A Hopeful Work

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A Hopeful Work

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Category : Pastor Blog

Probably my favorite part of being a parent is watching the uniqueness of your child develop.  It is typical for a young child to look to others, especially parents and other family members, to understand what likes and dislikes he or she should have.  

A great example from my life is that many months ago, Catherine expressed an intense interest in Star Wars, one of my favorite movie series ever.  She and Kyla had just bought me a Star Wars themed gift and she really wanted to know all about it.  I talked to Kyla about it and she agreed that Catherine and I could watch the original, 1977 Star Wars movie together a few weekends later.

The day finally arrived and I was incredibly excited to share this bit of culture with my daughter. We had the popcorn popped, the pizza hot and ready, the volume on the TV up and the movie cued up and ready to go.  It started with the John Williams trumpet fanfare and then the long scroll of bright words across a starry background began. She watched with rapt attention as the first few scenes played out, but she became a bit restless after about 20 minutes of the movie.  After a while, she wanted to ask me a question, so I paused the movie and gave her my attention.

“Daddy, can I go upstairs and play? This movie is boring.”

My heart almost broke.  This moment that I had been anticipating with such excitement was over barely 20% of the way through. But in hindsight, that was the first moment that began to recognize that Catherine is figuring out who she is.  She has relied on me a great deal for understanding that since she was born, but recently, her identity has begun solidifying within her, apart from the influence of me and Kyla. We never finished Star Wars, instead she’s watched most all of season one of “Glitter Force” a fashion focused kids show about five girls who turn into super heroes. -sigh-

But even though Catherine is beginning to craft her own opinions and develop her own points of view, the role of a parent is to continually be an influence throughout her life, even if she’s not excited about it (no, you can’t have halloween candy for breakfast!)  I do this because I care about her, about her development, and about who she will become as an adult.  And this is the hardest and most important work I do as a parent. Yet, even as I work, I am hopeful of the amazing woman she will become.

I cannot imagine the burden that Mary and Joseph carried as they recognized that they were rearing the son of God.  In the beginning, they told him what to eat, when to go to bed, where to stand, and decided when he would go to the temple and when he wouldn’t.  All of this was done so that Jesus would have a solid foundation for life and for his spirit when he would eventually come into his own and begin his ministry.  God specifically designed for Jesus to be born into a faithful family so that he would know community, know tradition, know hard work, and know love and loss.  Through it all, Mary and Joseph had hope in the work they did raising Jesus.

In much the same way, our lives of discipleship are ones where we are in continual development under the watchful gaze of Creator.  God instills within us a curiosity and a desire to know and to grow.  We spend a large portion of our lives “discovering” and better understanding ourselves and knowing our own desires and opinions and then we are off discovering and understanding who and what God is.  It is then that our and God’s hopeful work begins, as we begin to move closer and closer in relationship with our Maker, our Sustainer, our Lord, and our King.

May God’s hopeful work begin anew within you as we seek the newborn king in this Advent Season.

 


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Prayer: A September Sermon Series

A few weeks ago, a few dozen of our Faith family gathered at church and watched the movie “War Room”.  The movie told the story of a family that was facing difficult times, for whom prayer was a powerfully transforming practice.  When their marriage is failing, there was trouble in the workplace, and when they were feeling more and more distant in their relationship with God, prayer is the only path to healing they have yet to try.  The movie gives a powerful example of the purpose of prayer in our lives, the practice of mentoring within spiritual relationships, and most importantly, tells a story of the centrality of Grace within our earthly relationships.  

Within our church this movie, and other movements of the Spirit, have begun conversations about how we pray as individuals, as families, and as a congregational family.  First of all, in order to continue the conversation about prayer I will be using the month of September as an opportunity to speak from what I see in the scriptures on prayer.  We will encounter multiple instances of someone’s need for or use of prayer in our biblical heritage.

Additionally, there will be new opportunities developed through the rest of the year to practically participate in praying for each other and for the work of the Church.  The first idea that was spoken about in our post-movie discussion was a way for us to pray for one another during worship.  We would like to invite anyone who feels led, to pray for the members, the leaders, and the worship that happens in our  church’s “other” service.  For example, we would like to invite those who worship in our first service to stay a little later than usual once or twice a month and pray for the second service as it is going on: for the musicians, for the pastor, for the technology, for those participating.  On the other hand, we also invite some of our regular attendees for our second service to come a little earlier than usual, and spend some time in prayer for our first service as it is happening: for the musicians, for the pastor, for the technology, for those participating.  In this simple way, a small amount of time devoted in prayer for your church family will pay enormous dividends in spiritual renewal, in unity, and in connectivity between our two, diverse church families.

Prayer is the cornerstone of building a life of discipleship.  If we engage only in worship, our lives lack depth. If we engage only in ministry and service, our lives lack the Spirit.  If we engage only in study, our lives lack heart. If we engage only in fellowship, our lives lack purpose.  Prayer is our best tool for connecting and reconnecting our lives to God. It is what gives our worship depth and majesty, it is what focuses our ministry with a spirit of service and sacrifice.  Prayer connects our study to our life and our hope, and gives purpose and purpose to our fellowship.  Moreover, through connecting us to God, it renews our spirit so that we are better able to participate in all aspects of the life of a disciple.  To cease praying is to stop following, stop moving, stop encountering God.           

I pray that each one of us, our entire congregation, invests in prayer for our church, for our community, for our purpose, and for our connection to God in the coming months.  May we all be changed because of it.

Loving God, we are congregation that loves you and seeks you.  We confess to you that our busyness and our distraction pull us away from our prayerful connections to you.  We ask that you inspire us to be more passionate, more consistent, and more purposeful prayers so that we might find you leading us more vividly and more intentionally that we have ever before.  Hear our Prayers, Oh God, and fill us with your Spirit, through the power of your Son, Jesus. Amen

Pastor Steven


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