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
Do you want to know what changes it for me, though? Simply this: we are in it together. That’s it. We are in it together. That one truth reminds me that this is not some church giving competition where the highest bidder gets the prize. It’s not a Ted Talk where I’m simply trying to get my angle out to the masses. This is us: you, and me, and Jesus. We are in it together, and because we are in it together, I can relax and talk to you about money and giving. I can do so believing that, like the vine is to the branches, Jesus is present in the relationship, that our giving together not only glorifies God by allowing the church to see another wonderful hope-filled year of ministry. We’re in it together. How great is that?
Published on 10/15/2018 @ 8:57 PM CDT
Published on 10/08/2018 @ 10:36 PM CDT
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
As I watched the events of last week unfold, I found myself wanting something to happen that everyone could agree on. It was a naïve thought. There was not nor will there likely be agreement. All I saw instead was pain, pain on all fronts. It was everywhere. My heart breaks because of it.
I believe God is with us when we suffer and are in pain. No one captures that theological truth about the presence of God better than the psalmist. “Even in the darkest valley, you are with me.” Where there is pain, God is also, even when we struggle to see it. I believe that.
As a pastor who cares deeply about people, my earnest hope is for you to know that, if you have been abused, you do not have to remain silent. Come to the church. I hope you can find the momentary courage to share it with someone you trust who will not question it. Come to the church. I know I speak for myself and Chris and Ellen and the staff when I say that our doors are wide open. We will listen and pray and get help and make sure you know how treasured you are in the eyes of God.
I have many hopes in all of this, but the one thing I hope for most is that people don’t feel silenced because of it, believing they have no safety in voicing what has happened to them. If that person is you, hear me when I say this. We are here. We are all ears. You are not alone. You can come to the church.
Published on 10/01/2018 @ 8:16 PM CDT
But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
What makes us family? This is the question Ruth is presented with in her story. She married into a family, but then her husband died. Naomi, Ruth’s mother in law, told her that she could go back home. “Go back to your mother’s house,” she said. “No,” replied Ruth, “My family is here.” What makes us family?
For Christians, the idea of family goes beyond the group we are born into and are raised in. This part of family is an important one for sure, but when we are baptized, we are welcomed into a larger family defined specifically by the love of Christ.
On Sunday afternoon, people from the wider family came together at Canyon Creek to be part of Chris Lee’s installation as associate pastor. They came from all over, including many pastors and elders and members from other churches. The music was broad, from traditional hymns led by our organist, Jordan DeRouen, to old gospel music sung by Brandy Lee and her mother Donna Allen, to more recent music sung by Kelly Vaughn and his wife Stefanie Tapley, all representing the different flavors of different parts of the family.
One connection that was not made obvious in the service was our guest preacher, Dr. Tom Currie. Tom served as dean of Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Charlotte location where Chris took classes. Chris and Tom liked each other right away. Seeing Tom again was particularly special for me, though, because he was also my grandparents pastor in Kerrville, Texas before going to Charlotte. The last time I heard him preach was at my grandfather’s funeral.
I sat there in the service looking out at family, people who, like Ruth infers in her reply to Naomi, are brought together by a connection beyond bloodlines and fondness. I sat there in deep gratitude for the love of God in Jesus Christ that makes us sisters and brothers. We are family.
Published on 09/25/2018 @ 8:18 AM CDT
Every now and again everything merges into one, and light rolls over the edge of it. Cherish those moments when you are given them, for they are speaking to you.
Published on 09/17/2018 @ 8:24 PM CDT