As we continue to settle in at home and to find our routines I find myself increasingly grateful to be back home in KS and to be living here in the Kansas City area.
Last Saturday Heather’s grandma and grandpa came to see us for lunch. Heather’s mom and step-dad as well as some of his family joined us and we all had a nice meal together.
Tuesday evening I preached here at Resurrection and my mom was able to swing up after work to be in worhsip. We then grabbed a nice dinner together and had great conversation. My friends Matt and Kendra were also able to be in worship, for which I was grateful.
Last night we had dinner with some new friends who have recently moved back to KS from the Chicago area. It was great to be in their home and to share good food and good fellowship.
In addition to being closer to our families, enjoying our new home, and connecting with wonderful people, apparently Forbes thinks we’re living in a good place as well. Check out #3 on the list.
I was in the chapel yesterday afternoon, getting things set for worship, and ran into a guy who had attended Resurrection in the past and had just stopped by for a visit. As we chatted he learned that Heather and I were expecting our first in November and he offered me his three best pieces of advice for being a dad.
- Never ask any questions
- Always Drive
- Make sure there is enough money in the checking account to cover all of the checks written, even the ones you didn’t know about.
I’m not quite sure where he was going with all of these, but he spoke with a great sense of conviction and it made me think, what other advice should I be hearing? So, I’m asking for it – any parenting advice you want to throw my way, go ahead and hang it on this thread…
We had a great party on Friday night with lots of great friends from various stages of our lives. One I’ve known since preschool. Another I had just met on Monday. Heather goes into a little more detail and gives a virtual tour of the new house if you’re interested.
I wrote earlier in the weekend about Becca Stevens of Thistle Farms and her time at Resurrection. The video of her sermon from Sunday night is now up online, I highly recommend giving it a listen.
This last Sunday morning I helped lead worship and lead the congregation in prayer. Below is the pastoral prayer that I used:
God of all creation, we are grateful for your love that has called us here. It has been remarkably hot these last days and weeks, sometimes almost stifling so. Our bodies are weary and we can see the effects of the heat in so much of your creation. Yet in the midst of it all, we know that you are at work. We know that the heat and the sun are an integral part of bringing food to our tables and nourishment to our bodies – and we are grateful. And we are especially grateful for the rains that fell last night bringing refreshing and renewal to our world. We are grateful too for all of the ways in which your love and your spirit provide nourishment for our souls. And so we take a moment now, to lift up our prayers and give you thanks for all of those ways in which you have provided nourishment to our bodies and souls…
<pray in silence>
We are grateful God, for all of the lessons that we can learn from your creation. We are grateful for your love that surrounds us, no matter what – from the rising to the setting of the sun. We are grateful for opportunities to serve you by sharing the gifts you have given to us. We are grateful for your beauty that surrounds us in all of your creation, even in those places where it sometimes seems hidden.
For your love and for all of the gifts you’ve given us, we are thankful. And though we have at times failed to live as the people you would have us be, we trust that your love endures. And as a sign of that trust, and as a sign of our commitment to follow your way, we lift our voices now and pray as Jesus taught his disciples to pray…
Before this last weekend I wasn’t at all familiar with Ken Medema. I was incredibly blessed to spend time in worship with him throughout the course of the weekend and to attend a concert that he held at Resurrection on Sunday evening.
Ken was born blind, but has an incredible musical gift – he composes and improvises beautiful and moving songs on the spot. In worship this weekend he wrote songs and sang them immediately following baptisms and the sermon. The songs after the baptisms were personalized with the name of the infant being baptized as well as themes from the service. They were incredibly moving and I really can’t even begin to imagine how he does it.
Heather had some conversation with Ken after worship on Saturday night and as she relayed his story to me I was especially struck by a particular part of it. When he was a young boy Ken had a piano teacher who recognized his gifts early on. This teacher taught him to improvise in a variety of styles, helped him learn how to read music in braille, and encouraged him to cultivate his gift through practice and by stretching himself.
There is no doubt that Ken was born with incredible gifts, but I am also confident that this teacher’s encouragement is in large part responsible for his success today. Again, I think it is of the utmost importance that we continue to offer support and encouragement to all who we encounter. It is possible that doing so will help people become who God has created them to be as well as cultivate leaders in the faith for coming generations.
I have known Mickey since I was in preschool, he’s my good friend Andy‘s dad. Since he began blogging, I have enjoyed reading his thoughts on running and life, but was particularly struck this morning by his words on support and encouragement.
We all have opportunities to lift one another up like this daily, be it our friends, our co-workers, or random people we encounter in life. All too often though, it seems to me that we miss opportunities to offer others support or encouragement because we’re too consumed by our own worries, by insecurities, by our competitive nature, by all of that junk that we let separate us from one another.
As I think about it, trash collectors honking at and cheering for runners as they train in the morning, it’s a small glimpse of the kingdom of God.
It is getting late (for me on a Saturday night anyway) and I should get to bed, but I just can’t stop thinking about Rev. Becca Stevens and Thistle Farms.
Becca is our guest preacher @ Resurrection this weekend and it was a blessing to lead worship with her tonight. She shared with us parts of the story of Magdalene House and Thistle Farms, two organizations she has founded that work to support women who have been entrapped in prostitution and drugs. The thistle has come to be a powerful metaphor for the work Becca is doing and I love this quotation…
To me, being a thistle farmer means that the world is our farm, and our job is to see the beauty in the areas that have been abandoned or deemed unworthy of cultivating. Our fields include allies, lots behind malls, railway clearings, and the poorest sections of town. When we harvest a thistle it means that we still see the beauty in all of creation, and that nothing should be left to be condemned.
A coworker approached me the other day and had, she said, a question about the Bible. ”Where is the story about Jesus telling people to shake the dust off of their feet when they’re not accepted in a town?”
In my mind I immediately thought, I think that’s somewhere in Luke…
And before I could say anything my coworker continued, “I think Jesus was saying it to Paul.”
I cringed a little bit on the inside. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t say anything to Paul, except for Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ. Before I had a chance to say anything she continued, “I want to say it’s in the Old Testament.”
Wow, I was really stumped with this one – was there even an appropriate way to respond?!
So I simply said, you know often when I’m looking for a reference like this I use google. I opened the browser on my computer, typed “Jesus shake dust off feet” into the search field and hit enter.
Sure enough, up popped Luke 9:1-5.
This exchange reminded me of one of my very first days as a student pastor at Whiting UMC. It was Vacation Bible School week and the director asked me to participate in a skit that helped tell the story of Jonah. During the skit we conversed back and forth about the story and she kept pushing me and pushing me for one more level of detail – “what did God want Jonah to go and tell the people?” I kept answering, God’s love, God’s forgiveness, the plans that God had for them… I could tell she was getting increasingly frustrated as I wasn’t giving the “right” answer. Finally she turned to the kids and their families and exclaimed, “God wanted Jonah to go and teach them about JESUS!”
Clearly there remains much work to be done when it comes to increasing biblical literacy in our churches…