Fifth Sunday is Family Sunday
Every once in a while we do something where people ask "Why did that happen?"
Particularly if you are just getting to know us, we want to break down any barriers as quickly as we can for helping guests find their place here at Randall Church.

About 4-5 times a year, there are 5 Sundays in a month. Because it doesn't happen all that often, I have to admit that it can sneak up on us and we can sometimes forget to talk about it. But what we like to say is that at Randall Church, Fifth Sunday is Family Sunday and here is why:

Practically speaking there is a certain ease of planning that comes with building our curriculum around a 48 week calendar. Our volunteers know which Sundays they will be serving, and our pastoral leadership knows when we will be highlighting children's and youth ministries in the main worship gathering. 

Knowing that detail means that we do our best to take it up a notch on the Family Sundays. We plan music that our young people can lead, and sermons that our young people can interact more easily with. We ask our children to help with greeting people on the way in, our youth to run the media equipment, and some combination of young people to lead us in worship in their own way, using their own God given skills and talents.

If I'm honest, its not always a "comfortable" Sunday for the adults as things tend to be a bit raw and unpolished; but its always a great Sunday for the Kingdom. This is the next generation of our church learning how to pray; learning how to connect; learning how to lead. And, as a church we prioritize discipleship, and mobilize leadership as two of our values.  This Family Sunday is a tangible example of just that.  

Come worship with us this Sunday. These kids are so precious… to us and to God. 
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

-Pastor Milo

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Although grief is a normal part of the human experience on this side of glory, it is never pleasant and it is never what you expected it to be. Today, I am feeling empathy for a dear family in our church going through the passing of their collective father, brother, uncle, teacher and friend. His eternal security is certain, he knew his Savior well, and spoke of his heavenly home often. But still, there has been a great loss here. What are we to do to comfort them? What are we supposed to say when we don't know what to say?

This may not be a perfect answer, but it's one I've been working through over the last decade or more. I've written about it before, and it has to do with celebrating the little things. 

1. A little grief lasts a long time
Grief has a way of sneaking up on a person when they least expect it. While this can take a person off-guard, most people see it as a blessing, because it means that we haven't forgotten about the person we love. The pain is real, but it reminds us once again of the depth of the relationship.

2. A little help makes a big difference
Let's face it. Very few of us are good about seeking help from others when we need it. But at some level all of us need a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on from time to time. It is important to remember that when interacting with your circle of relationships. Help someone today, and have an impact for many tomorrows.

3. A little trauma does every marriage good
This one is tough to acknowledge, but it is as true as anything else I might list here. The day(s) our son needed open heart surgery, or even the day he died was not as traumatic to our relationship, as the months of emptiness that followed. Still, looking back from the other side, surviving those emotion-less moments has made our desire and passion for one another more real than ever.

4. A little hope illuminates a great distance
I recently read a book by Katie Davis Majors along the same line of thought. In the midst of all the pain and all the hurt, hope seems even more real and tangible than ever. Our Josiah lived his entire eight months on this planet somewhere on the bubble between dire emergency and urgent critical care. As his parents, this could feel incredibly defeating. However, a little good news, a tiny ray of hope was enough to sustain us for days and days. 
My good news, my ray of hope in this life is found in Jesus. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Heb 6:19

When you don't know what to say, (like the way I feel today), take the opportunity to celebrate the little things. God is writing a grand story across all of time, and he allows each of us to experience a little part of that grand narrative. For these dear loved ones of ours, it is an honor to have been included in the journey.

-Pastor Milo

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New Year; New Start; New Staffing Update for Randall Church 

Well, its that time again. The time when you reflect on all that God has done in the past year, and look ahead into the coming year to see what may be coming down the line. To be fair, its almost comical to write a post like this, because year after year, time after time our plans do not come out the way we expect them to. If the last couple years have taught us anything, it is that the wisdom of Isaiah is absolutely true! "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.

Still, like a farmer is told to make plans for tilling the fields in the spring in order to reap a harvest in the fall, we lay out our plans and ask God to guide our way. As we look into 2022, we have a few updates to give you in regards to our ministry staff that will effect much of our church in the coming months. Starting January 1st, we will be inviting a few interim staff to the team while we continue in our search for a Family Pastor to compliment our team. 

First of all, Frank and Dawn Czezak have become a familiar couple to many of you in our church. They have been active members in our church since they arrived a few years back. Frank has a heart to serve the Lord and has a lot of experience as a minister for a house church he started years ago out of their home in Cheektowaga. Frank will be joining our team as an Interim Visitation and Care Shepherd primarily with a focus for our senior adult population and those dealing with chronic illness. 

