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

05/13/2019 10:30 PM

The Announcement

05/13/2019 10:30 PM
05/13/2019 10:30 PM

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. (Psalm 100:1-3)

Sunday was Announcement Sunday for the “Set Free” Campaign. The benchmarks we had set were $2.0 million as our “First Step” goal, $2.5 million as our “Challenge” goal, and $3.0 million as our “Set Free” stretch goal. The names for these benchmarks weren’t just thought up at random. They aptly describe the difficulty of a church our size with our financial ability reaching them. The “First Step” was exactly that, a first step. We knew we would be able to pull that step off, and it was to be our first step. The challenge was to go beyond that, and finally the stretch goal was just that, a real stretch.

The announcement was made that, as of the end of last week, we now have 200 households committing a total of $2,761, 833. We have surpassed the challenge! What an incredible thing to be able to share! Just today I was asked by a member of the Finance Committee how I feel about the campaign. My immediate response was to say how proud I am of this church. I hope it helps you to know that your pastor is proud of you. I am. You are remarkable, and you need to believe it. One of the best blessings God could ever give us is the gift of each other. With that thought in mind, let me just say that we are richly blessed.

For me, this campaign has always been about our coming together. The numbers are important, and they always are. But the most important thing, far above a dollar amount, is how we do it. I have often said that how we do things is more important that what we do. Throughout the campaign, we have shared, sacrificed, laughed, celebrated, dreamed, hoped, prayed, and worshiped. I am so proud of you. May God continue to bless us with the gift of each other.

05/07/2019 2:15 PM

Imago Dei

05/07/2019 2:15 PM
05/07/2019 2:15 PM

“God chose you in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
(Ephesians 1:4)

Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr recently shared this thought on his blog, “You (and every other creation of God) begin with your unique divine DNA, an inner destiny as it were, an absolute core that knows the truth about you, a true believer tucked away in the cellar of your being, an imago Dei that begs to be allowed, to be fulfilled, and to show itself.”

Imago Dei, a Latin phrase that translates into image of God. I am made in the image of God. You are made in the image of God. We are made in the image of God, our true self. If there is any foundational element on which our faith is built, this is it. The notion that we are intertwined with both human and divine realities goes all the way back to the beginning of Genesis.

On Sunday the children of the church put on their annual musical, In the Image, as the message in morning worship. As they acted out the story, it quickly reminded us all of how easily we see the image of God in the exuberance of young people. There is such an innocent quality about them, one that is as yet unstained by the world. I found myself experiencing new hope for the world.

For me, the big take away from Sunday is to remember that the imago Dei is not something reserved solely for children. It is part of the fabric that makes up each one of us. If there is anything the church is here to do, anything religion is there to accomplish, it is to help us experience our True Self, God in us and us in God. “If religion does not do this,” says Rohr, “it is junk religion.”

04/30/2019 8:04 AM

What Makes It Spiritual

04/30/2019 8:04 AM
04/30/2019 8:04 AM

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:21-22)

Three things happened in worship Sunday morning. First, at the 9am service, we received a wonderful group of new members into the life of the church. We prayed for them and asked God’s blessing on this new relationship. Then, at the 11am service, we celebrated the 2019 Confirmation Class and welcomed them as full members of the church. Family members, friends, and mentors came forward to place hands on them as we prayed. I was particularly proud this year as our oldest daughter was confirmed as well. Finally, it was Set Free Campaign Commitment Sunday when we all brought our commitments forward. If you have not been able to do that yet, a team will be contacting you soon as a friendly reminder, and on Sunday, May 12, we will make the big announcement of the total amount raised.

In and of themselves, these are all wonderful events. But what makes them spiritual? Is it that we all come together for a common cause or exciting moment? Is it that we become a little emotional because of what is happening? Is that what makes it spiritual? Come to think of it, what makes worship itself spiritual? Is it the music, the prayers, the message? The answer is simple, of course. God makes it spiritual. The Holy Spirit makes it spiritual. It’s an easy answer that is hard to understand.

I was in a conversation yesterday with a group of pastors and musicians from other churches in Dallas. At one point, one of the more seasoned pastors in the group chimed in and said, “You know, I’ve read a whole lot in my life, and all I can still say is that I don’t know how it works, I just know that God does it.” We don’t know how it works; we just know that God does it. That’s what makes what we do together spiritual. God mysteriously shows up and turns something ordinary into something much bigger.

