Week of July 31, 2013

Todd JonesBrothers and Sisters,

The Franciscan Priest and author Brennan Manning, who passed away this past April, known best for his small book the Ragamuffin Gospel (2005). In it he helps capture the relentless grace and love of Jesus. He writes, “We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” This sense of seeing God in “every moment” is how he defined discipleship and faithfulness. This same awe towards the love of Jesus is what drives the work of planting a church. It is a call to see in every “moment that we are standing on holy ground.” It moves into every corner of our lives, overflows beyond the walls of the church, and extends beyond any set time we may give it.

Recently, my family, in one of our more rare and bold moments, decided to eat out. All five of us, myself, my brave wife and our three children (all under the age of 6) went out for what was meant to be a pleasant meal…in public. Suddenly, but not unsurprisingly, I was called upon to make the emergency dash to the restroom. While scrambling out of the booth and untangling my foot from the diaper bag, I noticed my child hopping up and down on the floor with no shoes. (While we are known to have forgotten shoes at times leaving our house, I was certain she had shoes on when we walked into the restaurant.) In frustration and a bit of confusion, all I could mutter was a question, “Where do you think you are?” Yes, I know, it was a poor parenting moment in which I had hoped to point out that we were not at home but in a public restaurant. We expect our kid at his or her very best in front of others.

While I am not going to argue that it’s time to lower our expectation of our children’s behavior in public. I am suggesting that our own sense of faithfulness in every moment is not to fade or change depending upon place. As we hope to plant a church in and amongst a community, every moment is an opportunity to model Christ, to make the gospel known, and connect to those who have not known the love of the one who loved them first.

In January 2012, I was installed as your Associate Pastor of New Church Development. This call was another step in a long line of prayers to make Christ known in Hendersonville. It was through the work of your New Church Development Committee that held to a vision of the gospel being presented in new and exciting ways in a growing community. The step of faith by First Presbyterian Church of Nashville is one that has not gone unnoticed. Since we have made this commitment, other congregations have reached out to us to learn what God is doing out of our faithfulness to start a church. By no means have we reached the end, but we can celebrate what God has already done and continues to do in the lives of many in Hendersonville. It is truly the fulfillment of Christ’s command to extend the gospel and make disciples.

I look forward to sharing with you the many stories of God’s presence in our journey and I pray that you will be strengthened to know God is using First Presbyterian Church of Nashville in a mighty way.

Grace and Peace

Keith Gunter

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