As far as the Family Pastor search is concerned, we have narrowed things down to two primary candidates. Both are coming to us from our of state; one from Ohio and the other from Kentucky. For this reason, we will be pursuing some interim leaders for our children and youth in motion, knowing that either candidate will need some time to make the move here to WNY.  

For Randall Kids, we have asked Sarah Russo to serve as the official Interim Children's Ministry Coordinator, and Helen Monegro to serve with her as the Randall Kids Ministry Assistant. Both are familiar faces, and will be very instrumental in keeping that ministry humming along. We look forward to seeing them both on Sunday mornings.

For Randall Youth, we are pursuing an Intern / Interim Youth Ministry Coordinator to come in on Sundays for the next 3-5 months, teaching on Sunday mornings at the 9 o'clock hour, then running middle school and high school youth group on Sunday evenings. This is an ideal position for a college student or young adult looking for some ministry experience, while considering vocation ministry down the road. One where we can come alongside a burgeoning leader, and give them valuable ministry experience, while also seeing our children continue to grow in maturity and faith in the Lord. If you know of someone who meets this criteria, please be sure to let us know. 

Finally, in related news, our church plant in Clarence; Fieldstone Church, now has a new church planter for the new year. Eric and Kelly Farley will be starting at Fieldstone in February. Eric comes to us from Community of Grace Church in Amherst, where he currently serves as an elder. This is a beautiful picture of the regional body of Christ. Both of our churches will be working together to ensure that the Clarence church plant is well resourced. Praise be to God!

Looking forward to what 2022 has in store!
We make our plans. May God direct our paths. 

- Pastor Milo
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Married for 20 years. Unbelievable. More than anything, this mile marker gives me perspective… that we have many more markers to pass on this journey together. But here are some of the highlights from the rear view mirror. 

20 Memories For 20 Years Married To My Best Friend
 
2001. When we got married in a blizzard that dropped 8 feet of snow on Buffalo in just a few days. We delayed a couple hrs, but we still tied the knot, and almost everyone made it!

2002. When we lived in the condos just off base  from Parris Island and we learned what "palmetto bugs" are. Gross. Then we bought our first home together and had it built to our specs. We had no idea whatsoever about what's important in home design. Whoops.

2003. When I got out of the Marines and you had your summers off as a teacher. We were twenty-two  and had nothing tying us down. We could have gone to Europe or Alaska. Instead we got a puppy. Daisy Mae arrived in our home on our 2nd day of "freedom."

2004. When we both quit our jobs, sold our house, and left our great friends in Beaufort because we felt God was calling us to vocational ministry. Arrived in Greenville, where we made new friendships and started a new chapter of our lives together.

2005. When we bought our home in Greer and had a yard big enough to rate a riding lawnmower. I had to start it up with a long screwdriver and a tap of the hammer to get the solenoid to fire. But it was ours. I called it my tractor and cut the grass with pride.

2006. When we brought Daylia home from the hospital. She was just so little, and so beautiful, and we were so worried that we would do everything wrong. But eventually we figured most of it out… except for that time you needed to feed her and soaked through your sweater during my church job interview. Yikes! She's been helping us figure out how to do things the "proper" way ever since.

2007. When we brought Hazyl home from the hospital. This time you were more comfortable with the idea. You even went out on the boat and pulled me around on the wakeboard a day before she was born. Too much sun = baby comes quickly! Similarly, I definitely put her in the bike trailer way too soon. No wonder she's a daredevil.

2008. When I finished my Masters while working full time, and you ran your first Marathon while caring for our two little babies and a steady stream of college students in and out of our home. A busy time with great rewards.

2009. When we entered the first difficult time in our lives. Up to this point everything went as planned. No longer. Josiah was born with an incredibly difficult medical condition, but you were so great at keeping all the plates spinning. We moved 6 times in 6 months, and knew what was going on for each of his many, many surgeries or more. You thrived. You kept our family intact, and you ministered to those around us in similar trauma. It was wonderful.

2010. When we lost Josiah and seemingly lost everything. We didn't lose our faith, but we did lose our sense of community, and in the darkest days of grief we lost sight of each other. It was tough, but through some Godly counseling, and some Godly friendships, things began to improve. One of the most emotionally cleansing times for us was to go as a family to Croatia and experience Gods beauty there.

