Helping at Church of the Eternal Hills
In a recent sermon I challenged all of us to be better at the “Follow-Through:” now that we have received the Good News and we hold this incredible promise for ourselves, how do we respond? Peter and his buddies went back to fishing and had to be reminded again that they were supposed to be telling Jesus’ story, healing the sick, feeding the hungry.
If you’ve felt like you want to work on your “Follow-Through” I have some opportunities coming up soon:
Thank you to everyone who attended the New Beginnings “Appreciative Inquiry” on Tuesday, May 2. As one of the first steps in the New Beginnings process, we were led through a series of questions by PJ Brobston, who will gather our responses as well as statistical data for our community, demographic information on the county, and financial information of our church into a comprehensive assessment to assist us as we move forward with our visioning.
I need 10 people who are committed to this process to attend training with me in Denver on June 9 – 10. The training will teach us about the remainder of the process, and will include meals and lodging, generously paid for by the Denver Presbytery.
Specifically, the 10 people need to be committed to serving as hosts for six small group (a group of 6-8 people) meetings, where participants will engage in deep discussion about our congregation and where we want to focus our energy as we move forward together. Meetings can be held at homes or at the church, and will be a great chance to grow closer to your church family.
If you can lead a small group and will be able to attend the training on June 9 and 10, please let me know ASAP by emailing email@example.com or calling the church office at 887-3603.
Second Wind Fund
This ministry is supported by three Presbyterian congregations down on the front range. Their mission statement is, “to decrease the incidence of suicide in children and youth by removing the financial and social barriers to treatment.”
We have been invited to their annual breakfast so that we might learn more about this wonderful program and perhaps consider joining into Mission Partnership with Green Mountain Presbyterian (where Gretchen Bretz serves) and Arvada Pres (where Bill Sanders serves). We have two spots open to attend the breakfast, which begins at 7 AM in Denver (I realize that means an early morning!) on Thursday, May 25. If you’d like to go with Pastor Paula and Sue Perkins, please call the church office or email Paula directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vacation Bible School
This year we are engaging in a partnership with Highland Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center. They will be sending us four staff members for a week to run our our “Day Camp.”
We need housing for the staff, meals, and some extra hands to help wrangle children during the week they are here: June 11 — 16. Please sign up on the “Mission of the Month” table outside of the sanctuary, or speak with Rochelle Lantermans to volunteer.
Many Rooms: John 14:1-14
From the Pastor’s Desk
Don’t Be Troubled; Don’t Be Afraid
Jesus’ farewell discourse from John offers words of comfort to his disciples
“Don’t be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus seems to know that his disciples and those gathered near him needed to hear that often, as he says it repeatedly in all of the Gospels.
It was wise guidance at the time — the promise that Jesus, though leaving this place, would go ahead to prepare a place for his disciples. They were upset because they didn’t want to be left alone; they didn’t want Jesus to go anywhere else. But in the gospel of John, chapters 14-17, Jesus teaches his disciples for the last time, trying to sum up everything he had been trying to instill in them over their time together (read here for more about the Farewell Discourse).
And his words, “Don’t be troubled and do not be afraid” were comforting to the disciples as well as the first Century Christians who were reading this account of Jesus’ teachings, a Gnostic community trying to learn what it meant to live out the Good News despite an ascended savior.
The disciples’ fear was that they did not really “know” Jesus, and didn’t really know God. Jesus comforts them by saying, basically, “You know me better than you think you do. You know God, and you know me. You know me through God and you know God through me.”
This is true for us today. We do know the nature of God through the life and teachings of Jesus. This is a really cool thing. Since humans couldn’t get it from God’s working throughout creation, covenants, and the Words of the prophets, God became flesh and lived and taught among us.
Jesus also says that there are many rooms in his father’s house. Yes – room for everyone! Why do we read this as though we have some special privilege that other people will not have? It becomes troubling if read as an exclusionary passage instead of an inclusionary passage. (What I mean by this is that Jesus is telling his disciples not to worry — that God has many dwelling places for them and they already know to to abide there. It does not indicate that we have some special privilege that others will never have access to).
Part of the trouble with interpretation of this passage is that people read it as some kind of eschatological promise rather than a promise to be able to live peacefully and full of hope now. Jesus was leaving, but his disciples would remain. How could they continue to “Dwell” in God if Jesus was no longer present with them? And not dwell in the future sense — dwell in the sense of the here and now.
Look, I sure don’t mind this passage as a promise of what is yet to come — I often use it for memorial services and for comfort to the dying and their family. It has long held promise for the suffering of those who lead lives of desperation in the here and now that some day they will have a “Mansion” in heaven. This comes from the King James translation of the passage, which translated the word meaning “Dwelling Place” into “Mansion.” What we fail to acknowledge is that in King James’ time, “Mansion” only indicated any kind of place where a person could dwell — be it a cardboard box under a bridge, a lean-to corrugated metal building, or one of those million-dollar homes nestled in this beautiful valley. Basically, it meant a place that felt like home. Safe, comforting, peace-filled. A place where we can continue to abide in Jesus, and therefore continue to manifest his light to this world.
You have this choice every day. You can choose to live a troubled, anxious life — surrounded by bad news of wars and poverty and corruption. Or you can choose to abide in Jesus, not be troubled or afraid, and shine some of his light.
And if we can find some hope in the here and now, and begin to share that with others, then we can begin to imagine a little better what the place is that Jesus is going to prepare for us. And maybe we could become a little less worried about other people and how we perceive that they will or will not have a room in God’s house (remember, Jesus told us he had “other flocks” as well as “many rooms” not so that we’d worry other people weren’t going to share in God’s glory, but so that we could find our own peace).
May you find that dwelling place in your journey — a place where you can truly abide in Jesus and bring light and hope to all those who wonder how you can possibly be so comfortable and full of life in these troubling times. It’s a great promise that he made to us, so let’s grab ahold of it and begin living into it.
Invitation from Pastor Paula
On a completely church-unrelated endeavor, I want to personally invite anyone to attend a special meeting tonight, Tuesday, May 16, to hear about the “Girls Leadership Council of Grand County” in our Fellowship Hall from 5:30 to 7:00. I’ve been partnering with Dr. Susanne Jalbert to envision what a council would look like and what benefit it might have for our community long term. If you are interested in helping to build girls’ confidence and leadership skills, please join us tonight. There is no commitment expected — we just really need some feedback and help visioning this GLCGC.