Dear Friends,

Two churches that I previously served are celebrating their centennial this year: Normal Heights United Methodist Church in San Diego and the First U.M.C. of San Gabriel. The first celebration was at Normal Heights on November 3, and Marlou and I attended their luncheon.

The fellowship hall was full with around 120 plus people. In addition to the meal choice of prime rib or salmon, the program included acknowledgments, a historical/pictorial slideshow, and singing by a Samoan choir.

Marlou and I were seated at the table where the present pastor and his wife were, along with our Bishop Minerva Carcaño, and another colleague and her mother.

Bishop Carcaño shared this story which had occurred during the morning worship service. As the processional folks lined up, the bishop was in her robe, armed with her crozier (bishop’s staff). Among the group were a couple of kids who were acolytes. One kid asked the bishop, “What is that stick that you have.” “It’s like a shepherd’s staff for God’s people,” Bishop Carcaño replied. Then the girl asked our bishop, “Do you know Jesus?” “Yes I do,” she answered. The child had a follow up, “Are you sure?” “Yes, I’m sure,” she replied. “But do you REALLY know Jesus?” The bishop reassured her. We were all in stitches, bent over laughing. If the child only knew.

If we could boil down our message to the community, we would ask the question, “Do you know Jesus?” And if they didn’t, invite them to get to know him. For Normal Heights U.M.C., their future is in good hands if their children certainly understand this mission.

As we share the promise of life with Christ and pass the faith to the next generation, we ask the question to people, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ And we ask ourselves, ‘Do our programs invite such explorations?’ As we decide on our pledge for 2014, know that we are about sharing the good news of Jesus and inviting people into relationship with our Lord and with us.

— Pastor Bob