CCC Blog

Special Note of Thanks

Thank you, choir, for the beautiful anthem given to me earlier and sung for me Sunday.  Thank you to those who planned and prepared lunch for us musicians and to all of you who blessed me with your kind words, hugs and love. 

Marilyn Ward


Central Christian Church would like to thank Property and Fellowship Committees, and Paul Gorden for purchasing a total of 22 new eight-foot resin banquet tables for use at Central. And, with a rebate check earned from the   purchase, three six-foot resin tables and a new DVD player for the church’s TV were purchased.

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“In the Last Five Years…”

A lot has happened in my life in the last five years.  Since January 2013, in my immediate family alone, we have laid to rest two grandparents; witnessed my mother experience a health setback; moved homes within Decatur and changed high schools for one of our children.  Five years ago, I was blissfully running and exercising without complications with two years of continual back pain still two years off in the future.  And yoga, currently a twice a week discipline, was         another two years off in the future beyond that.   In the last five years, we have sold one car and purchased another one.  I started wearing glasses and had knee surgery as well.  Five years ago, our daughter had not yet begun to play soccer or volleyball.  Our youngest son had not started playing the piano and cello.  And our oldest son was six inches shorter than I (and not six inches taller)!!

Perhaps the changes in each of your lives over that same time span mirrors those in my own.  There may be ups and downs in your past when you look back over the last half-decade; additions and subtractions; changes of all kinds.  If so, they also mirror the changes in our church.  In the last five years we have undergone a significant renovation to our Friendship Center and West Entrance.  We’ve remodeled the Flewelling Chapel. We changed the times of our traditional worship services and started a contemporary one.  In January 2013, I had been in my position less than one year and none of the following people – Tina, Ashely, Yvonne, David, Vernon, Andrew, Lora, and Melissa – were on staff yet.  In the last five years we have baptized over 25 people and dedicated over 12 infants and children.  Yet we have also laid to rest over 50 members and  witnessed a dozen more moving away to warmer climates.

I share this exercise with you for two reasons.  First, as we said in worship on Sunday (basing our message on Psalm 48), the love of God is steadfast amid all of the changes of life.  Even though the conditions of our lives may change over time, the ever-present love of God never will.

Moreover, did you know that it has been five years since we last had a pictorial directory of our church compiled?  A lot has changed in our church family since then, as we noted above, as has the technology of church pictorial directories.  One goal we have for 2018 is to create an updated one. 

To that end, Kevin Miller (of the Public Relations department), Mike Munos (congregational president) and myself are looking to put together a team of people willing to work on this project with us.  Bear in mind, those on the team will not do all the work on this pictorial directory.  There will likely be many    other volunteers we’ll bring in along the way for very specific roles.  But for the time being, we’d like to find out who’s interested.  Over the next two weeks we will be putting the team together.  If you are interested in serving in this regard, please feel free to: 1) call the church office (428-4336); or 2) email  ; or 3) email me directly ( ) and let us know of your interest.  We’d love to have you help us on this important project. 

Blessings – Michael

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“Opening the Door”

This past Sunday our theme in worship was hospitality and we focused on Hebrews 13:2 – “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  At the close of the sermon I told a  story from the Benedictine tradition about the need to open the door every time there’s a knock on the other side, for we never know when it might be Christ himself showing up for a visit. 

Throughout my ministry, people have always knocked on the door from time to time looking for assistance.  Usually they’re seeking financial assistance - help with a light bill, rent, gas, medicine but sometimes food as well.  Long ago I  copied Matthew 5:42 on a piece of paper - “give (something) to everyone who asks of you” – and kept it on my desk so that I would remember to make time for those knocks on the door and do my best to give “something” to them.  Sometimes that means directing them to MAX; or offering to pray with them.  And sometimes it is giving actual financial assistance. 

