Beaufort County friends – It is always the season to SWIM!

Published 11:08 am Thursday, August 25, 2022

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By JAY Martin

Church of the Good Shepard

Fellow residents of one of the sacred spaces of creation – namely Beaufort County NC – I have an invitation for you today.  Come on in, the water’s fine.

Lest you check out or dismiss the rest of this brief moment of sharing, let me tip you off by saying this has little to do with the Pamlico River or your neighbor’s pool!  This is also not a literary altar call to Baptism.

This Swimming Lesson instead is a four-part guide to life to the full.  This IS a pastor’s column and my best gift to you is to point you to the author of our faith and source of abundant life. Jesus does promise in John 10:10 to bring life abundant or ‘full’. This promise is in direct contrast to the warning in the first half of that verse that there is a thief that comes to ‘steal kill and destroy’.

So, let’s Dive in!

S is for serve.  This is a counter intuitive reality. We find greatest joy and meaning in laying down our lives – our time, talent and treasure to benefit others.  My experience in Washington bears out this truth.  When retirees flock to our shores many after two years of boating, resting, golfing find that full life is best found in reading to children, building habitat houses, delivering meals on wheels.  Serving does more for the server often times than the target of our care.

W is for worship. After two years of isolation at so many levels the time to gather for praise is now.  Worship at its core is not just sermons, songs and scripture reading though those three matter. Worship is giving ‘worth’ to something, someone outside of ourselves, which has captured our awe and reverence. If you are not a ‘believer’ in God or any other higher power being, sorry but you are still a worshipper. The object of your awe may be creation, or recreation but your time and resource choices reflect what you worship.

I is for intimate introspective investment in our inner spaces of discipleship and discernment.  As I write this, I’m also preparing a message for my church on seeking wisdom as did King Solomon who said to the Lord “I am only a child and don’t know how to carry out my duties” (I Kings 3:7) As we SWIM together our time in intimate meditation with God equips us for the gathering and growth time together. The root word of discipline is disciple or student and to be a ‘life long learner’ is vital whether 14 or 84.

M is for meet or gather. I miss the restaurant in downtown Washington called the “Meeting Place” but the new wave of wonderful culinary offerings all present elegant and tasty spots to share life across a table.  A favorite pastor of mine likes to remind his flock that we need to meet in ‘circles’ and not just in ‘rows’ or pews in a church. Finding and embracing circles of ‘life giving’ relationships takes courage and intentionality but in doing so we find support and places to overflow the graces that we have received.

SWIM – Serve, Worship, Introspection, Meet – swim with the Spirit and against the negative rip tides of this world and find yourself healthy and healed!

Jay Martin is the pastor of the Church of the Good Shepard in Washington