

3.  He rules the world with truth and grace,

      And make the nations prove the glories of His righteousness

      And wonders of His love,

      And wonders of His love,

      And wonders, wonders of His love.

 

Male Movie Goer 1: That’s the seventh time I’ve seen the Superman movie.  I love Superman.  I wish I could be just like him.   

 

Movie Goer 2:  That’s the silliest thing I ever heard.  Superman isn’t real. 

 

Male Movie Goer 1:    (He takes the table cloth and wraps it around his neck like a cape.)  I know but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a savior like him.  You know, someone who is there whenever we have a need.  (Pauses and scratches his head)  Why, I could have used Superman today.  The bus was late and I had to miss work.

 

Movie Goer 3:  Yeah, Superman could’ve flown you to work in no time.

 

Movie Goer 2:  (Taking the table cloth from Movie Goer 1 and putting it back on the table)  I can’t believe you’re talking like this?  Don’t you remember what season this is?  It’s Christmas time.

 

Male Movie Goer 1:  What does Christmas have to do with my missing the bus?

 

Movie Goer 2:  (irritated) You said that you needed a savior.  Well, that’s why Jesus was born. He is the Savior of the world, remember?

 

Movie Goer 3:  No! No! No! I need a super hero!  A really, special man who can help keep us out of trouble.  (MG 1 and 3 show their muscles.)

 

Movie Goer 2:   Have you totally missed what happened when Jesus was born?  Everything about it was a miracle. 

 

The three movie goers sit at the table.

 

Reader 1:       God, the Father, knew that people need someone to help them with  their lives.  We do need a Savior.  Sin has made us fearful.  We hurt each other and ourselves.  God had a plan to send His Savior.  That Savior was His son, Jesus.

 

Choir sings “The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy.”    Open the curtains.  Mary comes to center stage and is looking up to the sky.  The house lights go off and the only light is on Mary.  The Angel Gabriel appears.  He puts his finger up pointing to the sky. 

2. The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy

 

1.     The Virgin Mary had a Baby boy. (3xs)

        And they said that His name will be Jesus.

 

chorus

He come from the glory.

He come from the glorious kingdom

He come from the glory.

He come from the glorious kingdom

 

2. The Angels sang when the Baby was born…

chorus

3. The Shepherds came-a when the Baby was born…

chorus

4. The wise men saw-a where the Baby was born…

chorus

 

 

Reader 2:  God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin girl who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee.  The girl was engaged to marry a man named Joseph.  Her name was Mary. 

 

(As the choir begins to sing, “Wonderful Counselor,” the angel takes Mary‘s hands.)

3. Wonderful Counselor

 

1. Tell me, who do you call The Wonderful Counselor?

 

 (Chorus)

Oh, oh,  glory, hallelujah

Oh, oh,  glory, hallelujah

Glory, Hallelujah to the newborn King.

 

2. The Holy Spirit will come on the Blessed Virgin Mary.  (Chorus)

3. Well, they’ll call Jesus, “TheWonderful Counselor.”  (Chorus)

4. Cryin’ Peace on earth, Good will to your neighbor…  (Chorus)

5. Well, I call Jesus, my wonderful Savior… (Chorus)

6. They’ll follow the star to find the baby…  (Chorus)

 

When the song ends, the angel leaves.  Mary sits on one of the benches. Hands and face held up in prayer.

 

Joseph comes out and stands in the center of the stage. Mary meets him and uses gestures to explain about the angel.   As they talk to each other, they move around the stage.  Choir sings, “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child.”

4.  Jesus, Oh, What a Wonderful Child

 

(chorus) Jesus! Jesus! Oh, what a wonderful child!

Jesus!  Jesus! So lowly, meek and mild.

New life, new hope, new joy He’ll bring

Won’t you listen to what the angel proclaims.

Glory, glory, glory, to the newborn king.

 

I am an angel from the heavenly King.

He’ll born in a lowly manger.

The Virgin Mary is his mother.

And Joseph, you’re His earthly father. 

Take Mary to be your only wife

You’ll be blessed with a heavenly star.

To see King Jesus will be your joy

In a manger filled with hay.

 

Repeat chorus 2xs

Tag

Glory, glory, glory, to the newborn king.

 

 

Reader 1:       Mary was engaged to marry Joseph.  But before they married, Mary learned that she was pregnant with a child by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Mary’s husband, Joseph was a good man.  He did not want to bring shame to Mary before the people.  So he planned to divorce her secretly. 

 

Mary turns away from Joseph and has her back to the audience. She slowly walks back stage.  The choir sings “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”  Joseph goes to center stage.  He is confused, hurt, and angry.  He sits down and falls asleep. 

