Reflections on Faith

Dear friends,

In this blog, you will find weekly reflections on life and faith. My hope is that, in some way, they will prove helpful to you in your daily living. May God bless you on the spiritual journey.

Andrew S. Odom
Pastor

08/21/2017 6:28 PM

From Generation to Generation

08/21/2017 6:28 PM
08/21/2017 6:28 PM
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. (Psalm 90:1)
 
This Sunday we begin a series of sermons on generations. At Canyon Creek, we have 6 different existing generations (barely) if you include the one or two members who are at the tail end of the famous GI Generation. That is incredible! So many generations worshipping together is a real gift. It is also a real challenge. I believe that learning about the generations can help us understand ourselves a little more. I also believe it can help us see God at work more fully in each one of us, no matter what age we are.
 
In the series, we will look at the different types of generations (there are 4: civic, adaptive, idealist, reactive). We will look at some of the personality traits of existing generations (GI, Silent, Boomer, GenX, Millennial, Homeland). We will see how generational patterns play out in different biblical stories and what God might be revealing to us as a result. We will also take a moment each Sunday to recognize members of the generation we are highlighting that day.
 
I look forward to enjoying this time with you. I also hope that we will gain a better sense of ourselves, our faith, and this generationally diverse church family. If you would like to do some reading up on the different generations, here is a document briefly describing all the generations since the beginning of our country. See you Sunday!
08/14/2017 7:56 PM

A New Reality

08/14/2017 7:56 PM
08/14/2017 7:56 PM

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

One of the things I know about community is that it can take a good long while for a new reality to set in. The process can take years. During this time of “communal learning”, a process of osmosis occurs. People will start saying things like, “Don’t you see what’s going on?” Early on, others will respond with statements like, “You’re overreacting. It’s not as bad as you think.” At some point though, reality begins to set in, and the people begin to realize that the problems aren’t going to go away. They finally start to say things like, “Oh, I see.”

I believe we are at that moment in our nation. Saturday’s events in Charlottesville are just another example of how the problem is not going away. With plans for further marches and rallies across the country by white supremacy groups, things are likely to get worse before they get better. The vile and sinister nature of it is, of course, antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is simply no room in the heart of a Christian for that kind of hatred and bigotry. Perhaps the most despicable piece for me is that the name of God is used by these groups to further the cause.

Well known pastor and theologian, Brian McLaren, was there. Among the things he said about what happened, one stood out for me. He said, "This tense season of our history needs to be, quite literally, a come-to-Jesus moment for Christianity in America." I think there is truth to what he is saying. As Christians, we are all called to examine and re-examine what we are doing and how it affects others, how we might be a barrier to oneness in Christ. In order to be part of a better world that seeks a more lasting peace, the hard work of repentance begins with us.

07/11/2017 8:59 AM

Good Medicine

07/11/2017 8:59 AM
07/11/2017 8:59 AM
A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
 
As a pastor, I have seen people in all kinds of situations. I have been with families during times of sorrow and grief. I have listened to people share their deepest fears and their darkest secrets. I have tried to counsel others through difficult periods in their life. One thing I have come to believe in my years of ministry is that a good laugh at the right time can be a miraculous thing.
 
Eileen Russell, a clinical psychologist, talks about how easy it is to "become myopic about personal pain. We can get stuck in negative ways of thinking," she says. "But a sense of humor keeps you from going down too far.” Jesuit Priest James Martin further suggests that, “Humor helps us endure suffering by giving us something of a break and reminding us that pain is not the last word for the one who believes in God. Simply put, humor gets us through life.”

Humor gets us through life. Why is that? How is it that a good laugh at the right time can rekindle our hope that we might make it after all? The only reason I can think of has to do with the image of the cross when Jesus takes his last painful breath, and it is done. It seems death has won. But to our great surprise, on the third day Jesus was nowhere to be found. From the empty tomb comes a resurrection laugh that still cleanses our souls and fills us with life to this day. That’s why we can laugh. We can laugh together because we are no longer chained down. We can laugh together because we are filled with God’s holy laughter. Yes, we can laugh. It is a divine sign that death has lost its sting. It is a healing balm in a messy world. Laughter is good medicine.

06/28/2017 1:40 PM

Laughing Together

06/28/2017 1:40 PM
06/28/2017 1:40 PM

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:41)

Happy 4th of July! It is my hope that you are able to have some enjoyment today. Whether you are watching fireworks, spending time with friends or family, or simply experiencing a quieter break, may today be one of gratitude for the freedoms we so often forget we have. Even if you have to work today, I hope you can take a moment to give thanks for life.

We are in the middle of a series on laughter and the spiritual life. Sunday, we talked about how laughter can be contagious and can help break down relational barriers. Quite often it is through humorous experiences and laughter that people form a much closer bond to one another. I remember asking my grandmother one time what it was about my grandfather that caught her attention. Her reply simply was, “He makes me laugh.”

When Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is also pregnant, to tell her the news of her own pregnancy, there is a ripple effect of gleeful laughter. Immediately the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps, causing Elizabeth to be filled with joy, followed by Mary joyfully exploding into song in the verses that follow. As one pastor points out, “This story literally exudes joy.”

Laughter and joy are contagious, they build relationships, they bring people closer together, and they fill our hearts to overflowing. Laughing together is an expression of communal joy, which is gift of the Holy Spirit. I hope you find time to spend with others in this way, enjoying the relational gift that holy laughter can bring.

Here is a link to a youtube video just for fun. I hope it puts a smile on your face: Video: Baby Laughing at Dog Eating Popcorn

06/26/2017 11:11 AM

Laughing into Belief

06/26/2017 11:11 AM
06/26/2017 11:11 AM

Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6)

One day God came to Abraham and told him that his wife Sarah was going to have a baby. Sarah overheard this conversation and began laughing out loud. The whole notion was ridiculous, completely impossible. She was well beyond child bearing years, and Abraham, well, Abraham was really old. So she laughed, and Abraham laughed right along with her. I’m sure they kept on laughing, at least until her tummy began to grow. When their son Isaac (a name that literally means “he laughs”) was finally born, Sarah looked to the heavens in gratitude and said, “God has brought laughter for me.”

Can laughter serve as a catalyst for belief? I believe so. We tend to think of laughter as a frivolous activity that serves no purpose other than sheer entertainment. After all, we find great enjoyment in a laugh. But there is more to it than that. I believe God speaks to us through laughter in the same way God does through any other means. Throughout the beginning of the story of Isaac, we are surprised to discover God using laughter as a powerful tool to help Abraham and Sarah move from doubt to belief. What started off as a complete impossibility, laughingly becomes the real deal. They literally laugh themselves into belief as their hearts are opened up to the impossible promise of God.

As Walter Brueggemann astutely points out, “Laughter is a biblical way of receiving something new that can’t be explained.” Sometimes our faith can present us with the most outlandish of things, things that cause us to chuckle at the thought of them. What we learn from Abraham and Sarah, is that our holy laughter can serve as a prelude to a deeper faith and a more fervent belief in God.

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