This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Jim Teague,
FPCE director of communications.

Dear friends –

Photo of Earth with moon's horizon in the foreground.

“Earthrise” by NASA/Bill Anders – Source, Public Domain, Link

Those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s had the privilege of witnessing the “Space Race,” watching as the USA and USSR battled to see which country would be the first to accomplish the next great achievement of space exploration.

In December of 1968, the Apollo 8 crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders became the first humans to reach the moon, orbiting our natural satellite 10 times before returning safely to Earth.  I remember being an awestruck 6-year-old, watching the crew’s Christmas Eve broadcast from their spacecraft, each reading from Genesis 1:1-10. I was mesmerized at seeing the amazing images of the “Earthrise” above the moon’s horizon.*

I don’t know if it was irony or part of a greater providence, but my little mind reached the conclusion that because we had reached space and failed to find heaven, God, angels, or pearly gates, I didn’t need to worry about those kinds of things anymore. My own personal  “scientific method” had done the math concluded 1 + 1 = 0.

I spent the next 9 years in a sort of spiritual limbo. My family read from the Bible each Christmas, and I continued to feel my heart grow full as I thought about Jesus and his death on the cross. But in my mind we had “proven” that heaven was a fallacy, allowing me to shift my attention to girls, sports, and girls. And good thing, since it was a cute, smart fellow freshman who first piqued my interest in the Bible and put me on the path towards giving my life to Jesus five years later.

This coming week (Monday, July 31 through Friday, August 4) we host Vacation Bible School here at First Pres. This year’s theme is Stellar, and we will spend the week seeking to “Shine a Light on Jesus’ Love.” We expect to have around 70 participants and a host (a heavenly host, maybe?) of volunteers and staff on standby to assist in making the week unforgettable.

At the core of the week’s experience is the truth that shining the Light of Christ into our lives and into the lives of others makes all the difference. By looking at the marvelous elements found in space (distant, stars, planets, moons, our own sun, and comets) we are brought to a place of worshiping God and understanding his love for each of us.

Maybe it’s because I never had the chance to attend VBS as a child that I get such a kick out of seeing it take place each year here at First Pres. Ours is not a fly-by-night operation. Each year involves a combination of advanced planning, prayerful consideration of various options, and being willing to pivot at the last moment when a new opportunity (or challenge) comes along.

This year, it looks like we might “inherit” some amazing decorations and props from an area church that is using the same Stellar VBS program this week. If all goes well, we will be able to benefit from their amazing creativity and resources by going there on Friday afternoon to take possession of their awesome goodies. Please pray the handoff works out as planned.

The entire upcoming week is pretty wild, by the way.

  • Sunday, we gather at 10 a.m. to worship in the parking lot, hoping to improve our visibility to the neighborhood while taking a trip down memory lane to when COVID forced us to spend the spring and summer of 2021 worship outdoors. This would be a terrific opportunity to invite friends or family to take part in person or observe online, by the way.
  • VBS is Monday through Friday, with an epic final celebration at the end of the morning of the last day.
  • And Sunday, August 6, is our annual vesper service and all-church picnic, beginning at 5 p.m. at Greenwood Beach.

Not to mention that our interim senior pastor, Rev. Tassie Green, will be on hand this Sunday to greet folks in attendance, and will be in the pulpit for her first time at the 10 a.m. August 6 worship and communion service.

The awe I felt as a six-year-old boy watching television signals being beamed from a spaceship orbiting the moon turned out to be nothing compared with what I have felt many multiple times while worshiping our amazing, creative, loving God. It is not my feelings, though, that make the truth of God’s goodness real, any more than astronauts reaching the moon’s orbit made its existence a reality.

God is good all the time. We are all just star voyagers – astronauts – rediscovering that truth day by day.

Glad to be on board with all of you!

Jim Teague

FPCE director of communications

* I was crushed when I found out in the years to come that my nearsighted vision disqualified me from becoming an astronaut. That restriction is no longer the case today, by the way.