5.  Go! Tell It on the Mountain

I said, Go!

(chorus) Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

 

1.     While Joseph tossed in anger,

 An Angel came to earth,

The Angel came to tell him

Of our great Savior’s birth.

 

2.     The Heavenly One told Joseph,

“Take Mary as your wife.

She’ll be the Savior’s mother.

He’ll live a holy life.”

 

3.     So he obeyed the angel

The humble Christ was born

And brought us God’s salvation

That blessed Christmas morn.

 

And I said, Go.

Chorus

 

 

Joseph’s Angel comes on stage wakes him up and talks to Joseph.  After one minute of singing, the  angel leaves.  Mary comes on stage and Joseph goes over to Mary, takes her hand and helps her off the stage.

 

Reader 3:  And Joseph did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream.  He married Mary.

 

(Joseph puts his arm around Mary.  Mary and Joseph go to back of the auditorium.) The choir sings, “O, Little Town of Bethlehem.” 

6.  O Little Town of Bethlehem

 

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.

 

As the choir sings, shepherds should move to the front of the stage (on stage).  When the choir begins to hum, The reader reads:

 

Reader 2:    At that time Augustus Caesar sent out an order to all people.  The order said that all people must write their name in a book.  All people traveled to their own towns to be registered.  So Joseph went to Bethlehem in Judea.  Joseph went with Mary.  While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby. 

 

While the choir is humming and the reading is reading, Mary and Joseph come from the back of the room and go to the back of the stage.

 

Reader 4:  That night, Mary gave birth to her first son, Jesus. 

Choir sings “Mary had a Baby.”

7.  Mary Had a Baby

 

Mary had a baby.  Yes, Lord. 

Mary had a baby, Yes, my Lord;

Mary had a baby, Yes, Lord!

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone.

 

1. What did she name him?  Yes, Lord.

What did she name?  Yes my lord;

What did she name him, Yes, Lord.

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone.

 

2.      She named Him King Jesus, Yes, Lord!

She named him King Jesus, Yes, my Lord.

Wonderful Couns’lor. Yes, Lord.

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone.

 

3.      Where did she lay him?  Yes Lord!

Laid hIm in a manger?  Yes, my Lord!

Wrapped Him in swaddlin’, Yes, Lord!

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone

 

 Open the curtains, Mary and Joseph should be center stage with the baby in Mary’s arms.  There should be no angels on stage at this time.

 

Reader 5:       Some shepherds were in the fields watching their sheep.

 

Reader 6:       An angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds and said,

 

Reader 7:       “Don’t be afraid.”

 

Many Angels appear.  They should point the shepherds to Mary and Joseph and the baby. 

Choir sings, “Rise Up Shepherds and Follow.”

 

8.  Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow

 

There’s a star in the east on Christmas morn,

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

It will lead to the place where the Savior’s born,

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

 

Leave your sheep and leave your rams,

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Leave your flocks and leave your lambs.

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

 

If you take good heed to the angel’s words

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

You’ll forget your flocks, you’ll forget your herds;

Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

 

Follow follow, Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Follow the star of Bethlehem.

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

 As soon as the song begins, the shepherds walk to the center stage on the floor and bow.  One or two shepherds should go on stage and bow before the manger . 

 

Angels should move on to the stage. 

 

As the music begins for “Behold that Star”  The wise men begin to move from the back.  They come on stage and kneel on the floor  before the baby.

 

9. Behold that Star

 

(chorus)

Behold, that star

Behold, that star up yonder,

Behold, that star

This the star of Bethlehem.

 

There was no room found in the inn.

This the star of Bethlehem.

For Him who was born free from sin,

This the star of Bethlehem.

(chorus)

 

The Wise men came from the East

This the star of Bethlehem.

To worship, Him, the Prince of Peace

This the star of Bethlehem.

(chorus)

 

(tag)  This the star of Bethlehem.

 

Choir sings, “Silent Night” as all the movie goers get up walk on stage or go to the front on the floor and bow before the King. Movie Goers 1, 2, and 3 move to the front but they don’t bow.

 

Silent Night

     Silent night, holy night, All is calm all is bright.

Round yon virgin, mother and Child!

Holy infant so tender and mild. 

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly, heavenly peace

 

Silent night Holy night

Son of God, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeem grace

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

 

 

Movie Goer 1—Who needs Superman?

 

Mover Goer 2—We have a Super King and Savior.  (Pointing to the manger)  His name is Jesus.

 

Movie Goers 1, 2, and 3 bow.

 

Choir and audience sings “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  Everyone, except Mary, stands and sings with the choir and audience.

 

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!

Come and behold him, born the King of Angels!

O come, let us adore Him, (3xs) Christ, the Lord.

