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Why I Serve by Ludmilla Teterina

Some of you know that, as a PK, I practically grew up in church. My father was one of several associate pastors of Central Baptist Church in Moscow, Russia which would have been FBC, Moscow. I do not remember a time when I did not go to church. As I grew up, serving became second nature. Wednesday night choir rehearsals. Saturday evening service. Sunday morning service. Sunday noon youth group activities. Sunday evening service. Special events. Youth trips. Holidays. Central Baptist Church was my home away from home, all four stories of it. Running through the hallways and sanctuary, picking up trash accidentally dropped by someone else, seeing people I knew and loved, feeling a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself or my family all while living under communism.

It was natural for me to find places to serve when I came to the States. When I came to Second, I knew I had found a home away from home again. Twenty years later, I have lived in two states, three cities, and had done several things personally and professionally. Some of them I am proud of, and some – not so much. But one of the things I am most proud of is being a part of Second once again. I find opportunities to serve through music ministry, Stephen Ministry, the Safety and Security team and many, many other ways. This is my church. I belong to it and it belongs to me. When I pick up a dirty napkin from the floor or clean a smudge off a table in the Welcome Center, I am caring for something that I feel shared ownership. This year I also chair the Leadership Development Committee. This is not a kind of job that many people typically line up for. Quiet, obscure – what do people do on all those committees anyway? I have been thinking a lot about why I serve and what makes me take time on Sundays and evenings when others might enjoy a walk, a good book, or an evening with friends. Yet I love this quiet, inglorious, behind the scenes service, because I believe, no I know, it makes a difference. I serve because I belong to Second. Because this is my church. Because it is the right thing to do. Because I help make connections between people’s different skills and passions and the needs of the Second community and beyond. Because I believe it helps change lives and make a difference around the world.

Second is a unique church in a sense that anybody – yes, ANYBODY! – can find a place to serve. What are your interests and passions? Jason Edwards does not make Second – even though his sermons pierce our souls and inspire our actions. Connie McNeill does not make Second – even though she skillfully orchestrated daily engagement and makes the organization run like a well-oiled machine. Chip Handrich and music ministry do not make Second – even though special anthems and events often bring tears to our eyes as we take in a particularly beautiful piece. No, people make Second. You and I make Second what Second is – a vibrant, living, breathing, organism that welcomes tears and smiles, hard work and celebrations. Whatever your passions are – there is a place for you to serve, to make this community of faith even better, to make a difference. This is your church. Own it. Love it. Take care of it. Serve! You will know exactly what I am talking about and more!

at Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Jesus Makes Stone Soup by Carroll Makemson

“Jesus Makes Stone Soup” How is that for a headline? A friend once said that she sees these outlandish headlines/subjects in her email or on Facebook, but when she clicks she can’t find any real information. Well, stick with me! There is a valid connection between Jesus and stone soup.

First, you may need a refresher on the folktale Stone Soup, an old story from the French, Chinese, and Norwegian traditions, where three strangers arrive in a village hungry and tired with no food or lodging. After telling the villagers to boil three stones in a big pot of water, they continue convincing the people to add seasoning, vegetables, and meat one by one until they have a boiling pot of robust vegetable soup. In the end, the strangers not only enjoy sharing this soup with their new friends, but also lodging in their homes.

Earlier this month the children of Second Baptist Church met after the11:00 worship to hear this story, eat pizza, and make “stone soup.” Actually, their soup didn’t start with stones, but with hamburger. And, by the time the children added their gifts of broth and vegetables, they, too, had created a robust pot of vegetable soup. This soup was not to be consumed by them, but to be carried lovingly along with rolls they rolled, cookies they decorated, and hand-made cards to the church’s "Seldom Seen" members, those who worship or fellowship with us when they can, but whose appearances are “seldom seen” for one reason or another.

Now, for the Jesus part! These wise children shared that they saw “Jesus thinking” in this story because Jesus told us to welcome strangers. Yes, the story welcomes the three strangers, but these children and their parents welcomed our "Seldom Seen" members into their hearts. They lovingly delivered their packages to people they didn’t know, near strangers.  One fourth grader had such a good visit with Harvey Seeley, whom she had never met before, that she asked her parents if she could stay in touch with Mr. Seeley. 

The children quickly connected feeding the hungry strangers in the folktale to Jesus feeding the four thousand from a small basket of fish and loaves. (Mt. 15:32-29)  As the children carefully dumped their can of vegetables and can of broth into the boiling pot, their combined generosity created a very large pot of vegetable soup. They also fed a multitude, a bit smaller than Jesus, providing delicious soup for these" Seldom Seen" members while bathing their spirits with the joy that only children’s smiles and voices can bring. 

So, “Jesus Makes Stone Soup” was basically a hook to make you and the children think about the near miraculous results that happen when we think, give, and act as Jesus taught us welcoming strangers and feeding the hungry. When a bright-eyed, smiling kindergartner declared that this was “the best party ever” the adults smiled knowing that God was smiling, too!


Watch a short video of the mission project here:


at Monday, March 18, 2019
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Lent Mis-spent by Kristin Wooldridge

For a number of years, more than I would like to admit, I thought the only way to pay honor during Lent was a deprivation of something physical. Giving up bread. Giving up chocolate. Giving up negativity. All three are definitely challenging, but the problem is that I was missing the point. I never went deeper than tracking the sacrifice. And let's face it, 40 days of no bread or no chocolate sure doesn't compare to the sacrifice of God's only son. Yep—I went there. Nothing I do will ever be at that ultimate level. 

I think the shift for me happened with age and definitely learning how to parent. The gravity of what sacrifice could look like was made on my heart when I had a child of my own and imaged the heartache of God watching Jesus live and die on Earth. So, around then I stopped chasing myself on one thing to give up, and I started drawing deeper meaning on what sacrifice and Lent mean. For me, it has evolved over time, which is great since I know that I am a work in process. I spend more time during Lent looking for what the active God, who is at work in our deep selves is doing. Even if we can't see it or hear God's voice, it is there. The active pursuit of faith, hope and love are just that... ACTIVE. It surrounds us and everyone around us. 

I personally choose to draw closer during Lent to observe life with a heart of gratefulness when I see acts of faith, love, and hope. So, no more guilt about messing up continuously during a Lent sacrifice. God calls me to lean into listening, learning and loving. Lent has become a deeper time for me with this change of heart and reflection. 

We are all uniquely different. So if giving up something works for you... GREAT. This isn't a shame session to lessen different methods of getting closer to God. It is just what Lent has become for me. Forty days of drawing closer in my own way. What does it look like for you?


at Friday, March 15, 2019
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