Archive for February, 2019

In a World of Awesome, is there Room for Awe?

February 26, 2019

29Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him.   -Exodus 34:29-30

32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”   –Luke 9:32-35

When was the last time you felt the kind of amazement or awe that made you terrified? That was so beyond your understanding of the world that you fell to your feet in wonder and humility?

The world we live in, here in the 21st century, is an awesome place, isn’t it? in the last century we have seen wonders that our ancestors couldn’t even imagine. From sending human beings into space and landing on the moon, to having devices that we carry with us through which we can connect with practically everyone on the planet, to modern medicines and surgeries that allow us to live longer and survive diseases that used to mean a death sentence to anyone who was afflicted, we live in a time of scientific, technological, and medical wonders. Sometimes there is so much to be amazed at it’s a little overwhelming!

That sense of being overwhelmed with all of the amazing things, though, can cause us to become numb to things that are truly amazing.  If we happen to lose one of those marvelous tech gadgets we don’t mourn, we just buy another one. New scientific and medical breakthroughs are treated as ordinary. We throw around the word “awesome” to the point that it has become superficial.

So where in all of our modern day awesomeness do we find room for actual awe? And for us church people, when do we feel the awe-inspiring presence of God? Could this be why so many people have given up on church– we’re so steeped in the awesome (some of which is truly amazing, for sure!) that we’ve lost the ability to see and feel the terrifying, awe-inspiring presence of God? When was the last time you went to church expecting to feel God’s awe-inspiring presence?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

A New Beginning

February 7, 2019

When we think about church the first thing that often comes to mind for us is the building. We all remember the old children’s finger game that went, Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the door and see all the people. The church building was where you went for church services and Sunday school (and for me, kindergarden), and perhaps fellowship dinner and Bible study during the week. “Where do you go to church?” was as common a question as “where do you go to school” or “where do you work?” and in my small town the answer was usually a Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian church. There was one Catholic church and I’m sure there were Lutherans around, but the mega churches hadn’t come to the forefront yet, so it was likely that you went to one of those churches.

I grew up at Waverly Road Presbyterian Church, and I have many fond memories of being in that building and knowing my way around. But when I think about WRPC what I really remember are the people, the kids that were the ages of me and my siblings and the adults who took the time to get to know us, to nurture us and care for us. My grandparents helped start WRPC, my parents were married there and my siblings and I all grew up there, and we were a pretty active family in the church.

But because God calls us out of places and activities in the same way that God calls us to places and activities, none of my family is still attending at WRPC. My siblings and I grew up and moved away or got married or got jobs and got busy; my parents felt called away from WRPC into another Presbyterian church in town, where they are members today. The hubs and I have attended and been members at several different churches, especially since I became a minister; and through these changes we have learned to value the people we have come to know more than the location or aesthetics or even memories that place might hold for us.

Don’t get me wrong– place can be important for memory and identity making. However, the Israelites didn’t really become a people until God called them out of Egypt and into the Land. And it wasn’t a straight line from one to another; there was wilderness to navigate and rivers to cross before they came to the Land. This might lead us to an understanding that it wasn’t the Land that made them into God’s people, but the journey, the wandering and learning to trust God is what made them into the people of God.

And now we at COF are on the brink of selling our building and property and moving to a new location, for various reasons. We may, for a while, feel like the Israelites wandering in the desert. We remember from that story that when the Israelites ran out of food and water they grumbled: why did we leave Egypt? We may have been slaves but at least we had food and water! We may look back and say, why did we leave our familiar and friendly building? or why did we give up the property we had just to move to another property? However, if we listen closely we can hear the Spirit of God saying, it’s time for something new, I am going ahead of you and I will find you a new home. As I hear the Spirit speaking I know that a move isn’t the end for Community of Faith, but a new beginning.