 

Sing, Choirs of Angels, Sing in exultation.

Sing, all ye hosts of heav’n above.

Glory to God all glory in the highest,

O come, let us adore Him, (3xs) Christ, the Lord!

 

Yea, Lord, We greet Thee, born this happy morning, Jesus to Thee be all glory given.

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,

O come, let us adore Him, (3xs) Christ The Lord.

 

 

 

Wise men travel from East Vero

Wise men travel from East Vero

I began the morning ready to write my daily entry of this blog.  However, I got sidetracked by the fact that I had choir practice this afternoon.  Last Saturday, I had promised the choir that I would have CD’s of our Christmas music and the words of the new Christmas songs printed out for them.  By the time I’d finished my task, it was 1pm and I barely had enough time to rush out the door for Vero Beach and choir.

So, now, it’s almost time for the day to end and I’m just sitting down to do this blog.  Here are some of the questions that I’m asked after each performance of our Christmas play and music. 

“When do you begin practicing the Christmas music?”

In July of each year.  This gives the choir time to memorize all the words to the eight to ten songs that we perform.  This year our choir will memorize eight songs.  The first song will also be the final song.

“Where do you get your plays from?”

We write our own plays.  I write the Melbourne/Vero play.  Richard Stimson writes the Brevard play.

“Where do you get your music?”

That one is a tougher question.  Every year, it’s an adventurous search to find music for the next year.  In fact, I’ve already started looking for new music for next year.  By January, I’ve usually settled on our source and I begin preliminary preparations.  We have been able to get the music from many different places.  We need music that has good orchestration but not complicated arrangements.  In the past, we have used some children’s and youth musical. 

Several years ago after an internet search,  I discovered a children’s split track Christmas album.  That year, we sang the familiar carol favorites from that album.  Then the next year, I realized that it had ten Negro spiritual’s on it.  They were great fun to learn and sing.  The third year, I took different carols from the album and combined them with a couple of the spirituals the choir had really enjoyed from the previous year.  The title of the album is Gospel Christmas Songsperformed by the Cedarmont Kids.  

Let Heaven and Nature Swing was a youth musical that our choir enjoyed singing and the audience was extremely enthusiastic about.  The choir was especially happy to learn a simplified version of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”  In the middle of that piece, the audience began to applaud.  As the choir continued singing, the audience stood on their feet to show their appreciation for the quality of performance the choir did. 

In years past and this year, I’ve slightly adapted the words to music to fit the Christmas season.  This year I’ve used selections from All the Best for Youth.  This is a four volume set.  I’ve adapted a few of the words to make these songs more Christmasy.  We begin with our title song, “Above All Else.”

Here is a list of the songs we will be using:

  1. “Above All Else”
  2. “Here is My Heart”–A song Mary sings to the Lord.  At the end of the song, an angel will appear to Mary and explain that she will bear God’s Son.
  3. “His Strength is Perfect”–A song Mary sings after a disappointing encounter with Joseph.  Joseph will stomp around angry as the choir sings.
  4. “We’ve Got Something to Say”–The song sung by the Angel that appears to Joseph.
  5. “O, Lord, My Rock”–Mary and Joseph sing as they prepare to go to Bethlehem.
  6. “And I Cried, Holy, Holy, Holy”–I changed some of the words to this song so that the song is “And The Angel cried, Glory, Glory, Glory.”  Here, of course, the angels appear to the shepherds.
  7. “King Jesus Is All”–This becomes “Messiah Is Born” and it is sung by the shepherds as they go to find Baby Jesus.
  8. “God is Gonna Finish”–Is the Wise Men’s song as they travel to Bethlehem to find the Baby.
  9. “Above All Else”–This will be our final song.

We usually have a story that wraps itself around the songs.  However, I don’t have to have that until mid-August because play practice begin in September. 

Are you able to obtain good music for your choir at Christmas?  What is your best source?

I have on a new shirt

I have on a new shirt

I inquired casually, “Where’s Andrew?  I don’t remember seeing him this morning.”

His father commented,  “You probably didn’t recognize him.  He has on a new shirt.”  We both smiled.

In a few minutes, I saw Andrew standing near the door entertaining a couple of young women.  He was obviously pleased as peanuts.  “I was wondering where you were,” I told him.  “I didn’t remember seeing you, earlier.”

“You couldn’t recognize me because I have on a my new shirt.”  Andrew proudly puffed out his chest so I could better see his new acquisition.  Together we laughed. 

Don’t ask me why but this silly joke shared by Andrew and his father makes me smile every time I remember it.  Andrew is a member of Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We have one mission–the evangelizing and discipling people who are developmentally disabled.  Andrew began attending about a year before his mother died.  He is an outgoing, handsome young man who has held a job at Wal-Mart since he finished high school. 

