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
Pastor

12/09/2019 10:23 AM

Christmas Done Right

12/09/2019 10:23 AM
12/09/2019 10:23 AM

Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:5-6)

On Sunday we looked at a question Dietrich Bonhoeffer once asked, “Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly?” I love that question. I love it because it gets at the heart of how we typically view Christmas. We often think of it as an event that we are somehow responsible for and, therefore, must get right. One of our first thoughts is to ask how we’re going to do it this year. How will we do Christmas? Will we do it correctly this time? Will we get it right? It’s as if we have this picture in our head that unless certain things happen a certain way, like the decorations or the gifts we find or the gatherings we put together, it won’t be done “right.”

Of course, that is not what Christmas is about. It is not something we have to get right or do correctly or incorrectly. Christmas instead is the gift of life in all its wonders and warts, all its miracles and mishaps. Christmas is the highness of God born in the lowness of a manger. Christmas is nothing short of the fullness of God in Jesus Christ.

So, who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Bonhoeffer answers that question when he says, “Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger. Whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high.” My prayer this year is that we stop trying to “get Christmas right” and simply sit in those quiet moments when you find them and invite Christ to come. May the hills of our worry be made low. May the crooked paths of our thinking be made straight. May Christ come this Christmas.

12/03/2019 7:47 AM

The Jesus Paradox

12/03/2019 7:47 AM
12/03/2019 7:47 AM

God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:27-28)

The Jesus paradox is a phrase Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr used to title his recent blog. In it, Rohr talks about how Western Christianity tends to only think in dualisms and how that is slowly starting to change. He goes on to mention how mystics have historically recognized the power of Christ to overcome “dualisms, dichotomies, and divisions.”

On Sunday, we began a brief series for Advent titled “The Messiah We Get.” In it we are lifting up the paradoxical nature of Christ and how he embodies a reality that does not seem possible, being both God and human at once. As Rohr puts it, there is a “dynamic unity between seeming opposites” that gets lost on us in our dualistic thinking.

As we anticipate a birth yet again this Advent, may our faith open us up to the much larger reality of a Christ who is human and divine, heavenly and earthly, all at one time. If there is anything that can pull us out of thinking that opposites simply cannot co-exist and that things must be one way or another, it is Jesus Christ. This is the Messiah we get.

11/25/2019 4:09 PM

A Thankful Pause

11/25/2019 4:09 PM
11/25/2019 4:09 PM
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)
 
I am privileged to be one of the guest ministers for Dial Hope, “a 24-hour global telephone and internet ministry providing daily faith-based, non-denominational messages of encouragement, inspiration, and care.” It is headed up by a friend of mine, Joe Albright, a pastor in Florida. For yesterday’s message, Joe lifted up the author of the well-known hymn Now Thank We All Our God. Here is what he said:
 
In the 1600’s, Martin Rinkert served as a pastor in the small town of Eilenburg Ger-many. In 1617 - not long after taking the post of Archdeacon, the Thirty-Years-War broke out, and his town was caught up in the fighting. In the midst of that war, the black plague swept across Europe and in 1617 hit his town hard. Over 8,000 people lost their lives and Rinkert had to bury many of them - including his own wife. Over the course of his 32 years of ministry, he experienced great violence and heartbreaking loss. Yet, in the midst of all of this, he penned the words to the inspiring hymn:
Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices.
Who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
 
So often we look out at our world today and scoff at what we see, wondering how in the world it has all come to this. But Rinkert reminds us, from an experience easily more harsh and cruel than our own, that God’s faithfulness runs deeper than all of the circumstances of the day. May you pause this week and give thanks for the God “who from our mother’s arms has blessed us on our way, with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.”
 
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.
11/18/2019 7:59 PM

Jesus the King

11/18/2019 7:59 PM
11/18/2019 7:59 PM

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!

11/11/2019 7:23 PM

Something About It

11/11/2019 7:23 PM
11/11/2019 7:23 PM

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

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Sunday, December 15, 5:00 pm. RSVP today!
Special Music each Sunday of Advent.
Building Relationships Wherever We Go.Commitment Sunday November 10.
One service Dec 29 at 10:30am. No Sunday School.