What if we lived every day like it might be our last? This is the question that was answered in a song by Tim McGraw, "Live Like You Were Dying." It is also the theme of a community-wide program being offered by First United Methodist Church of Thomson.
"We were looking for a fresh and meaningful way to reach out into the community that would have the kind of impact that revivals once had," said Senior Pastor Rev. Tom Kerr, "and when I and the church staff learned about Live Like You Were Dying, we were very excited. The potential to impact lives and touch people, whether they are regular church goers or not is very great."
The program will begin on Sunday, March 1, and end on Sunday, March 29. Small group sign-ups will continue thru March 1st, and the small groups will begin meeting that week.
"Live Like You Were Dying fit perfectly into the weeks and Sundays of March, which coincide with the season of Lent this year," according to Associate Pastor Rev. Beverly Casstevens.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a time when we reflect on our mortality. She explained that at the Ash Wednesday service, she and Rev. Kerr will make the sign of the cross on worshiper's foreheads using ashes, saying "from dust you come and to dust you will return." Many people think that Lent is a time to give up something, and while that is one way to observe the season, it is even more appropriate to begin or to revive something.
Over the 30 days of the program, participants are encourages to embrace the gift of life, prepare for eternity, and to "take up" sweeter speech, deeper love, and forgiveness. The focus will be on putting these ideas into action in our daily lives.
The song, "Live Like You Were Dying," hit the country music chart at No. 1 in 2004, and went on to win the Grammy for Best Country Song of the Year. The song writing team of Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman based the lyrics on real-life experiences with friends who had received the diagnosis that they were dying.
As Mr. Wiseman heard more and more about the spontaneous, life-changing impact of the song, he began to realize the positive potential of asking ourselves, what if we only had a month of life left to us? As a result, Mr. Wiseman teamed up with Lance Witt, one of the pastors at Saddleback Church in California, who has a passion for spiritual formation. Mr. Witt was instrumental in developing this 30-day experience that includes worship and small group experiences based on key scripture verses. Also on the program team is John Fisher, author of the daily devotionals for The Purpose Driven Life, who was engaged to develop the daily devotionals for the program. Author and counselor, Gary Smalley, was recruited to develop and lead video teaching sessions used in the small group meetings.
First United Methodist has three Sunday worship services. There are two traditional services in the main sanctuary at 8:45 and 11 a.m. A contemporary service, Café Praise, is held in the Family Life Center at 8:45 a.m. with coffee time beginning at 8:30 a.m. Small groups will be meeting at various days and times. The Ash Wednesday service will be held at 6:15 p.m. in the Knox Chapel.