Tuesday, March 1, 2016

God's Church

During worship we're looking at one of our eight Core Values in worship every Sunday.  This past Sunday, February 28, we looked at the Core Value, "God's Church."  The following is what I shared at the end of my sermon. 
You can watch the sermon here: https://vimeo.com/157065970
You can see a list of the eight Core Values at Chain of Lakes here: http://www.colpres.org/purpose-statement-values/              

         As part of this series we’ve been looking at one of our Core Values in worship.  I think it’s appropriate to look at the Core Value, “God’s Church.”  God’s church connects to the voice at the burning bush that said “I AM WHO I AM.”    
            At Chain of Lakes we understand this Core Value to mean:
"In every decision we seek to discern God’s desire. No leader, person, or ministry is more important than what God wants."

This is my favorite Core Value.  It’s tied for first with the other seven. 
            One reason I love this Core Value is it answers the question, Who owns, leads, and controls the church?  Who owns, leads, and controls Chain of Lakes Church? 
            What we’re saying is that the people don’t own the church, I don’t own the church, no staff person owns the church, no individual owns the church, and even the Presbytery doesn’t own the church.  They own the property, but they don’t own the church.  God owns the church.
            This might be the hardest of our eight Core Values to live out.  Who doesn’t struggle with control?.   
            I remember a story that Bruce Reyes Chow shared a while ago.  A few years back he was the Moderator of the General Assembly.  When he preached at opening worship of General Assembly that was held in Minneapolis in 2010.  He shared a story about how he got in trouble with an elderly woman in the congregation he served.  This woman was in charge of the flowers.  When Bruce said in charge, he truly meant in charge.  This woman liked to have the flowers in the same spot in the sanctuary every Sunday.  The vase for the flowers had been put in the same spot for so long that the carpet had been indented.  It wasn’t hard to know where to put the flower vase in worship.  Just look for the indentation.
            One Sunday the woman wasn’t in worship.  Someone—I don’t know if it was Bruce—put the flowers in a different place.  The woman found out.  Guess what happened?  All—you know wht—broke loose.  As soon as the woman found out she called Bruce on a phone and requested a meeting.  Bruce talked about the fear he had about this meeting—his sense of dread.  The future Moderator of the General Assembly was scared—to talk—to a woman—about flowers.
            Let’s be honest.  It’s really easy for this to happen.  One person does something and we like it and we get used to that person doing it and that person is in control.  This might work for a while, but soon everyone knows this person is in control.  The rest of the congregation doesn’t want to suggest anything different because the congregation doesn’t want to risk a disagreement with this person.  All of a sudden the mission of the church becomes about weird things—like flowers.  
            I think we do very well with this value at Chain of Lakes—but we’re human—so we always have to be on guard.
            Tell me if this has ever happened to you.  We develop an idea or a position or a policy that we think is right.  Another person has an idea, position or policy that opposes our own belief.  Most of us—and certainly me included think, “I am right; you are wrong.”
            I know where the flower vase goes; I know what is best.  We’re going to do it—like Frank Sinatra said—my way
            For myself I know I have control issues, but I really don’t want to control things.  I want God to control things.  I have come up with a test that helps me with this.  This test can be used in church, in family, and our work setting.  The test is this.
            Imagine Jesus coming to us and asking us to do the exact opposite of what we think is right.  Would we let go of our idea, position or policy?.  Maybe that person who has a different idea is expressing the voice of Jesus.
            This shows the value of prayer. 
Let me close with this prayer.
"Lord, I have an idea—I am very sure it’s the right idea.

Help me be open to what you want.  If you have a different idea, give me the openness to change."

Investing in Future Generations

On Sunday, February 21 I closed my sermon by examining the Chain of Lakes Core Value called "Investing in Future Generations."  During worship we are looking at a different Core Value.  It seemed to appropriate to look at that Core Value on that day because we celebrated the baptism of Maxwell Maatman.  
You can watch the baptism here: https://vimeo.com/156199817            
You can watch the sermon here: https://vimeo.com/156203128
You can see a list of the eight Core Values at Chain of Lakes here: http://www.colpres.org/purpose-statement-values/

           We’re looking at a different Core Value in worship this Lent at Chain of Lakes.  Today the Core Value is “Investing in Future Generations.”  We understand this to mean that
"Our priority is to create an atmosphere where children, youth, and young adults grow in faith."          
         This Core Value is my favorite—it’s tied for first with the other seven Core Values we have.  I love it because we say that our priority is to nurture the faith lives of children, youth and young adults.  In a lot of churches the older people get to have their say.  But what we are saying is children/youth/and young adults get to have their say.  When we do ministry we always want to think about how this ministry will affect children/youth/young adults. 

            I hope that in 18 years when Maxwell graduates from high school, he will say that the people of Chain of Lakes were an ordinary group of people—who did extraordinary things.  I hope he says that the people of Chain of Lakes loved him so deeply that he couldn’t help but take Jesus seriously.  I hope that he says that we were part of a movement that ended teen homelessness.  I hope he says that we eventually built a building that served the community in extraordinary ways.  I hope he says he frequently saw water being turned into wine.  

Health news

Two months ago yesterday I had open heart surgery at the 'U of MN hospital. I celebrated yesterday by running for twenty minutes on the treadmill at a pace that is not too much slower than what I was running before I had surgery. I'm going to continue my cardiac rehab until I can run a 5K without stopping--which should happen in less than a month. Then it will be on to running a half marathon this fall. I can't imagine my recovery going better. I've been back to work for three weeks and haven't had to take a nap since I started working again. Yay, God ! My energy level is getting closer to what it was before the surgery. My recent echo cardiogram showed my heart is normal--and right now I like normal. I won't see a doctor in six months. My sternum aches at the end of the day, but nothing that some tylenol won't handle. I am still in awe at the beautiful support I received from my two red heads, family, Chain of Lakes angels, neighbors, and many others. All of this support makes recovery go so much better!