Reflections on Faith and Community

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

01/15/2019 7:28 AM

He Was Praying

01/15/2019 7:28 AM
01/15/2019 7:28 AM
"When Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove." (Luke 3:21)
 
On Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of our Lord when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. We used the version found in Luke’s gospel, which has a number of unique things about it. We talked about one of them on Sunday where Luke seems to have Jesus simply stand in line like all the others who had gone out that day. We discussed how, by telling the story of Jesus’s baptism in this way, Luke is pointing us to a God who not only becomes one of us, but is willing to stand in line with us, right alongside us.
 
Another unique thing about the Lukan version is the addition of prayer. No other gospel has Jesus praying here. For Luke, it is the beginning of numerous accounts of Jesus praying. He prays before he calls the disciples. He prays in the story of his transfiguration. He prays on the night he is arrested and at his death, just to mention a few. Prayer is particularly important for Luke, as it is for all of us.
 
At 7:00 pm tonight, the Session will be deciding whether or not to officially move forward with the capital campaign. Say a prayer for them. The elders who serve on this council are wonderfully dedicated, faithful, and genuine. Together this evening, we will seek God’s guidance for this particular moment in the church. Join them in prayer. May God bless our church family with life, and life abundant.
01/08/2019 12:12 PM

In Case You Missed It

01/08/2019 12:12 PM
01/08/2019 12:12 PM
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4)
 
On Sunday afternoon, Don Smith, our Horizons Stewardship Campaign Strategist, reported on his findings from the pre-campaign study that was done in the fall. A full copy of the report is in the church office if you missed the meeting and would like to check one out. Simply contact Ida Botto.
 
One thing I appreciate about Horizons is that they are focused on people and ministry. Yes, dollars are certainly important in any campaign. That much is obvious. But what many often forget is that the church is a community of people engaged in ministry together for the glory of God. Horizons gets that, which is a real blessing.
 
So, we have heard from the strategist, and even though we have begun some recruiting for the campaign, the next step is for the Session to formally endorse us moving forward. That conversation will happen soon, and you will hear once the decision is officially made.
 
Once again, I find myself grateful to serve as pastor of this church. You are faithful, supportive, loving, warm, compassionate, and more capable than you realize. I hope you share my gratitude for the joy of being part of this great church. May that gratitude be the bedrock of our ministry together in this New Year.
12/29/2018 2:58 PM

Like New

12/29/2018 2:58 PM
12/29/2018 2:58 PM

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

There is something about the turn of the year that makes it all seem new and fresh. It’s as if, in this one brief moment, we feel like we actually have the chance to put our past behind us and look with fresh eyes into a bright future filled with possibility. “Let’s bury the past, and get on with it,” we think. It can feel wonderfully optimistic. Verse 10 in Psalm 51 is just the kind of line we need for such a time. Help me start over, Lord. The ball has dropped, and the year has changed. Create a clean heart in me, and help me start over.

What is it that makes us feel this way? It might have something to do with the notion that, most of the time, we feel like robots. We have our routines and our schedules, and the days seem to roll into each other with an abundance of ordinary. We feel like, as CS Lewis puts it, “little tin soldiers.” And we don’t always know what to do with feeling like that, feeling like a tin soldier simply going through the motions. But God does. God’s response was to become one of us, a little tin soldier just like us. And so it is with Jesus Christ, the one who was born into this world like we are, the one who lived this life like we do, the one who died and was raised to new life. As Lewis is quick to point out, “The humanity of Christ rose again, not only the God. That is the whole point. For the first time we saw a real person. One tin soldier - real tin, just like the rest - had come fully and splendidly alive.”

I think we do feel like tin soldiers sometimes, and the New Year seems to remind us of what might be possible. So let’s embrace it. Move into this year convinced of the transformation God has perfected in us by melting our hearts made of tin with the love Jesus Christ our Lord, the one who makes us fully and completely alive, the one who makes us feel like new. Happy New Year!

12/18/2018 1:42 PM

What a Fun Day

12/18/2018 1:42 PM
12/18/2018 1:42 PM

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (Luke 1:46)

Luke 1:46 notes the first words out of Mary’s mouth when she greets her cousin Elizabeth with the news of her pregnancy. As you may know, Elizabeth was also pregnant, soon to become the mother of John the Baptist. I’ve always pictured that meeting as one filled with more joy than two people could handle. I can see both of them jumping about and laughing together feeling more abundantly blessed than they could have ever imagined. They were ripe with life, God’s life. It was a fun day, in the best sense of the word.

I believe I felt something similar last Sunday as we worshipped together. Both of our services were filled with joy as the music and our singing echoed around the sanctuary. It wasn’t just the sounds of Advent that did it. It wasn’t just the fact that we were singing the carols of the season or witnessing the incredible musical talent of our praise team at 9 AM or the sanctuary choir and instrumentalists at 11:05 AM. No, it was more than that. Sunday morning had the feel of a people who are ripe with life, God’s life.

I wanted to echo Mary’s words when I left the Canyon Creek campus on the heels of outstanding worship. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” What a fun day it was, in the best sense of the word. It made me feel more abundantly blessed than I could ever ask for or imagine. I hope it did the same for you. May God be with you this week as we continue to wait with expectation for the God who will, yet again, surprise us with faith, hope, and love… and life.

12/11/2018 1:26 PM

The Waiting Game

12/11/2018 1:26 PM
12/11/2018 1:26 PM

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. (Psalm 62:1)

On Sunday during the children’s time at the 9:00am service, Liz Rasley played a game with the kids where they passed around a ball of plastic wrap. They each took a turn pulling off one of the sheets of plastic wrap that, slowly but surely, uncovered the baby Jesus. During the unwrapping, kids began getting a little antsy having to wait. Even Liz ended up having to speed it up some due to “lack of time.” It was a perfect example of how we don’t like to wait.

I remember how hard it was to wait for Christmas when I was a child. Everything seemed to take ten times as long as normal. The days seemed to drag on and on… the hours... the minutes even. It felt excruciatingly painful. It is easier to wait for Christmas the older I am, but it is still difficult to wait when I don’t want to do so. When I am running late, everything seems to take longer than normal. The lights stay red longer, the cars seem to move more slowly than usual, and it feels like everything that could happen to slow me down, does happen. I don’t like to wait.

Eugene Peterson once said that busyness is a disease of the spirit and that restlessness is a sign of it. If that is true, and I believe it is, then the waiting game of Advent is the cure. Let us all receive this season of Advent as a lesson in waiting. May our souls wait, not with reluctance, but with expectation. May we all welcome the art of waiting into our lives that Christ might show up in our hearts with the surprise of hope and joy.

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Join us for worship this Sunday at 9:00am or 11:05am.
You can still make your 2019 commitment online.
Women's Bible Study - Come Alongside Paul! Wednesday mornings, 10 am in 102.
Join us Sunday mornings in February as we celebrate our Mission Ministries!
Sunday, February 3, youth will be collecting cash donations and non-perishable canned goods.