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

09/14/2019 9:34 PM

Uncle Ron

09/14/2019 9:34 PM
09/14/2019 9:34 PM

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

The other day, I thought of a story from my childhood that I shared with you in a sermon a few years back. I thought I might share it again here as some stories are worth repeating.

When I was growing up, my best friend had an uncle named Ron. We loved Uncle Ron. He was funny and crass and full of life. But one thing we learned quickly was that you did not want to upset him. We had seen how he got when he occasionally lost his temper, and we never wanted to be the recipients of what we saw, never.

One summer Uncle Ron asked us to wash his brand new Ford Bronco. He ordered the works, and we eagerly accepted. The day came for us to do the job, and we gave it our all: wash, wax, buff, the entire enchilada. And then it happened. Without thinking, my friend and I crawled on top of the truck to wax and buff the roof. Almost immediately the roof bent in leaving a huge dent that could not be hidden.

Who was going to tell Uncle Ron? Not me! You do it, you’re his nephew. No way! Should we tell him at all? I mean, he’s going to kill us, like really kill us. We finally decided to do it together. If we went together, maybe two of us would make it out alive. With shaky knees and quivering lips we entered Uncle Ron’s study to confess our mistake. There he sat behind his desk like Don Corleone in The Godfather. We were terrified. He listened to our confession, and without saying a word, he walked out to the truck to look at the roof.

“Where is it?” he asked.
“Right here,” we told him, pointing to what was completely obvious.
“I don’t see anything,” he replied. He then pulled out $40. “You did a fine job boys.”
A few weeks later, I noticed that the roof had been repaired.

Sometimes in this life as we stand there with shaky knees and quivering lips knowing that we are going to get the full brunt of all that is coming to us, we experience something different. We experience instead a glimpse of the unmerited unearned favor of God. It is more than just being forgiven for something you have done. It is grace.

09/09/2019 8:53 PM

Through God's Eyes

09/09/2019 8:53 PM
09/09/2019 8:53 PM

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)

This line from Matthew is something we say when we baptized a child. We typically start the whole thing off by asking all the children to come gather around the baptismal font. We ask them to look in, taking turns to make sure each child gets a chance to see in the font. “What do you see?” we ask. “Water,” they almost always say. “What else do you see?” we add. After a second or two, one of them inevitably chimes in and says, “Me!” From that moment on, they hopefully begin to see things a little differently.

One of the things I want children to know when they see a baby being baptized, or anyone for that matter, is that God loves them just as they are right now. It is an important foundational belief in our faith. God sees us and loves us as we are right this very second, with our warts, our wrongs, our misgivings, our fickleness, our hopes, our dreams, and whatever else you can put on the list.

Viewing yourself in our font is a reminder of what is seen through the eyes of God. It is my hope that part of your week involves trying to look at other people through those same eyes. Practice trying to look at the world through God colored glasses. Like the children who slowly realize the wealth of being loved by God without condition, you too might just begin to see things a little differently.

09/03/2019 7:26 AM

What a Sunday!

09/03/2019 7:26 AM
09/03/2019 7:26 AM

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:6)

Sunday was such a fun day. Our single service of worship was so exuberant, with music from our talented praise team and organist. We also welcomed our guests from the Ouachita Men’s Ensemble, a reunion group our Director of Music Ministries David Hays has been part of for many years. They were incredible!

And then we moved to the Tennent Hall to assemble bags of food for Kids Against Hunger, an organization that uses volunteers to assemble highly nutritious, vitamin-fortified soy-rice casserole meals and distribute them to starving children and their families in 70 countries through partnerships with humanitarian organizations worldwide. I am told that together we assembled 26,400 packages, each of which contains 6 servings. That means we provided a meal for 158,400 people. What a Sunday it was. I am so grateful to everyone who was able to stay and be part of this unique project. I also want to extend a special thank you to Bill Severin, who made this day possible through the use of the memorial for his wife, Susie Severin. I can’t think of a better use for it.

This coming Sunday, we will be talking about labels. As you walk through this week, pay attention to the labels we use and how we use them. When do they help? When do they hurt? I look forward to seeing you as we discuss the one label that is truly worth having. See you Sunday!

08/26/2019 10:48 PM

Being Blessed

08/26/2019 10:48 PM
08/26/2019 10:48 PM

May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 115:15)

This coming Sunday is ONE SERVICE Sunday, so don’t forget that we are having ONE WORSHIP SERVICE at 10:30am, followed by ONE SERVICE PROJECT in Tennent Hall benefiting Kids Against Hunger.

During worship, we will be talking about blessing. We use that word a lot in church. “We are blessed,” we say, or, “They sure are blessed.” What do we mean when we say it? On the surface of it, I think we assume we mean that they are blessed with something, like money or health. But do we really think that those things just randomly come to some as blessings but not to others? Perhaps blessing means something else entirely. Perhaps it has a deep and holy meaning that tends to slip by us. Perhaps God means something quite special with that word.

As you walk through this week, keep the word blessing with you. Ask yourself what you mean if you find yourself using it. What do you hear when someone else uses it? Spend the week with it so that you might come to church Sunday morning ready to both be blessed and become a blessing. I look forward to seeing you.

08/19/2019 7:24 PM

Back in the Saddle

08/19/2019 7:24 PM
08/19/2019 7:24 PM
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39)

I’m back! I have certainly missed you all. I won’t go into all the details of my sabbatical here, but I can easily say that I have become a fan. The entire time, one thing that kept crossing my mind was how this time away was not something that was earned. In no way did I earn my sabbatical. No, it was given, and I am eternally grateful to you and to God for giving it. You are wonderful. I relaxed, travelled, prayed, enjoyed family, read books, worshiped in other churches, and experienced times of silence. Basically, I entered a different pace of life, and it was great. I feel as if I received something of what the people in the gospels were given when they spent time with Jesus. They always walked away from that time feeling as if God had just given them a precious gift. That is how I feel, and I thank you.

My next thought is that I want to see you this Sunday. I’ve missed you all, so I hope to see you with us. It’s going to be a fun day as we kick off our ministries. In worship, we’re going to hear the story of the call of Jeremiah and talk about finding your voice. We’re going to ask questions like, “How do you talk about your faith? Do you struggle to talk about it? Are you still trying to find your voice?” We all wonder at times about how to talk about our faith since it is such a personal thing. There is perhaps nothing more personal than the uniqueness of our belief. Have you found the unique voice of your own faith? I look forward to being with you and exploring that together.

See you Sunday!

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