Reflections on Faith

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


10/31/2017 8:21 AM

An Interesting Observation

10/31/2017 8:21 AM
10/31/2017 8:21 AM
We are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10)
Last week we kicked of the 2018 Stewardship Campaign “Transform Your Giving” with the first of three videos where we asked church members to talk about their experience around giving. What memories of childhood do they have? What things do they practice in their life? One of the fun things to watch is how eager people are to talk about a childhood memory of giving or about a time when they either gave or received something that clearly made a difference. It is not difficult to get people to talk about that stuff.
Another thing we do during a stewardship campaign is have a table out in the Atrium of the church. We stock it with information, a viewing of the latest video, a laptop for people to go online and make their commitment, and a friendly member of the stewardship team. People avoid this table like the plague. It is almost comical. On Sunday I noticed a significant distance between the table and the crowd gathering between worship services. This year we even added giving kits for children and announced that in worship to spur interest in simply stopping by. No takers. Not one.
Ask someone to talk about their memories of giving when they were little, and they can’t wait to tell you about it. Ask someone to talk about what they feel led to give today, and they avoid you like a snake oil salesman peddling the latest elixir. Taboo subjects have a very powerful hold on us, don’t they?
10/23/2017 7:00 PM

A Bold Act of Faith

10/23/2017 7:00 PM
10/23/2017 7:00 PM
This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. (Exodus 12:14)
This verse from Exodus refers to the Passover, the occasion that marks the beginning of the forming identity of the Jewish people. Every year they remember it as a celebration of their heritage. We celebrate it also, connecting it to Jesus Christ and the Last Supper with his disciples. On Sunday we celebrated a different heritage. We pulled out all the stops, dusted off the bagpipes, pulled on our kilts, and joined together in a service called the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans. It honors the Scottish heritage of the Presbyterian Church that dates all the way back to the 1500s when John Knox preached in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.
What I love most about the service is not the pomp and circumstance or the high church feel or the liturgical order, though those things are impressive. What strikes me about it is what it represents. Kirk is a Scottish word meaning church. Kirkin' (or churchin') is the act of blessing. Tartan is the woven fabric adopted to represent each Scottish clan. Put together, you have a blessing for the families. The service itself is not just about particular families or people, but all families. It is meant to honor the heritage we all bring when we come together. That is what struck me.

As we gathered together in the church, people of all ages helped bring in the tartans that represent families of all kinds. We then asked God’s blessing on us all. In a sense, we stood straight up in the midst of a world that would steal away the heart of us and claimed the unity of God’s family in Jesus Christ. We claimed the high calling of being together, and that is a bold act of faith.

10/10/2017 1:48 PM

The Anchor

10/10/2017 1:48 PM
10/10/2017 1:48 PM
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)
I grew up going to worship. Every week my family would pile into the car and head to church. It is a practice that I kept up into adulthood right up until I went to seminary and accepted the call of being a pastor. Throughout my life, worship has played a central role in shaping who I am and what my faith looks like.
Early on I can easily say that I was not thrilled to attend church on Sunday. In my family, though, not going was not an option. So, even though I wasn’t all that happy, I went. I had to. My mother was bigger than me. As a teenager I began to appreciate worship more, though I didn’t always understand it. Sill, my friends and I would sometimes devise plans for making it look like we were in church, while actually doing something else. In college, I went less frequently, but I still went. I found a local church where one of the pastors was an old family friend who greeted me with a smile when he saw me. When I showed up, being in worship felt a lot like greeting an old friend that you hadn’t seen lately.
I’m now officially a middle-aged adult. Life is pulling at me from all ends. To say that I have any measure of control is laughable. Worship now feels like respite to me, something that I not only long for, but desperately need. In worship I am given time away from the crazy polarized unfair world in order to rest firmly and securely in God’s great big hands of love. Worship keeps me sane.
Through each stage of my life, worship has served as anchor. It has been there whether I wanted it to be or not. More importantly, though, it continues to be there when I need it the most. May the same be true for you.
10/03/2017 7:58 AM

You Never Know

10/03/2017 7:58 AM
10/03/2017 7:58 AM
I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me
and I am in you. (John 17:21, CEB)
Las Vegas. I don’t need to say anything else. The news tells it all, so many people, so much pain and heartache and death, all caused by one person who, for reasons that cannot be explained or reconciled, decided to pull the trigger. Our world is enduring a time of crisis and separation and hardship, a time when despicable things happen that are beyond our understanding. It knocks the wind out of all of us. God weeps just as we do. Jesus prays just as we do. And the Holy Spirit abides with us, but nowhere more closely than with the families whose lives have been upended.
In a complete contrast, on Friday I attended a fundraiser lunch called Each Moment Matters benefitting Faith Presbyterian Hospice. Each year at this luncheon, people are recognized for making each moment matter, for making a difference. One of the recipients this year was noted for how he reaches out to everyone he comes across. The story they shared was about how he helped invest in a young man who walked up to his car on the street one day and offered to wash it for a small price. He let him, but he also began helping fund what became an entire mobile car washing business. It changed that young man’s life forever.

I say this often, and we need to keep hearing it. You never know when you will run across someone who is in such a dark place that they are considering doing something horrific. A generous act of compassion from you, even something as small as a single word of hope, has the power to completely change the course of another life. Each moment really does matter, because you never know when God will use who you are to pour grace into the heart of someone else and change the world.

09/25/2017 7:30 PM

The Shepherd

09/25/2017 7:30 PM
09/25/2017 7:30 PM
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.
And I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:14-15)
I would like to share a story with you today about a long-time family friend of mine named John Logan who died on labor day and who’s service I had the privilege of being part of.
Later in his life, John met a man by the name of Ron (not his real name). Ron was physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially challenged, and he happened to walk into First Presbyterian Church in downtown Dallas one Sunday morning, long after the service had started. He was carrying a backpack and was jingling with all these keys he had dangling from his belt. No home, no family; everything he owned he carried with him. When the offering plate came by, Ron would often take something out instead of put something in. But on that particular Sunday, he ran into John Logan.
“Here,” John said to him, “Let me keep your keys and your backpack for you.” That became their routine. Ron would walk in, and John would host him by taking care of his things. Then John gave Ron his number and helped him get a place to live. Ron started calling him five or six times a day. John visited him in jail when he got in trouble and bailed him out more than once. John tried to teach Ron right from wrong. One time Ron called after being admitted to the ER and said, “I’m going to walk home.”
“No,” said John, “I’ll come get you.” Ron started walking home anyway, and, of course, got lost. John got him on the phone again and said to him, “Where are you? What corner are you on? Tell me the street signs near you.” He could tell that Ron was looking around, and finally, like a kid who had just successfully completed an assignment, Ron found the first two signs he could and said to him, “I’m on the corner of Load and Unload.”
Like a shepherd looking for the lost sheep, or the father welcoming the prodigal son home, John Logan took Ron into his life, like you would family, and never let him go. This world could always use a few more shepherds.

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