Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taking ON our challenges

As a semi-psychology buff, I have always been drawn to Erik Erikson's stages of development chart.  I have found that when put in the light of the "church" this chart can explain a lot of our behaviors.  One of his stages is "role confusion vs. identity"  This stage is one that churches cycle through throughout their lifetimes. 
Every church should in fact live a cycle...constant transformation.  It is the churches who follow this that succeed and it is imperative that church do not stagnate.  Those that do get lost in Erikson's last stage Ego vs. Despair.  And you can tell from the name that several of our churches fall into the despair category.

Back though to identity vs. role confusion.  That is an important stage not only in development but also in our church life.  It is here that the church can take on its mission statement and create goals and it is success in this stage that leads us to becoming a church that can help ourselves and others create a lasting and strong relationship with Christ.  People want authentic church - places that feel comfortable and confident in who they are.

As we continue to embark on our journey of identity - who we are now that we are no longer in a yoke relationship, who we are now that we sustain a solo Pastor, who we are as the only church in Huron, who we are as our church family expands - let us not lose track of being real and authentic in order to successfully move to a better relationship with the Divine Creator.     

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Purpose Driven Chruch

In the Book Psalms Now, the editors take the Psalms and turn them into modern language.  This is not a translation but a transliteration - taking the "meaning" of the word in the context of the time / place it was used and replacing it with a modern term that coincides.  This way we are often getting the "gist" of how things were written.  I find this book and version of the Psalms to speak the truth of the Word often.  I would not however, consider them to be the Word but instead a good interpretive meditation.  This week I was reading Psalm 80 which happens to be lectionary and found it timely.   I am sharing it here.
O God, You are the Creator and Sustainer of Your church. You have protected and prospered your faithful followers throughout the stormy and tumultuous past. Today we are in trouble.  Listen to our cries of consternation, O God. We are confused and confounded.  We don’t know where to turn or in what direction to go.  We have prayer, O God. We have sung your praises.  We have proclaimed your love to the world.  But today our power is slipping away, our prestige is wearing thin. People seem to have little respect for us anymore.  Those who have been brought up within our structures and have embraced our doctrines are leaving the fold. They say we no longer meet their needs or the needs of the world.  You were with us in the beginning, Lord. You planted us in the midst of this world’s turmoil. You nurtured us and watched over us. Despite the enemies, we grew until we encircled the earth.  Great halls of worship were built in your honor, Lord.  Magnificent institutions were established to carry out your purposes. Men and women dedicated their lives to proclaim your teachings and multitudes gather to Praise.  But not today.  Walls are crumbling, sanctuaries no longer attract masses and people dedicate their lives to other purposes. Renew your church, O God.  We know you will never turn away those who come to you and will forever  sustain those who trust you.  Fan the dying embers, Lord. Stir us up and restore us to a position of power and effectiveness.  Give us new life and new vision so we may advance your Kingdom in our disjointed world.  Renew your church, O God, and revive your servants so that whole earth may know your love. 

Friday, August 9, 2013


I have been thinking a lot about legacy lately.  I guess in part because of our 200 year anniversary.  Last week I asked us what do we want the legacy of Huron to be?  That in order to know when/ where / how we are to move forward we need to know what we want.  200 years later we are currently living the legacy of those who forged our church, what do we want for the next generations?

In praying over the Bible this week, I couldn't help but think of a passage from Kings.  Kings is full of interesting things and most often forgotten tales of the Kings of the Hebrews.  One of these stories that gets over look is King Joash.

King Joash took the thrown at a very young age (somewhere between 6-9).   His grandmother, Athaliah, who was not a worshiper of YHWH but instead Baal took the thrown after her son the King was killed.  In order to maintain her acting Queenship she murdered all other males of royalty.  Perhaps her own sons!  However, one of the former kings sisters (a daughter of this Queen from another mother as we would say today) save his son Joash and hid him away in the temple.  After 6 years she revealed him as the King of Judah and in a frenzy Athaliah (the Queen) was killed.

The harsh reign of Queen Athaliah lead to a rejoice in Joash so the thrown and once more set the stage for the reign of King David ancestors and eventually Jesus. What would've happened if the Queen had gotten her way and all heirs were killed?  Luckily God (YHWH) didn't let that happen, instead he laid it upon the heart of Joash's aunt to save him and prepare him to be King. 

In our churches, we must continue to follow YHWH's will for our future.  We don't know what God might have in store for us but I'm sure young Joash didn't know what one day he would be the ancestor of Jesus either.   Our legacy is important.  We don't want to get so caught up in our own plan / ways that we lose sight of God.  BUT more importantly we have to remember that God is sometimes asking us to use our judgement to do the right thing.  Doing the right thing may include going against authority, going against the establishment, taking risks and trusting God while traveling in the unknown.

Let this passage be a reminder to us that for our legacy to remain strong, God must be in charge!  Let us put our faith in the divine.  

Friday, August 2, 2013


So this past week we participated in VBS (Vacation Bible School) with the Council of Churches.  And did we have a great turn out! Every year I am inspired and encouraged by the Spirit of Jesus at VBS.  This year we had just about 50 kids (15 of them under 5!) learning about God and living in "God's Backyard" (Thanks to Standard Publishing). 

We learned that the most important commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and all our strength! Let me assure you that it takes all your heart, soul, mind and strength to teach, help and be part of VBS.

My favorite moment at VBS always comes on the last night when some kid realizing it is the last night cries that they will not be coming back tomorrow.  It is wonderful to see and feel the energy of Christ in the children.  This year I was able to teach the Pre-schoolers 4 out of the 5 nights.  In the beautiful chaos that is pre-school I am always taken a back by what the children remember and understand about Jesus.  One little girl stood out, when I asked a question about "what are we talking about today" or "what is our theme?" This little girl always raised her hand high only to give the same response - "Jesus!"  Well although that was partially right - there was always another theme: serve family, serve friends, serve neighbors, serve community, serve Jesus. 

But that got me thinking - JESUS is behind all of that and JESUS is the reason we were there and is the reason we come to Church on Sundays and even for our church buildings to exist.  Jesus is the answer!  How quickly do we forget that though when we are focused on our task at hand or trying to keep the details correct?  How quickly do we assume we remember that JESUS is at the center of the Church life when we are busy planning and putting things into action? 

Christian living is intentionally living for Christ - intentionally following God and trying to make our choices in conjunction with the Spirit and not our own wills.  Living for Jesus should open our life up to new opportunities and we should live to serve - not just our friends, family, neighbors or community but Jesus.  We cannot let our life get so "full" that we forget to recognize the reason we are here.  Worship and prayer are just as important for our church life (if not more) then our meetings, fellowship and of course our buildings.

So 1, 2, 3 LET'S GO! Worshiping and serving Jesus in our whole world and living intentionally for Christ!