It has been weeks since I wrote my last blog and the things on my mind and heart today will take a two or three posts. However, my thoughts on this Lord’s Day afternoon are focused on several specific things:
1. TODAY, the last Sunday of the year. Generally, this Sunday, about everywhere, is an “off-Sunday.” People are away, traveling with family. Some are just plain sick, mostly because of exhaustion in the name of family celebrations. Those that do attend worship are often bogged down by a a carbohydrate hangover. So often, leaders forget things that normally they wouldn’t think of forgetting. Many times over the past fifty years, I walk in and leftovers from the Christmas Eve service are still on the platform. Oh, the room has been cleaned, but “stuff” is out of place. I don’t criticize because I totally understand everyone is eager to leave the traditional candlelight communion services to go home to be with family; it is just part of church life. As the singer, I just expect on the last morning to do a little “house cleaning” before the first worship service and I often expect to lead a weary crowd of worshipers.
Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced many wonderful “last Sundays of the year.” These services can be very intimate and family oriented, HOWEVER, this year was “markably” different. There were no chairs to rearrange, no manger to move or mics to reconnect; the room was in order. The instrumental, vocal, and media lead team came in on time and eager to lead worship. There was great energy, even at the 8:30 service, and still greater energy at 11:00. People were happy and anxious to gather in praise. When it came time for the choir to gather for the 11:00 service, the singers were there. Soloists and choir sang so very well. The crowd sang with enthusiasm and the young guest speaker powerfully preached the mantra of my life, “Salvation is by grace through Christ Jesus,” and God added to the Body.
TODAY HAS BEEN A VERY GOOD “LAST SUNDAY.”
2. TODAY, I looked back on 2014. It began with my wife, Dorothy, recovering from major surgery, me facing retirement and leaving a staff and church family we served for thirteen years and loved from the depths of our hearts, retiring also from fifty years as a “music man,” and getting hit with a major medical issue that forced me to miss the first morning worship service due to health in fifty years; pretty dramatic stuff and that was just the first four months.
YET, this year has brought overwhelming blessings. During those first four months, even with physical pain, God allowed me to lead the marvelous FBC Statesboro Celebration Choir, Orchestra, and church family. We experienced the best retirement celebration anyone could image with our beloved church family as well as children, grandchildren, and friends from all over. We’ve heard from friends and partners in ministry from literally all over the world. Dorothy and I were humbled and overwhelmed.
This year has also brought physical recovery and though we aren’t quite at full speed, we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
This year took us also from Southeast Georgia to North Georgia at the foot of Mt. Yonah and the Blue Ridge Mountains. To be totally honest, I didn’t want to move “North,” I had always planned to move back to the coast, yet God had another plan. (OK, it is a tough admission, but I am enjoying living in the mountains, though we go to the coast every chance we get.) We now live closer to family and God has opened new doors of ministry. I assumed that in my retirement I would stay busy, but I didn’t expect Him to lead me to a ministry like I enjoy at Level Grove in Cornelia. I have talked about LG in previous blogs, but as “temporary part-time” minister of music, I am having a blast. Dorothy and I love the church family and the ministry God has given us. It is so much fun serving with a young staff with great passion for ministry. They don’t know “you can’t do things….”
This year we have spent more time with our children and grandchildren than we have in many years and if for no other reason all the tough and great events of the past year have been totally worth it.
This year brought our great grandson, William Carl Coen, IV and this week, our son-in-law’s son and wife will have their second daughter, giving us two wonderful great granddaughters as well.
TODAY HAS BEEN A VERY GOOD “LAST SUNDAY.”
3. TODAY, I thought about 2015, “what in the world is it going to bring?” Assuming the Lord tarries, I will serve as Minister of Music at Level Grove for the next twelve months. I am mapping out the master plan of ministry this week. Dorothy and I will celebrate our forty-nineth wedding anniversary in April. There will be solo concerts, concerts with the Sons of Jubal, workshops, and our eighth trip to Israel, this time with the Sons of Jubal in October.
Obviously, I don’t know what all will transpire in 2015, but I am planning like I’ll live to be 150, but seeking to live as if Christ will call me home tomorrow. Retirement? Well, though it seems I am am as busy, or more so, than I was when I was “full-time,” this time in life offers far more flexibility. Still, I don’t believe God “un-calls.” He called me, He set a path for me, when I was a child. I knew it then and I know it now. I have been blessed with a marvelous wife, “help-mate,” partner and we are celebrating our past, but always anticipating the next opportunity. We serve a risen, living Savior.
YEP, TODAY HAS BEEN A VERY GOOD “LAST SUNDAY.”