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


 

04/30/2018 9:38 PM

Become a "Mossy" Person

04/30/2018 9:38 PM
04/30/2018 9:38 PM
They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. (Psalm 1:3)
 
In The Play-Full Life, Jaco Hamman refers to an African proverb he grew up with, “The people who love me grow on me like moss.” He then explains that the proverb is equating people with the medicinal qualities of moss, how our friends can become a soothing balm that protects and restores. Compare that with the American proverb, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” Here we see two different worldviews, one steeped in people and community, and another steeped in constant motion and achievement.
 
On Sunday we talked about becoming more creative when it comes to our conversations. We must certainly be getting tired of the same old arguments that never seem to accomplish much. We present our “side” and our “information” and our “statistics” in order to prove our point, and yet we can’t seem to make any headway. What if we were to change the game altogether? What if, in your next conversation, instead of looking to prove your point, you became insatiably curious about the other person, who they are, where they come from, what they hope for in their life? What if you slowed it way down and actually talked to them?
 
It is my belief that when you invest in people over position and relationship over rhetoric, you will experience a deeper richness in your life and in your faith. Like the African proverb suggests, the most unlikely people might actually become friends who grow on you like moss. Become a more “mossy” person. Seek God in every relationship you are part of. Love like you never have before, and see what happens next.
04/24/2018 8:43 AM

Lost Along the Way

04/24/2018 8:43 AM
04/24/2018 8:43 AM
Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. (Song of Solomon 2:8)

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.
04/02/2018 7:00 PM

Resurrection Is Everywhere

04/02/2018 7:00 PM
04/02/2018 7:00 PM
After his suffering Jesus presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:1)
 
A pastor friend of mine recently blogged about one of his childhood mentors who helped him once when he was struggling with the idea of resurrection:
 
He asked, “How did we get from the upper room to Westminster Abbey? How did we get from the disciples singing a simple fisherman’s lullaby to Handel’s Messiah? How did we get from this rag-tag community of simple folks who lived on the margins of the world to the World Council of Churches?” His mentor also brought up the point that many of our modern schools and hospitals were born out of this movement of people who would believe and follow after the risen Christ. Today, hungry people are fed, sick people are cared for, broken people are being made whole. “From that moment on,” my friend says, “I saw resurrection everywhere.”
 
Sometimes all it takes is the right word or phrase, the right perspective, or the right experience at the right time to change our way of thinking on something, like resurrection, that often baffles and befuddles us. It helped my friend realize that resurrection is everywhere, God’s redemptive love at large in the world. May you see resurrection all around you, living in you, and lifting this world up in love. Happy Easter!
03/27/2018 7:07 PM

A Week to Remember

03/27/2018 7:07 PM
03/27/2018 7:07 PM

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!

03/08/2018 10:02 PM

Off To Pray

03/08/2018 10:02 PM
03/08/2018 10:02 PM

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.

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Women's Summer Bible Study Every other Wednesday starting June 13. From 10:00- 11:30 am in Room 102
Join us June 24 at 7:00 pm for our annual Patriotic Concert. Then stay for homemade ice cream.