Reflections on Faith and Community
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
There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” (Luke 23:38)
This coming Sunday is the final Sunday in the church year. It will be followed by the season of Advent, which kicks off the beginning of a new church year. We start the year off with the expectation of the birth of Jesus, and we finish it with the acknowledgment that Jesus is, in fact, the King. He is the King of our faith, the King of our hearts, and the King of our souls. Jesus the King
As we come together for worship this Sunday, we will read one of the final stories of Jesus’ life as accounted for in Luke. We are going to spend some time together reflecting on what Jesus taught about the kingdom of God and how it affects us. We are different people than we would have been because of this Jesus. We think differently about this world because of this Jesus. We are challenged to love other people, help other people, listen to other people, embrace other people, identify with other people, in ways we might never have otherwise, all because of this one life, this one teacher, this one person named Jesus. Jesus the King.
Spend some time this week thinking about how Jesus has made a difference in your life. Who might you have been had you never learned about this one life that changed everything? What kind of person would you be? See you Sunday!
Published on 11/18/2019 @ 7:59 PM CDT
And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and brought the Lord’s offering to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service. (Exodus 35:21)
Sunday was Commitment Sunday when we all bring our commitment cards for the coming year to the front of the sanctuary. There is something about it that always gets me. What moves me doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that we are bringing cards forward or anything like that. No, I guess what gets me is that we do it willingly, that each one of us has thought about it and made a choice to be part of it, to be part of this church yet again. It’s almost like a renewal of our wedding vows. It has that kind of feel.
In Exodus, right after Moses comes down from the mountain with the 10 commandments, God tells him to take up an offering in order to build a tabernacle (think mobile temple). The story then describes what feels like a massive crowd bringing whatever they had. Commitment Sunday has that kind of atmosphere around it, like we are bringing everything we are to the front of the church to be part of this God-sized experiment together. I can’t help but smile every time I am part of it.
Thank you Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church. Thank you for making a commitment to what God is doing with us. Thank you for being nothing more or less than who you already are. I look forward to another year together.
p.s. If you have not yet made a 2020 commitment, you may do it online at: https://www.canyoncreekpres.org/2020-estimate-of-giving
Published on 11/11/2019 @ 7:23 PM CDT
The whole assembly kept silence and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. (Acts 15:12)
I recently read an article by congregational consultant David Brubaker. In it, he talks about the nature of congregations and what lies at the heart of why they exist. In other words, what are the dynamics at work in a congregation? What needs are literally being met in church? “If we ask congregational members why they participate in congregational life,” Brubaker says, “the answers often resemble one of the following:
- “I appreciate the worship service in this congregation.”
- “I come because of the people that are here.”
- “It’s important to me that my children are raised with the values of this community.”
Brubaker goes on to say that “these responses reflect the three core functions of a religious congregation” that also meet three core human needs: meaning making, belonging, and value transmission.
- Meaning making. Religious congregations provide a coherent worldview that invites members into a story that is larger than even the congregation or tradition of which they are a part.
- According to Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone, religious congregations in the U.S. assemble more people on a weekly basis than any other type of voluntary association. Congregations offer established relational networks that, if permeable, invite visitors to affiliate with others and build meaningful relationships.
- Values Transmission. Every religious congregation either draws on some tradition with established beliefs and practices or is in the process of creating their own. Those members with children often desire to see the values that are embedded in these beliefs and practices passed on to their progeny. (https://www.congregationalconsulting.org/why-congregations-exist/)
As a Christian church, we are about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a reality that brings meaning into our lives, creates a deep sense of belonging to a story much bigger than ourselves, and instills values in us that are passed down from one to another. When you come to church, so much more is happening than you might realize in any given moment. What a gift that is. See you Sunday!
Published on 11/04/2019 @ 10:45 PM CDT
Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. (Luke 14:21)
As I write this, I am getting ready to go help set up our church booth at Boo on Ballard in downtown Wylie. Even though it was postponed a few days due to rain, I’m sure there will be a large number of people there. Last year they said there were 5,000 in attendance.
I sometimes wonder about the church being present at events like Boo on Ballard. I wonder what people think when they come across us? Do they think, “Geez… here’s the church again simply trying to get more members.” Or maybe they think, “I’m so glad churches do this to help people know there is a place to go.” I’m sure people have all kinds of thoughts about churches being part of parties like Boo on Ballard. It’s not all that dissimilar from when Jesus attended wedding receptions or walked the streets being present to people, or spoke in front of large crowds outside of town. He got all kinds of responses from all kinds of people. So, the church goes where the people are, much like Jesus did. Some will question it. Others will give thanks.
My hope, of course, is that the church being out in the community in this way is received as a positive thing. After all, we are all in some way representative of the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame mentioned in Luke’s gospel. Some of us are spiritually poor, others emotionally lame, and still others mentally blind. As one of my good friends always used to say, “Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of affliction… be kind.” For me, that is why the church is present. We are there, first and foremost, to simply serve as a reminder that God cares.
Published on 10/28/2019 @ 3:45 PM CDT
A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. (Luke 8:23)
The tornadoes hit. We know that it will happen sometimes, that we are not immune from natural disasters, but still, we hope it never comes. It did on Sunday. One of the tornadoes ripped through my old neighborhood in Preston Hollow. After the storm, I began seeing posts from friends. My friend’s pizzeria at Preston and Royal is gone. Another friends parents live right behind there, and their street looks like a warzone. Still another friend’s house that he grew up in was destroyed. The Home Depot on Forest that was destroyed is right next to where my wife, Denise, works at Presbyterian Village North. Fortunately every one is alright. There were no deaths related to the storm, and I am thankful.
Still, when a storm hits so close to home, it does something to you. You feel robbed of something special, like a thief walked in and took one of your cherished things from you. It hurts and leaves you a little empty inside. This is where the community of faith can turn the tide. When someone has been hurt or feels rejected or threatened, the offerings of other people can be a Godsend. In the case of the tornadoes, it has been all the outreach of those I know to make sure others are alright. The past couple of days have been a flurry of making sure people are ok and safe. It is a hopeful sign of our true selves, reminding us all that, deep down, we aren’t the ogres we think we are and are, in fact, good souls who love and care for one another. I can’t help but think of it as a gift of God.
Published on 10/21/2019 @ 7:47 PM CDT