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
Pastor


 

04/10/2017 7:04 PM

In the Garden

04/10/2017 7:04 PM
04/10/2017 7:04 PM

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matthew 26:36,39)

One of the truly poignant moments during our recent trip to Jerusalem had to have been the day we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. It sits just across from the outside of the city wall. While there, our group was given ample time to walk around the grove of trees and think about the importance of this place. We were told that, although the trees themselves have grown and regrown, some of the roots may well have been there in Jesus time. Here’s what caught me about being there, though. It wasn’t the fact that Jesus knelt in this same spot years ago or the thought that this is where they came to arrest him. What caught my attention was the loud noise of the cars.

Right next to the garden, just a few feet away, is a modern street filled with cars racing to their destinations. It was quite odd to stand there looking at this ancient site right in front of me while the hum of revving engines and the smell of exhaust filled the air right behind me. There in the place where Jesus expressed those prayerful human words, "Father, take this yoke from me, though not my will but yours be done," there, even today, the realities of the world continue to encroach on and crowd out the holy sound of God. That’s what caught me.

04/03/2017 9:29 PM

Healing Hands

04/03/2017 9:29 PM
04/03/2017 9:29 PM

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)

I recently read about a gallery in Taos, New Mexico by photographer Lenny Foster. In it there is a showcase called the Healing Hands project. It is a collection of photographs of people’s hands, all kinds of people, all kinds of hands. Some of them are cracked and rough, others soft and supple. There are clean hands, dirty hands, large hands, small hands. Stacy Smith, former editor of Church Health Reader and a personal friend of mine, interviewed Foster about the project.

“You seem to find healing hands everywhere,” she said, “from Senegal to Roman Catholic healers to a little girl at the store. How do you spot healing hands?”

“All of us have them,” he replied, “you in what you do, me in what I do. I think the project helps people to recognize that in ourselves and in others. What really interests me, though, is the people who come to the gallery. I get people from academia to traditional healers to just every day folk. [They all seem to] sense the spirit in the different images. That’s the one thing – no matter what our backgrounds are, we can all understand and come together in healing.”

I haven’t been to the gallery, but just from the pictures in the magazine, I feel a tug on my heart to go. I think it would be moving to see so many different hands in one place, all holding on in some way, all grasping for something full and whole, all healing. Whether I go or not, it reminds of the hands of people around us. Take some time to notice what they are up to, their hands, my hands, your hands, hard at work. Look at them. Take a long hard look, for in them, and this is true, in them reside the healing hands of Christ.

03/24/2017 10:53 AM

Jesus Chose to Do It

03/24/2017 10:53 AM
03/24/2017 10:53 AM

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41)

These words follow the famous Palm Sunday passage when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. He sent two of his disciples ahead to fetch a colt for him, the palms waved, and then he wept over the city. A church now stands in the place where it is believed Jesus wept, crying out to a God who had long been burdened by a people at odds with one another. While sitting in that church on my recent trip, I sensed a heaviness that still hangs in the air, almost as if Jesus still weeps there today and will continue to weep until we stop killing one another. It reminded me of what author Danielle Shroyer wrote when she visited the same spot, “In the same way that Moses could not experience the fullness of God’s glory, here we are reminded that we cannot experience the fullness of God’s pain.”

It was rainy and cold on the day our group visited. My fingers went numb for about an hour. There I was, standing in the place where Jesus stood, and all I was thinking about was when will it stop raining? When will we be done and be able to get warm? When will I feel my hands again? I lasted 5 min in the rain. Jesus endured suffering beyond compare. He chose to do it, weeping and suffering for a world that was as equally divided and violent then as it is now. He did not turn aside or complain. He did not shy away from it. He experienced the fullness of God’s pain for us, and in those moments, revealed the fullness of God’s glory.

03/20/2017 7:18 PM

Seeing Jesus

03/20/2017 7:18 PM
03/20/2017 7:18 PM

When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. (Matthew 8:14-15)

On the second day of Canyon Creek’s recent trip to Israel and Jordan, we found ourselves in Capernaum. This is the place where Jesus basically made his base of operations and stayed when he was not travelling. He would usually bunk in Peter’s house. Today all that is left of Capernaum are the vestiges of the former city. They have excavated a number of walls and remains of homes, which helps give tourists an understanding of how things were laid out. They have located where the synagogue was and rebuilt it some. They have also located what is believed to be Peter’s house. No one can be sure, of course, but the chances are good.

Standing there in the midst of the ruins, one can’t help but visualize the activity that once occupied this space. There is a spiritual feel that hangs in the air, giving you the surreal sense that it was only yesterday when Jesus walked the same ground you are standing on right now. Looking at Peter’s house, I could see Jesus coming and going. I could see Peter’s mother-in-law serving him after he touched her hand. I could see the disciples bringing others in off the street to be healed by him. For a few fleeting moments that came in spurts, I could see it.

We often use the phrase "seeing is believing". In this case, I would say that seeing is experiencing. To visualize Christ in your midst is to experience the presence of God, and you don’t have to go all the way to Capernaum for that to happen.

03/13/2017 6:30 PM

Community Matters

03/13/2017 6:30 PM
03/13/2017 6:30 PM
 
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

On Sunday we continued our series on healing. One of the things we talked about was how community can counter the hopelessness we often feel around the problems in our lives: weight, disease, crises of faith, relationships. Dr. Scott Morris, founder of Church Health in Memphis, speaks of the benefits of community, "One of the things we know about health is that community matters. People do not generally become healthier in isolation. Community, however, removes hopelessness [around those] aspects of life that get in the way of positive choices. True health is not just the absence of disease. It is embracing the goodness of the life God gives." The passage above from Psalm 63 like the feeling of isolation to being in a dry and weary land where there is no water. We don't do well in isolation. Community matters.

I would like to point you to some opportunities that are right around the corner to experience and benefit from deeper community. One thing I always hear from those who finally decide to do what it takes to attend one of these retreats is they wish they had done it sooner. Give some thought to deepening your faith in Christ and being part of community.

Women's Retreat (March 24-26, 2017) - a restful weekend at Mt. Lebanon Retreat Center with women of all ages from CCPC. Make new friends, walk in nature, and share in the "Stories that Heal."

Pilgrimage Weekend (March 30 - April 2, 2017) - a three day weekend retreat filled with short talks, music, fellowship, small group discussion and joyful experiences. Pilgrimage is about living the Christian life every day, no matter where you are. It is not just about a weekend - it is intended to last a lifetime.
 
Holy Heroes and Wholeness (April 8, 2017, 9am-3pm) - A mini-retreat at Spring Hill Retreat Center in Richardson, where we will learn our personality and those of major biblical figures (archetypes), and our journey towards wholeness. Led by spiritual director Troy Caldwell and storyteller Gwen Caldwell.
 
Men's Conference (May 5-7, 2017) - a God-filled weekend in the Texas Hill Country at Mo-Ranch when men from all ages and many churches gather together for fellowship and spiritual renewal. This year's speaker is The Rev. Dr. Blair Monie, Professor in The Louis H. and Katherine S. Zbinden Distinguished Chair of Pastoral Ministry and Leadership at Austin Seminary and former senior pastor of Preston Hollow Presbyterian in Dallas.

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