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(704) 857-5034,
750 Mount Moriah Church Road,
China Grove, NC  28023
Pastor's Page



Dear friends in Christ,

Rejoice! Christ is Risen!
What a glorious Easter celebration we had. It was very special to celebrate a baptism and receive new members as part of the service. (Through the centuries Easter has traditionally been a time for Baptism in the life of the Church.) Mike and all four choirs did a wonderful job of glorifying our risen Lord and leading our worship. Thanks to Amie Goodman and all those who helped (some on short notice) with the Easter sunrise drama. A special thanks also goes to the Lutheran Men for providing us another great Easter breakfast. As we continue our celebration of the Easter season in the coming weeks I hope you will continue to experience the joy of the resurrection in our worship together.
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I was reading through some notes recently and came across a short paragraph I copied several years ago. It is by Perry Buffington, licensed psychologist, in a 1999 column for Universal Press Syndicate entitled Forgive or Forget. He is seeking to explain Why Failure Lingers. 
Failures take on a life of their own because the brain remembers incomplete tasks or failures longer than any success or completed activity. It's technically referred to as the Zeigarnik effect. When a project or a thought is completed, the brain places it in a special memory. The brain no longer gives the project priority or active working status, and bits and pieces of the achieved situation begin to decay. 

But failures have no closure. The brain continues to spin the memory, trying to come up with ways to fix the mess and move it from active to inactive status.

Perhaps that helps explain why it is so hard to put the past behind us and move on. Sometimes we may continue to put ourselves in the same situation in hopes of changing the outcome and solving the problem. It also seems to be very much related to the difficulty in breaking habits, especially if we tried once and failed. (Whether or not it may also help explain the addiction cycle I don't know.)

It also raises the interesting question as to whether or not a similar mental process is at work when we succeed. If so, it may make it hard to come up with a different solution to a problem or response to a situation. One wonders if a similar process may also be at work in groups or organizations. Maybe that is why the temptation is always there to say or think we've never done it that way before, or, we've always done it this way, or, we tried that once and it didn't work. History has many examples of both types of experiences. 

A couple of dramatic events in English history come to mind, the Battle of Agincourt and the fight with the Spanish Armada. In both cases a smaller British force overcame great odds to defeat a powerful foe. In both cases, the French at Agincourt and the Spanish at sea, their opponents used the best traditional tactics but were defeated by new approaches. 

Another example also comes to mind. We watched the movie End of the Spear this weekend. It begins with an incident from the life of a family in the Waodani tribe of Ecuador. This tribe was a very violent people, half or more never reached adulthood because they were killed by other Waodani. A Christian missionary group decided to try to reach them and teach them about Jesus. They were driven by a desire to save the people from killing each other but partially because their violence was leading to plans by the government to send in soldiers. The basis for the movie is an incident in which five missionaries were slaughtered because someone lied about them and they refused to fight back. It continues with the efforts of their surviving families to reach the tribe. The movie offers a poignant story of hope, redemption, and the power of Christ to change even long standing behaviors. 

As the Church looks to a changing world it is faced with many challenges to reach out with the good news of Jesus. It is challenged to find new ways to tell the story and touch the lives of people. As a congregation we face the same challenges. The world is not as it was when we grew up and it won't go back in time. In some ways it is better and in some worse. But the dramatic changes mean the old ways of presenting the story do not always reach people. Can we think in new ways; can we focus not on failures of the past but on possibilities for the future; can we look clearly at opportunities and reflect on their potential rather than why they didn't work in the past; do we see the desperate need of the world around us for Jesus? The answer to those questions will determine our future.

In Christ's joy, hope, and service,
Pastor Joseph