December 29, 2020

From The Source, January 17, 2012

Dear friends,

About this time nine years ago, on a night when the temperature was in the low teens, our son Daniel suffered a heart attack and subsequently underwent a triple heart bypass. The cause, we were told, was probably long-term hypertension due to an undiagnosed blockage in his renal artery. In March of the previous year, his kidney function ceased and he went on dialysis three times a week. We were hopeful that soon he would be the recipient of a transplanted kidney. It had been a hard journey for our family. Daniel faced it with a sense of determination and hope, plus a sort of emergency room sense of humor. When I told him that my 2012 resolution was that I not spend any all-nighters at Grady Hospital wondering if he would survive the night, Daniel countered, “Dad, not to worry. I’m an Emory patient now. You can worry at Emory Hospital Midtown.” Joy.

Well, yes, joy is what I said. Joy is so much better than just happiness. There is a tinge of the divine in feeling joy. Buying a new sweater can make me happy. Driving my truck makes me happy. Listening to a Paul Thorn song makes me happy. Joy has something to do with my relationship to God; it’s about being connected to something larger than me, something so full of goodness and creativity and generativity that I can’t help but feel it. I joyfully anticipated seeing our first born receive a kidney and get on with a life that is full of potential and love. I joyfully anticipated the birth of our first grandchild and prayed daily for our daughter, Jessica’s and Baby Sam Ammons’ health and well-being. When I saw our youngest child, Rachel, working with the children at Oak Grove UMC school and now on the administrative team there where she is employed, I wonder if God is calling to her through the laughter and warm embraces of children and the trust of the people of that congregation. She has that sort of Earth Mother quality with kids and that fills her with joy and so lights up my day. I am full of joy and thanksgiving for Karen, another gift from God, and the only woman on earth willing to be married to me for forty + years.

I am finding that even in a difficult year I am the beneficiary of joy in serving the Embry Hills UMC congregation again.


Now, it will soon be nine years since Daniel's heart attack. We are two retirements, five grandchildren, two General Conference elections, a transplanted kidney, and a pandemic later. And we're still dancin’. And Jesus is still Lord of the Dance. Whether it is the dance of life or the dance of death, there is joy in dancing together. “Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance,” said he, “And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be, And I'll lead you all in the Dance,” said he.

I love serving with Susan and her wonder-working staff. I love nurturing (and being nurtured by) old relationships from my first time as pastor here; and building relationships with newer members that I don’t know so well. I love our life together.

Still dancin’. And Jesus is still leading. Joy to the world!



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Embry Hills United Methodist Church

3304 Henderson Mill Road, Atlanta, GA 30341

(770) 938-0661