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How to keep on living the good and beautiful lifeBy Jim Somerville.

During the Season of Lent, the members and friends of Richmond’s First Baptist Church studied a book called The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith. Some of them met in homes, some in Sunday school classes, some came to the Journey to the Cross services, and some did all of the above.  It was a powerful community-building exercise, and I think we all learned a great deal.

So, now what?

The original plan was this: that we would spend the Season of Lent learning about the Good and Beautiful Life, that we would spend the Season of Easter living the Good and Beautiful Life, and then spend the Season of Pentecost sharing the Good and Beautiful Life.

Learning, living, sharing.  Got it?

According to that plan we are now in the Great Fifty Days of the Easter season (April 5 through May 23), the season of living the life.  But how do we do that?  Or, rather, how do we keep on doing it?

Here’s one suggestion:

The Good and Beautiful Life is essentially a study of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.  James Bryan Smith’s premise is that in these chapters Jesus explains what life in God’s kingdom looks like and what it would take to live it.  The life of the kingdom is the good and beautiful life, Smith argues, and if we could learn to do what Jesus says we would know that.

So, try this.

In the remainder of this season, all the way up to May 24, the Day of Pentecost, try reading the Sermon on the Mount as a kind of daily devotion.  If you’re reading this on your computer, you can simply click HERE and go to a page that has the whole sermon waiting for you in the New Revised Standard Version.  Click that same link tomorrow and try reading it in a different version, the Message, or the NIV.  Maybe you could read a different version every day, just to keep it fresh.

My hope is this: that if you saturate yourself in that sermon, if you sink down into its message day after day, you will begin to live the life it describes.  You will trust God more.  You will hate others less.  You will pluck up the seed of sin before it can take root.  You will know that you are blessed.  You will be like the one who built his house on a rock.

Try it!  Live it!  And then get ready to share it.

A life like this will be too good and beautiful to keep to yourself.

 This post originally appeared in JimsBlog, the Pastor’s blog, on April 13, 2015.

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By Mary Hiteman, Minister of Weekday School.

Dr. Len Morrow helps the Weekday Preschool children use the mobile gardening cart.

When was the last time you played in the dirt and made mud pies? Let me introduce you to Mud Pie Annie, who does this delightfully in Mud Pie Annie-God’s Recipe for Doing Your Best by Sue Buchanan and Dana Shafer. Annie makes the most creative, non-edible treats with dirt and other ingredients. And she sings of her inspiration: “No matter what I do in life, I’ll do my very best. I’ll work at it with all my heart, and that’s how I’ll be blessed. Whether I make mud pies or great dishes for a queen, I’ll put my ‘ALL’ into it, for there is no in between. And as I work with all my might-as everyone knows-GOD sees what is in my heart, not the mud between my toes.”

Len Morrow (also known as Dr. Potato Head) and Jeff Dortch share Mud Pie Annie’s inspiration to do their best. Len attended a workshop for Master Gardeners in James City County last fall. He learned about plans for a mobile gardening cart that could be wheeled indoors and out, was at a height children could reach, and was self-contained with tool storage included. It seemed like a great idea for our First STEP Preschool-a partnership with FBC and ASK-Making Life Better for Children with Cancer. When Jeff found the plans inadequate, he created his own and built the cart. Len says of him: “He has the tools, the skills and my admiration.”

On March 11 six children and their teachers learned about soil from Dr. Potato Head and scattered seeds in three trays that fit perfectly in the top of the cart. A week later, lettuce and radish seeds sprouted, as well as garden peas. The children were delighted! They check on their garden each Friday with the goal of eating lettuce, radishes and peas before the school year ends on May 20. All of this gardening takes place in their classroom because of Dr. Potato Head and Jeff (who can think of an appropriate nick name for him?).

Mud Pie Annie’s favorite Bible verse fits everyone involved in this gardening project: “Work at everything you do with all your heart” (Colossians 3:23, NIrV).

For more information about First STEP Preschool, contact Mary Hiteman (Hiteman@FBCRichmond.org).

For more information about the mobile gardening cart, go to http://jccwmg.org/index.html and click on Healing Thru Gardening presentations.

Editor’s Note: see related gardening video

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By David Powers.

Putting God’s love in action sometimes means working inside the church building. That’s what the newly-organized “First Helpers” do.

Warren Pierce and Devon work to repair a hydraulic door closer belonging to one of the main sanctuary doors. Photo by Anthony M. Nesossis.

Last year, when a building maintenance team member left the staff, budget constraints dictated that the vacant position not be filled. But the need for building maintenance continues. So Church Administrator Billy Burford sent out a request for help. More than a dozen helpers responded, volunteering to take assignments from the “Job Jar” and help maintain the church facility.

As maintenance needs arise, work orders are placed in the Job Jar, located in the Park Avenue hallway near the church offices. Periodically, the Support Ministry sends out an email, listing all the jobs. Volunteers arrive on their own schedule, pick up a work order or two, and do the work.

Some of the recent jobs included repairing door hinges, replacing light bulbs, repairing leaks in restrooms, and sharpening/replacing pencils in the sanctuary pew-racks.

The First Helpers Job Jar can be found in the Park Avenue main hallway. Photo by David Powers.

If you’re interested, there’s room for you among the First Helpers. Billy said you don’t have to be a licensed electrician or plumber, “but if you are one, that’s OK.” He adds, “If you have the skills to repair stuff around the home, you qualify. If you have an hour a week or an hour a month, we can use your skills.”

For more information, contact Billy Burford or Bonnie Wilmoth.

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