The Challenge is to be Present for "Both-And"

These last several months have been filled with exciting and hopeful events at Immanuel. During August, September, and October, our sanctuary became a place where couples entered into the sacred relationship of marriage. Faith and hope, joy and love were present as vows were spoken, rings exchanged, unity candles lighted (and in one case refused to be lighted), and declarations of marriage intoned. Families and friends came together to celebrate the gift of marriage, and the love these couples had discovered in one another. These were high moments to celebrate.

During the summer months, the Personnel Committee was engaged in a very deliberate process to call an Associate Minister. Deliberately and prayerfully the members of the committee sought a gift of discernment through the Spirit that would lead them to the candidate the very same Spirit was preparing to serve with us at Immanuel. This process was completed in October when the church called the Reverend Brittany Riddle to serve Christ and the Church Called Immanuel as an Associate Minister. Thanks be to God, Brittany felt led by the Spirit to accept our call. We anticipate her arrival on the Second Sunday of Advent.

Last Saturday, we hosted our Fall Family Funfest. It was a chilly afternoon to say the least, but we had a great time. We welcomed members and guests of our church family, Immanuel Preschool families, and families of Friendship International students. There were games and inflatables, treats and candy, painted faces and costumes. We ate bowls of hot chili and more than 175 hotdogs as we warmed ourselves by consuming gallons of hot cider. Fun filled the air. On our Facebook page, you may check out a short video made by one of our guests. At one time on Saturday afternoon, approximately 80% of the folks at the Funfest were guests we had invited. One of the goals of the Funfest was to share with others the friendship and sense of community we experience here at Immanuel.

On Saturday, we will host our 23rd Annual Christmas Bazaar. Preparations have been going on all year long as the many talented and creative people of Immanuel were making items to be sold. The transformation of the gym and fellowship hall began on Monday morning with folks moving boxes, setting up curtains, hanging greenery, and placing tables. By Monday afternoon, volunteers were busy working on the displays of items to be offered on Saturday. On Thursday and Friday, the tables will be decorated with a festive flair as our bakers bring in cakes, cookies, and candies to be wrapped up beautifully by another group of “bazaar” volunteers. Folks will be working in the gym and fellowship hall right up to 5 o’clock on Friday. You cannot imagine how many people will be working on Saturday preparing the luncheon, serving the luncheon, washing dishes, serving as cashiers, assisting shoppers, carrying merchandise to cars, welcoming guests, and finally, putting things back together when it is all over. Members of Immanuel will be welcoming their guests around tables at the luncheon. For the first time, all the tickets for both sessions of the luncheon are sold out! And the best part—all the funds raised will go to sustain and enhance the initiatives we take as a family of faith to reach out beyond ourselves to our brothers and sisters with help, healing, and hope.

There have been high moments throughout this fall. Yet, it is the way of life that darker and troubling moments of life also come to us at the very same time. Folks have faced disappointment as plans didn’t work out and opportunities evaporated. Death has blindsided us and filled our hearts with grief. Suffering has pursued our friends relentlessly. There have been tumbles that resulted in abrasions and broken bones. Friends have waited for doctors to determine courses of intervention that now require procedures, therapies, and surgeries. On Sunday, we will pause to remember those who left us this past year as we observe All Saints Day. This is life, too!

Often, we view life and the living of our days in deep contrasts—good or bad, joy or sorrow, hope or despair, strong or weak, wealthy or poor, powerful or powerless. Yet, when we live each day, we realize that on any given day we may experience each of these contrasts in a twenty-four-hour period. Sorrow is accompanied by laughter. One minute we face a challenging situation with strength, and then later in the day, we feel weak and helpless. In the morning, we may soar with hope into a new day, but by evening we have fallen into depression and despair. As we experience life, we discover that we are both strong and weak, both wealthy and poor, both powerful and powerless. The days we live are both good and bad, both joyful and sorrowful, both hopeful and depressing. Like the wind we never know exactly how we will experience life at any given moment—a comforting breeze or a destructive wind shear.

Yes, as we live, on any given day, for ourselves and for others we must—weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Weeping and rejoicing come to us all many times in a given day. Thanks be to God we have each other and the wisdom of our collective experience of life as “both—and.” The challenge is to be present in each moment.


Jamie Broome

Jamie Broome began serving Immanuel in 1993. He previously served First Baptist Church in Midway, Kentucky for ten years. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Carson Newman University, where he met his wife, Rita, and his Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where he also did a Th.M. and doctoral work in church history. He is a native of South Carolina, and the Broomes have two sons, Chip and Rusty.