Reflections on Faith
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
Published on 04/30/2018 @ 9:38 PM CDT
On Sunday we began a new sermon series titled “A Playful Faith.” I look forward to walking through this topic with you, mainly because I believe that playful and faith are two words we do not often equate with one another. Deep faith maybe, or solid faith, or fervent faith, or even joyful faith, but playful faith? How many times have you ever heard someone say that the church they belong to is playful? If being playful is something we ever had as Christians, we seem to have lost it somewhere along the way.
The phenomenon of losing our playfulness is an interesting one. Some of us become less playful as we age. Others of us have never really understood what true playfulness even means, and yet, I would submit that playfulness lies at the heart of what it means to be Christian. Our Westminster Confession informs us that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” We are to enjoy God. Surely this enjoyment involves a great deal of playfulness.
Dr. Jako Hamman, a professor at Western Theological Seminary, observes that “many of us would rather watch others at play than engage in playful behavior ourselves. We become observers and rarely participants. It is no coincidence that, as our own uncertainties and anxieties mount, we are willing to pay large sums of money to watch and admire professional players.”
What might it look like for you to become less of an observer and more of a participant? Where in your life are you the most playful, if anywhere at all? Have you, in fact, lost your playfulness somewhere along the way? Over the coming weeks, let’s try to reclaim it together.
Published on 04/24/2018 @ 8:43 AM CDT
Published on 04/02/2018 @ 7:00 PM CDT
Jesus said, "The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again." (Mark 10:33-34)
For Christians, this is a week to remember. It is the culmination of all that we have shared about Jesus since the beginning of Advent. All of his predictions and statements about what is in store for him came to pass in this one holy week, set apart from all the others. The warm welcome of the crowds waving their palm branches will turn cold. Those who listened to his great stories will turn away. Even his most devoted and trusted followers will turn him down. This week is filled with desertion from every angle one can think up. It is, for Christians, a week to remember, for we are part of the crowd who killed him.
As we walk through this week, make every effort to participate in each piece of it. On Thursday, be part of our Maundy Thursday Service at 7:00 pm. It is easily one of the most powerful and unique worship experiences of the year. Then take time on Good Friday for self-reflection in the Sanctuary on the crucified Christ. Finally, be part of the excitement of the All Church Easter Egg Hunt as we extend hospitality to our refugee neighbors, and bring the gift of Christ to them.
I have always believed that Easter morning cannot be fully appreciated without experiencing the week that leads up to it. I do hope you find the time to be part of it. As this week to remember unfolds, may you be surprised yet again by the depth of God's love for us in Jesus Christ. May Lent end in sorrow as Easter fills us with new life!
Published on 03/27/2018 @ 7:07 PM CDT
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Allow me to share with you what I will be doing this week. When you read this, I will be in Indiana at a 7 day gathering called Presbyterian CREDO. Their website describes it as a conference designed to help pastors “cultivate their spiritual, vocational, health, and financial well-being, as well as their leadership potential.” It also says that CREDO is:
- an intentional Christ-centered community
- a living stream with a sustainable spirit
- a work of the heart, mind, body, and spirit
- a four-step life cycle process of identity, discernment, practice, and transformation
It is organized by our denomination’s benefits group, The Board of Pensions, and you have to be invited in order to go. I was invited many years ago, but I passed on it. My friends who have attended told me to never do that again, so I promised myself to accept if I were to ever be invited again.
Now that I find myself in the middle season of my pastoral career, I also find myself reflecting a great deal on my own faith, my calling as a pastor, and life in general. I am sure that is simply part of being middle-aged. I don’t necessarily expect to come away with a profound new understanding of myself or for the week to reveal miraculous things, but I do hope it will serve the purpose it is intended to serve, whatever that may be. I guess I find myself being open to God’s still small voice. I picture Jesus in that kind of posture when Mark talks about him going away to pray alone. I too will be spending a week in prayer. It is important for pastors to do that, and, truth be told, we rarely get the chance. I am looking forward to this experience. See you in a week.
Published on 03/08/2018 @ 10:02 PM CDT