04/22/2019 7:22 PM

Confirmation and Commitment

04/22/2019 7:22 PM
04/22/2019 7:22 PM

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. (Psalm 98:1)

Easter Sunday was simply incredible. The music was uplifting; the worship was powerful, and the Holy Spirit was palpable. What a day! I was particularly moved by the piece “Mercy Tree” that our Revelation Youth Choir sang during the later service. It was absolutely stunning. We have such an amazing group of youth at Canyon Creek and are so blessed by them.

This coming Sunday, be sure to be here for Confirmation Sunday as our 8th graders are confirmed during the 11:05 worship service. They have worked hard this year and are ready to become full members of the Body of Christ.

This Sunday is also our Set Free Campaign Commitment Sunday. As of April 14, we had already received just over $2.1 million in commitments, which is extremely exciting! It proves that together, with God’s help, we can make this happen. You should receive a letter and commitment card in the mail today or tomorrow. I would like each one of you to pray about how you might be part of helping this congregation begin a debt free season of ministry. Then bring your completed commitment on Sunday to bring forward at a special time in worship. No matter what amount you feel you are able to give, I believe it will be right. My family has made our commitment, along with many others. “Lord, what do you want to do through me?” is the prayer we are praying through this campaign. Let’s all be part of this effort.

Finally, remain in thoughtful prayer for those who have suffered this weekend because of their faith. The bombings in Sri Lanka are a gruesome reminder of just how horrible we can be. If Easter reminds us of anything, it’s that there is no room in our hearts for hate. We simply will not do it. Each exchange you have in your day presents an opportunity to spread a different message. Love is the trump card of Jesus Christ. Don’t forget that.

04/16/2019 8:58 AM

Two Things

04/16/2019 8:58 AM
04/16/2019 8:58 AM
...but this is your hour, when darkness reigns. (Luke 22:53)
 
I have two things to share with you. The first is regarding our Set Free Campaign. The second is regarding the week ahead.
 
Set Free: On Sunday we received the exciting announcement that, as a result of our pre-Celebration Sunday gatherings, we have already received commitments from 89 households totaling $2,104,618, an average of $23,647per household (the average I shared in worship was incorrect. I had a long week.). Some committed more and others less as each was able, and what a generous congregation you are! I am so proud of this church.
 
The Week Ahead: The line above from Luke 22 says it all, noting the turn from Palm Sunday hosannas to Good Friday silence. We should enter this week with hesitation and walk through it on our tip toes. Here is a reminder of what we have planned to help us do that together.
Tenebrae Service, Thu. 7:00pm - this is the Last Supper, the last bit of light, in one of the most powerful worship services of the year.
Service of Shadows and Spikes, Fri. 7:30 - a new service this year in the Atrium. After hearing the plan for it, I can tell you that you absolutely don’t want to miss it.
Community Egg Hunt, Sat. 11:00am - Fun, huge, welcoming, diverse, a time your family will not forget.
Easter Sunday, 9am & 11:05am
 
I leave you with a poem by Ann Weems that Ellen Dittman reminded me of. Take it with you. Let the words ground you in the mystery of all that is holy this week.
                      
Holy is the week...
Holy, consecrated, belonging to God...
We move from hosannas to horror
with predictable ease
of those who know not what they do.
 
Our hosannas sung, our palms waved,
let us go with passion into this week.
It is time to curse fig trees that do not yield fruit.
It is time to cleanse our temples of any blasphemy.
It is time to greet Jesus as the Lord’s Anointed One,
to lavishly break our alabaster
and pour perfume out for him
without counting the cost.
 
It is a time for preparation...
The time to give thanks and break bread is upon us.
The time to give thanks and drink of the cup is imminent.
Eat, drink, remember:
On this night of nights, each one must ask,
as we dip our bread in the wine,
“Is it I?”
 
And on that darkest of days, each of us must stand
beneath the tree
and watch the dying
if we are to be there
when the stone is rolled away.
 
The only road to Easter morning
is through the unrelenting shadows of that Friday.
Only then will the alleluias be sung;
only then will the dancing begin.

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Music by Kelly Vaughn Band and dinner from King Kups food truck.
June 17-21 (M-F) 4-5:30pm with performance on Sunday, June 23.
VBS June 17-21, 5:30-8:30 pm.
Read information on the campaign and make your commitment online.
May 31-June 2, 2019