Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Serving God at the Winter Shelter

Galatians 5:13

Serve one another humbly in love

Ray 2019This Sunday will end our week this winter – serving the homeless communities men – with the Winter Shelter program. I’m always impressed by those who participate in this ministry. Many stay up all night and then go to work the next day. I know this is hard – regardless of your age – because I have been doing it one night each year that I have had the privilege to serve First Church. If the men are calm and sleeping – the hardest part of spending the night is staying up all night and then going to work the next day. From Wednesday at 6 am till Thursday morning at 9 am – the posting of this devotional – I got 3.5 hours of bed time (less in sleep time). I will crash tonight or maybe take a nap this afternoon. I know the two men who stayed last night along with me are tired. One went to work this morning and the other will go to work in the afternoon. Some people work more evenings than one. I’m not sure how they do it. We could certainly use more help this year and each year. We have the shelter for the men through Sunday morning.

Aside from the lack of sleep – the amazing part of the week is getting to know the men who visit the shelter. I usually take the time to sit and eat several dinners with the men – talking with them and getting to know them. Several of the men have jobs. We talked about their work. Several of the men were new to the shelter program this year. Several of the men from years past have found shelter elsewhere. Continue reading

December 19, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 2

Psalm 47:1

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

christmas-2

During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

Rev. Ray, As I think on this, the first thing that comes to mind, is the giving spirit of First Church. My first thought is the Angel Tree, this provides children with something “under the tree” that might not have had anything to open Christmas morning. It also provides their parents with a sigh of relief that their children will not be disappointed in “Santa” not visiting their home. I am emotional typing this because I am blessed above and beyond what I deserve and I have always been able to provide a wonderful Christmas of presents, family, food and fun for my children. 

Second I think of the Food Drive. The boxes in the Narthex have been overflowing with food, so much so that Judy and Scott have been storing donations in the Choir room or the Narthex would appear to be a Super Market. Again the generosity of First Church overwhelms me!

I am also excited to participate in my first ever Advent Event. This is especially important as it is teaching our children to give rather then only receive this season, to remember those less fortunate. From wrapping Angel Tree gifts to making homeless blessing bags, gifts for home-bound members and Kairos Christmas artwork. Again how generous is our Church? 

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Our Neighbors

Matthew 5:43-45

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

112015 Ray McDonaldAt Christmas time – love is felt by many but not by all. I remember the little girl next door to us when we lived in Seat Pleasant – who didn’t seem to have anyone to love on her and how my dad would welcome her to play with us or eat a meal with us. My dad would even buy her some Christmas gifts as I remember. Dad showed love to others – his heart was as big as the whole outdoors.

Who will we show love to this Christmas? It is easy to love those who love us back. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 5:43–48 – 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Continue reading

December 18, 2015 Posted by | Advent Thought, Bring, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go and Do Likewise!

Luke 10:37

Go and do likewise.

82015 RayRecently a Sunday School class in our church took some members to Baltimore to feed the homeless. It was a great lesson in serving others. I’m so thankful for their teacher and the members of their class for undertaking such a mission minded activity for a Sunday morning.

This past year – when the unrest was happening in Baltimore – our church provided health kits and some of us took them up to a church in the community impacted by the riots and unrest. I was proud of our church and some community churches for joining together to take food – health kits – and money to those in need.

Each year our church hosts the homeless in our church – usually a week for the men and a week for the women – of our community. Last year we actually hosted four weeks – two weeks for the men and two weeks for the women – because of a shortage of churches. Continue reading

September 9, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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