June 22nd, 2021 by Erica Stephenson
Rhythms. Our recent Sunday morning messages have been centered in how the good news of Jesus is meant to be shared rhythms of friendship and blessing. In “routine exchanges between friends and neighbors.”
Jesus was the best at doing this. He started with prayer. He intentionally listened and people were heard, known, and loved. He was always up for a good dinner party with friends and neighbors. He laid down his crown and put on an apron day in and day out while he walked this planet. And he was the best at sharing good news – whether tangibly or in word.
June 15th, 2021 by Barb Buffington
Carl and I were at the Orlando Airport ready to board our plane for our adventure to the Grand Canyon. It was bustling, people everywhere all around, standing, some sitting on the floor and all eager to get going!
There was a dad, 2 moms and 2 toddlers next to us, and it was quite a scene! The adults were all glued to their phones, while the children were running around out of control, trying to open the emergency doors at our gate, climbing into the baggage carts, and screaming – parents didn’t seem to notice or care. Lucky the kids were still around when it was time to board!
Then, the announcement came…Flight to Chicago is delayed due to weather. UGH! Three hours later we took off, and I thought: 1. Please may I NOT be sitting by this family on the plane, and, 2. If this is a preview of how our trip is going to go, perhaps we should go home now!
Well, glad we kept on going! We had a great trip to the Grand Canyon via Chicago, then on to Amtrak, and our destination was the Grand Canyon – 32 hours on the train! Along with stunning scenery, we met some interesting folk, who each gave us a gift in sharing a story; allowing us a glimpse of God at work in His children. Here are just a few of the stories we heard last week…
May 26th, 2021 by Sara Buffington
I am a nervous talker.
If there is an uncomfortable moment, a dramatic pause, a conversational lull, you can count on me to fill in the gap with chatter.
Once I was given a massage gift card by a relative. During the massage, I was so uncomfortable being touched by a stranger that I talked through the whole experience. 60 minutes of my incessant talking.
It was awkward, not relaxing.
For me, silence is a hostile stranger, not a friend.
So these words slap me on the hand:
"Saying nothing sometimes says the most." -Emily Dickinson
"A fool is known by his speech and a wise man by his silence." -Pythagoras
"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly-timed pause." - Mark Twain
If I want to love my neighbor by listening to them, I have to let silence do its work.
May 11th, 2021 by Lee Grady
In early 2020, two months before I ever heard the word "coronavirus," I stopped at a convenience store near my house in LaGrange, Georgia, to fill up my gas tank. When I went inside to grab a few items, I noticed the clerk had a thick Indian accent. "What part of India are you from?" I asked.
The man seemed surprised that I knew his ethnicity. He asked: "You know India?"
May 3rd, 2021 by Sara Buffington
What do you associate with summer? Here in Florida, we get to do certain summer activities year round, like go to the beach or barbecue.
I do go to the beach year round, but I only go in the water in the summer! I hate cold water.
One of my favorite things about the summer: the fruit. When the watermelons go deep, deep on sale, my heart skips a beat. It is my favorite fruit by far. When I was pregnant with my third child, I cut up an entire watermelon, propped the bowl up on my swollen belly, and ate the entire thing while I watched So You Think You Can Dance.
Ah, summer memories…
This year New Covenant has a new way to launch into summer. It involves looking up and looking out.
April 28th, 2021 by Sara Buffington
Did you grow up on Sesame Street like I did? Then perhaps you too know the song:
Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
Say, who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day
It’s an outdated song because we don’t meet the people in our neighborhood each day.
At least I don’t.
I live in Winter Springs Village. It has green spaces, a community pool and mailbox area, and front porches on every house. My family has the smaller sized home—a bungalow—and our houses sits on a zero lot line. That means I can almost reach out and touch my neighbor’s house.
And I still don’t know my neighbors.
We live in an age of looking down at our phones, electric garage door openers, and minding our own business. Gone is the neighborhood economy (“May I borrow X?”) and the front porch leisure while kids play on the sidewalk. With the pandemic, talking to strangers is more than odd—it’s hazardous.
Is this a problem? Not for some, but it is for me.
Because God tells me to love my neighbor.
March 15th, 2021 by Sara Buffington
Let me tell you a story I am embarrassed to admit.
When I first moved to Central Florida, I was amazed by all the radio stations. Coming from rural Virginia where there were literally two stations (and even they went in and out), I was delighted to find so many options, including a Christian radio station.
One day soon after I moved here I was in line for the drive-up teller at the bank. I was blaring some Christian music. As I approached the teller, I turned the radio down. Way down.
I can sit here and tell you it was because I anticipated needing to hear the teller clearly.
But that wasn’t it.
March 10th, 2021 by Nathan Bryant
In order to draw near to Jesus, one has to know Jesus. At the very least, one must know where to look. Sometimes, we just don’t know where to look unless someone tells us.
My belief is that what the world always needs most is a clear picture of Jesus, locked into our hearts and locked into our minds. This is the only way we, as redeemed people, can continue to live out our redemption into a broken and unredeemed world.
But how do we get this picture of Jesus? How do we, 2000 years removed from the actual historical events of the Gospels, catch a glimpse of Him that is so captivating we cannot let it escape?
February 23rd, 2021 by Barb Buffington
When you think about hospitality, what comes to mind? Perhaps a fine hotel, or going to see a wonderful friend, or perhaps family, or maybe going to a friend’s house for dinner…
When I think about it, a word that comes to mind is belonging, and I want to share how I see these as intertwined, share a few stories, and hopefully spark something in you as we move forward from this COVID season.
This past year we have all experienced the loss of community, and we have realized the importance of connection and relationships. Where does this leave us as we move through 2021?
January 27th, 2021 by Sheryl Shaw
My grandparents owned a small service/gas station and motel in the Ozark mountains of Missouri. There was a small general store and their living quarters were a few rooms in the back.
There was a lovely, warm kitchen that you could see into from the general store and there was always something cooking, the aroma enveloping you as you came into the front door of the station.
There was a long counter with stools that twirled and that was where home cooked meals were served to weary travelers.