After his mother’s funeral, Andrew’s sister approached me discreetly.  She asked me to try and involve their father in Special Gathering.  “He needs something else to do.  He has spoken about how much he appreciates all Special Gathering does for Andrew.”   

I invited him.  He came the next Sunday.  Now he and Andrew both attend but his father is a wise man.  Dad has several assigned tasks and he does them skillfully.  But he is careful to give his son a wide berth.  They don’t often meet during the program.  Andrew rides the bus.  His father comes later in his car.  Andrew sits in the front and Dad is far in the back.  Dad operates the elevator while Andrew walks up and down the stairs.  Dad sits in the front hallway monitoring the activities of the members; but Andrew attends his Bible study class in the back of the building.

It is almost like a graceful ballet this thoughtful father performs out of respect for the privacy of his son.  I’m not sure that Andrew will ever appreciate the efforts of his father.  For his dad delicately endeavors to maintain the dignity any father would give to his adult son.  I’ve seen this often from the parents of our members, struggling to oversee their children’s activities while still giving them space to grow and develop as adults.

The parents of children who have disabilities are a marvelous breed.  They share so much of their lives with their children and yet work hard to help them maintain dignified individuality.  Watching this father and son work and play together and apart, I’m reminded of what James wrote,

My brothers and sister, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.  Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do.  Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need (James 1:2-4).

What are some of the ways you have seen God work in simple ways through your members and their parents?  Are you a parent?  What are some of the ways to endeavor to maintain your adult child’s dignity?

Why Do We Pray?

Acts 12:12

Central Theme:  It is important to know why we pray.

 

Introduction

       1.     Have a member read the scripture Acts 12:12

       2.     Say, “Let us pray.”  Then wait for a very long time.

       3.     When people begin to stir or look around, say, “Why do we pray?”

       4.     Have you ever thought about that?  Let’s look at that question for a moment.

 

       I.     Quickly tell the story of Peter in prison and the church in prayer.

              A. Why were they praying?

              B. Why do we pray?

                   1.  Everything we do begins and ends with prayer.

                   2.  Is it part of the ceremony?  the Pagentry?  Or form of the      church?

 

           II.     We pray for only one reason:

                   A. God answers prayer.

              B. When we pray and we are Christians, God listens to us.

              C. I don’t think Peter thought God would answer his prayer…but He did.

              D. I don’t think the church thought God would answer their prayer…but he did. 

 

     III.     Why do we pray.

 

              A. We pray to tell Jesus we love him.

              B. We pray to ask God for things.

              C. We pray to thank God for his blessings.

              D. We pray to confess our sins.

              E.  We pray to vent.  We can tell God things we can’t tell others.

 

Conclusion–Those things may all be true but mostly we pray because God is listening and He always answers prayer.  Maybe not in the way we would like.  But he loves us and gives us His best when we pray.

Any kind of recognition is hard for some folks

Any kind of recognition is hard for some folks

My husband, Frank, had an important birthday yesterday.  A few days before the actual day, we had a some friends over and gave him a birthday party.  He was surprised and honored that so many people would come to celebrate his day.  He was grateful for all the effort put into making this birthday a special time.

My dilemma with birthdays is the people who abhor any kind of recognition.  Birthdays and anniversaries are painful events for them.  Yet, on the other hand, it’s important that we recognize those who work among us.  My wonderful Melbourne supervisor, JoAnne, will have a birthday in a couple of days.  The problem is that she needs and wants nothing.  Her greatest desire is to do her job without any kind of fanfare or show.  Usually, she is able to accomplish that easily.  There is a big problem with the JoAnne’s of the world.  It is that the rest of us are so indebted to them that we have a legitimate need to thank them in a tangible way.

Therefore, next Saturday at our Vero Special Gathering where she is a volunteer and then again at our Melbourne Special Gathering on Sunday where she is a paid staff, we will have a small celebration with a card and a cake.  She will be angry and unhappy about the attention.  In reality, understanding her level of discomfort, I have to admit that we are going to be doing this for our members in both programs, not for JoAnne. 

Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We work with people who are developmentally delayed.  While we do classic ministry, evangelism and discipleship, our members love to celebrate birthdays.  We are greatly endebted to many people who work and volunteer with us.  Seldom do we get to say a hardy, “Thank you.”  JoAnne is a small sampling of the professional community that labors to make our lives possible.  While I know that some of the people working with our members in a dozen different capacities may not be the cream of the batch.  However, most of them give and give and then give some more.

Who are the people who give more than you could ever repay?  What are some of the ways you have found to repay them?

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