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

02/19/2019 7:54 AM

What a Sunday!

02/19/2019 7:54 AM
02/19/2019 7:54 AM
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)
 
On Sunday, our youth led us in worship and did an absolutely wonderful job. God was glorified. One of the things Youth Sunday always does is give me hope for the future. Canyon Creek is blessed with incredible young people. They are authentic, genuine, faithful, caring people who clearly feel called to make the world a better place and who understand what belong to Christ together means. Our preachers: Blake Seutter, Taylor Laredo, Ramsey El-Shahawy, and Emma Webb shared a word from God with us that touched us all. I am so proud of the youth.
 
And then, if Sunday morning wasn’t enough all by itself, we gathered again that afternoon with Grace Presbytery for the installation of The Rev. Ellen Dittman. It was a moment that has been long in coming and was truly a joy-filled service of worship. One of the highlights, of course, was to welcome The Rev. Dr. Stacy Ikard as our preacher. It was simply a wonderful day.
 
In every way, Sunday reminded me of the gift of church. The church as the body of Christ is a people made up of many generations, friends from far and near, and those who have gone before us. Sunday held experiences of each of those elements that make up the church. I found myself thanking God for the wonderful gift of people, followers of Christ who remind us all that we are not alone.
02/12/2019 2:55 PM

Be Thou My Vision

02/12/2019 2:55 PM
02/12/2019 2:55 PM

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

I thought I would take a moment and catch you up on where the Session is in the work they have been doing on creating a descriptive for the identity of CCPC. They have been going through a process of discernment, prayer, and sharing on who we are as a church for a while now. Our series on the purple church was, and still is, part of this discussion.

The fact of the matter is that we are not the same church we used to be. A church will often realize this numerous times throughout its life. Churches change because churches are organic entities. Biblically speaking, one would describe the church as alive, which is why people like Paul use the image of a body to describe the church. We are the body of Christ, not the Christ in the tomb, but the resurrected Christ alive in the world. Throughout life, how the church defines itself will therefore change. We are in a time like that.

At the end of 2018, the Session completed what might be called the “organic” part of the process where we provided input to help clarify Canyon Creek’s identity. Now a smaller group from the Session is taking all of that “data”, is also seeking additional input from individual members, and is seeking God’s guidance in returning to the Session with a recommendation for what we hope will become a defining statement of this church that will help carry us through this next season of life together. It is a daunting, exciting, humbling, deeply spiritual thing they are doing.

My thought to you is to be praying for this part of the work. Join me in asking God to continue being the vision of this church. “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.”

01/31/2019 5:49 PM

Making Plans

01/31/2019 5:49 PM
01/31/2019 5:49 PM
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11)
 
Are you a planner? Even if you aren’t, you have to admit that having a plan often helps in life. Last week the church staff spent all morning planning out the calendar through the end of this year. In a couple of weeks we will sit down again to brainstorm major things for the first half of 2020. We have learned to plan ahead.
 
When we first attempted it, the exercise seemed somewhat daunting. “Why do we need to plan that far out?” we thought. “Too many things change between now and then,” we would say. But let me tell you, once we got used to it, we found that our anxiety went down. We are all much calmer knowing there is a plan and that we now get to enjoy living out the details. It has actually changed the way we work and how much we feel we are capable of accomplishing.
 
When the Israelite people were living in Babylon in exile from Jerusalem, God tells them, “I have plans for you, plans for your welfare, plans to give you a future with hope.” It was meant to give them assurance, and it continues to assure us even today. We can be assured that God has planned far into the future, way beyond what we think possible. We can rest easy knowing that God has us in mind when mapping out all that is to be. The plans we make are but a small glimpse into the life of God whose eternal plans include reach way beyond our ability to comprehend. God includes us in the plan, and we get the joy of faithfully living out the details.
01/21/2019 7:05 PM

Saving the Best

01/21/2019 7:05 PM
01/21/2019 7:05 PM

“Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10)

This is a quote from the wedding at Cana, the story we talked about on Sunday. Going to the wedding was, for John at least, the first stop Jesus made as he began his ministry. In the story, the mother of Jesus (John never says Mary) did her “mom” thing and got Jesus to do something about the fact that they had run out of wine. Jesus conceded by turning water into wine. As John tells it, no one knew where this new wine had come from, hence the comment from the steward. The only ones who knew were the servants and the disciples. The story ends by stating that the disciples believed in him.

On Sunday, we talked about how Jesus brought new life to this party, a sign of the new life he ultimately brings to us. Another way to listen to the story, though, is to focus on the wine itself, with the steward’s comment serving as a foreshadowing of the cross. The good wine being served when we think the party is over points us to Jesus giving us his very best on the cross when we think his life is over.

It may help to tell you that the amount of wine Jesus made was way more than the people could possibly consume. They had already drunk plenty of wine, and now they have more than they could finish. We have already been living life, but on the cross and through the empty tomb, Jesus offers us more life than we could ever live. It is God’s absolute best, abundant grace that can never be fully consumed and will always fill us to overflowing. Not everyone knows this, but we do. In Jesus Christ, God saves his very best for last. Like the disciples in the story, may we find ourselves believing too.

01/15/2019 7:28 AM

He Was Praying

01/15/2019 7:28 AM
01/15/2019 7:28 AM
"When Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove." (Luke 3:21)
 
On Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of our Lord when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. We used the version found in Luke’s gospel, which has a number of unique things about it. We talked about one of them on Sunday where Luke seems to have Jesus simply stand in line like all the others who had gone out that day. We discussed how, by telling the story of Jesus’s baptism in this way, Luke is pointing us to a God who not only becomes one of us, but is willing to stand in line with us, right alongside us.
 
Another unique thing about the Lukan version is the addition of prayer. No other gospel has Jesus praying here. For Luke, it is the beginning of numerous accounts of Jesus praying. He prays before he calls the disciples. He prays in the story of his transfiguration. He prays on the night he is arrested and at his death, just to mention a few. Prayer is particularly important for Luke, as it is for all of us.
 
At 7:00 pm tonight, the Session will be deciding whether or not to officially move forward with the capital campaign. Say a prayer for them. The elders who serve on this council are wonderfully dedicated, faithful, and genuine. Together this evening, we will seek God’s guidance for this particular moment in the church. Join them in prayer. May God bless our church family with life, and life abundant.

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Join us for worship this Sunday at 9:00am or 11:05am.
May 31 - June 1, $400 through March 3. Later, $425, sign up at the table in the Atrium.
Join us on March 3rd for Hymn Fest at 9:00am and 11:05am.
Ash Wednesday service, March 6 at 6:30 pm, with communion and the Imposition of Ashes.