2011. When we reset everything.  When our story of loss and grief was a connecting point to a whole new community of people in Buffalo. We saw it heal and restore so many lives through a beautiful move of God. We saw hope rise and shine in our hearts. We saw the faithfulness of God.

2012. When we decided to try having kids again, and Maia came to be. She was such a happy baby and a pleasure for everyone to be around; and she still thinks she is the mayor in social situations. You were thriving as a mom, and always had her strapped on you in a sling or a backpack for whatever adventures the day might bring. And with the other two kids, excitement abounded at every corner.

2013. When we had to start all over in ministry. We weren't sure if this was our calling anymore, and had to do some real soul searching for what God was doing. It was crazy hard, and it was crazy frustrating. But God was faithful, and we got through it. Not without some scars, but we got through it.

2014. When we added Elias to our home and found out what a "tough baby" really was.That little dude was brutal! But the other kids were so much fun, and carried us through. We had some new ministry wins, and some great experiences with family coming in from out of town.

2015. When we made our first cross country trip and Elias screamed for 15 consecutive hours for 15 consecutive days. He broke all kinds of records, and we made all kinds of great memories with our family for a lifetime.

2016. When we took a new role in an old church that we would have never seen coming in a thousand years. We skied Tahoe and we hiked part of the Appalachian Trail. We learned what family vision meant. Finding direction in the valley times and finding prospective from the mountaintop.

2017. When we decided to put an addition on the house instead of move, and we did it in least advisable way. Still, it came out better than we ever hoped it could and God taught us how to work together through all kinds of problem solving. Granted, these skills would prove to be needed in the year to follow.

2018. When we saw our child go through the worst emotional health collapse we could have ever imagined. It put us in another year of going in and out of the hospital for months at a time, and stretched our family to the limit. But we saw our spiritual family rally again in new ways, and we saw God love our children even more than we could love them ourselves. And in the end we made it through.

2019. When we raised ducks in the piano room and we went to see the turtles on Georgia. We taught the little kids to ride without training wheels and the big kids to snowboard. We built a sweet deck and we made some new friends in the process. The Bills were in the playoffs, and our lives were back in "normal range." It was a great start to a comeback. 

2020. When the whole world stopped for Covid and all we could do was spend time with our family. It wasn't the same for everyone, but this was exactly what our kids, our home, and our marriage needed. Extended time to move closer and closer together and build what had been broken previously. Restorative work was being done in every facet of our lives. 

2021. When we got to take the family on the road and see the nation's treasured through their eyes. Gods beauty on display, day after day, with amazement for us all everywhere we went. Reaching a seven year sabbatical in one ministry setting was something we never imagined in previous years, but something we value more now than ever. 

2022? The adventure continues. 

We will know whose we are. We will be who we are. We will love one another. We will go where he tells us to go. 

I love you Erin. Happy Anniversary 
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Simply having a Wonderful Christmastime? Is that even possible? I remember Tommy Hargrove, a former pastor I served with,  preach a sermon on Christmas Eve about keeping it simple for the Christmas Holiday Season. It was a memorable sermon, so I thought it timely to share it with you today.

Keep Simple Plans
There's a lot going on in all of our lives. Do your best to fight against the pressure to fill every available second with high energy activities and energy draining plans. What would it look like for your home to have multiple nights in a row that looked similar to one another? Consistency during stressful seasons can definitely be your ally!

Have Simple Moments 
There's a lot of incredible experiences you could have with the family and friends that are closest to you this year. But before you put too much pressure on yourself and wear yourself out… just remember that the simple moments make the sweetest memories.  

Make Simple Decisions
I don't have to tell you that our world is a very topsy-turvey place right now. Give yourself the freedom to press "pause" on major decisions right now if you can, and just keep things as basic as you can.  Also remember, that every long journey happens one small step, one simple decision at a time. 

My prayer is that you can have a Simple and Wonderful Christmastime this year. A time where you are reminded of the beauty and wonder of the nativity story. Where the maker of the universe humbled himself to be born in human flesh in a unimportant stable filled with hay. …and they called his name Emmanuel, which is translated "God with us."

If you would like to join us, we would love to see you this coming Sunday afternoon for a simple 30 minute presentation of this miraculous nativity story. Just register for a slot on our website at theStory.RandallChurch.org and we will be ready for you! Consider yourself invited! May it be a great start to the most wonderful time of the year!

- Pastor Milo

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