These drop-in visits are almost always an inconvenience.  I always have something I’m working on.  And the knocks on the door nearly always “disrupt” my schedule.  Even though I invite every single person who drops-in to join us for worship on Sunday, rarely in 20 years has this happened.  Moreover, some of the knocks on the door come from those who are somewhat regular. Persistently regular.  One woman comes to mind.  She came 5 or 6 times in one year. Sometimes the church I served gave her something, sometimes we didn’t.  But after a year of this happening, I sat down and I told her, “we can’t continue doing this.  Either you commit to becoming a member of the church and we can work with you on longer-term strategies – or we can’t help you in this way anymore.”  She said, “Yes, I understand.”  But she never came back.   

One day about 8 years ago, a man dropped in.  We sat in the office and he told me his situation.  He had a job lined up but wouldn’t get his first paycheck until after his rent was due.  He was trying to reconcile with his wife and children and having an apartment was an important part of this.  If he could just get $75, he could bridge the gap.  I talked with the landlord and verified the $75 deficit and decided to give him the “bridge grant” was looking for. 

A month later, he came back.  Of course I was in the middle of something and when I saw him I thought  “Oh no, not now.  I’m busy.  I just know he wants something else.  Didn’t I just tell him a month ago that $75 was all we had to offer at the time.  Why is he coming back?”  But I dragged myself up out of the chair and opened the door.  I was getting ready to offer my prepared speech about how we had just helped him and it was not our practice to give emergency grants more than once in a six-month period.  But before I could speak, he said,  “Pastor, I just wanted to come back and say thank you for the $75.  I was able to keep my apartment, I have a good job now, and my wife and kids have moved back in with me.”  Needless to say, I was surprised, but also inspired.  And thankful for the lesson he taught me about how the judgments we can make when there’s a knock at the door and how they are sometimes shattered when we answer it.

Blessings – Michael


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1_23 E-Votional

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  -  Hebrews 13:2

Our theme this week in worship is hospitality and we will focus on a story from Genesis 18 in which Abraham and Sarah show hospitality to “strangers” who turn out to be angels in disguise revealing a divine message of great importance to them.  The conclusion from this story, echoed in Hebrews 13:2, is clear: we never know exactly how, when, where and in whom God may show up and pay us a visit.  Being hospitable to others is a way of ensuring that we don’t miss that message.

At a regional youth event, probably 15 years ago by now, I sat with a group from our church during the opening worship in the hotel’s grand banquet room.  We were sitting on the far-left hand side of the audience, approximately half-way back.  A praise band performed, different speakers spoke words of introduction about the weekend’s theme, and we (in the audience) were standing up and sitting down quite a bit.  All throughout this time, I happened to notice a strange man.  He was dressed in what looked like “coveralls” – some sort of uni-garment – with a stocking cap on his head.  Even from way off, one could tell his clothes were old and dirty.  He would walk slowly throughout the banquet room, shuffling his feet, and sitting down every so often.  After a few minutes he’d get up, shuffle on a little more and sit down in another open seat.  Once he even shuffled over to an empty seat in the row in front of us, before continuing on.

When it came time for the keynote speaker to give the opening address, this man was shuffling his way near the stage.  I’m sure I was not the only one who was, by now, wondering who this guy was and why he was in the room.  But as the minister at the microphone completed her introduction and spoke the keynoter’s name, the man in the coveralls climbed the stairs, turned, took off his hat, unzipped and stepped out of his uni-garment and introduced himself as the featured guest.

Perhaps, as you were reading these words just now, you could see where this was leading.  But his point that night was clear.  While he admitted that no one treated him poorly or asked him to leave the banquet room, no one approached him, asked him his name, offered a chair to sit in, or showed him anything else that we might consider a gesture of kindness, mercy, compassion or hospitality.  It was, rather, as though he were invisible. 

As Christians, we live in the world and yet we are not of the world.  In the world, we are (sometimes rightfully) wary and skeptical of strangers.  Yet those cautionary instincts cannot prohibit us from our higher, not-of-the-world calling to show hospitality to strangers – not to withhold things like kindness from them.  For who knows?  We just might be welcoming into our lives a message from God that we most need to hear. 

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