This is one of my favorite pictures of my kids, Joey and Ellie, from when they were about 3 and 1. It cracks me up and perfectly captures a moment in time (including Ellie's unique thumb-sucking position).
When they were this age up to the time they were both in school, I arranged by work week around their childcare worker's schedule which meant that we had "Daddy Day" every Friday (Tami was teaching 3rd grade). Our usual routine included going to "the big Mall store" and making our rounds from the Christian bookstore ("the Jesus store") to the Disney Store to the pet store to the arcade and then to McDonald's for a Happy Meal (and free child-sized ice cream). The best part of this (from my perspective) was that all of this entertainment was free (other than the Happy Meal) since we didn't purchase things at the stores, but just looked at and played with things for a while. Even at the arcade, the kids just pretended to play with the video games during the game demos. It was the perfect option for a poor youth pastor!
In the early days of this, when Ellie was still very young, I brought along the stroller and Joey usually walked along side. One day there must have been some action that distracted me for a minute because I looked around and Joey was nowhere to be seen! I quickly found a nearby mall cop and told him my toddler was missing (this was before "Amber Alerts", so I'm not sure what he may have done other than to talk on his radio to the other security staff). I began back-tracking and searching the stores we had just walked past. Fortunately I quickly found that Joey had wandered into a video store - drawn by the big movie poster display in the back. My heart beat and breathing began to return to normal...
As I look back, the whole ordeal couldn't have lasted more than 5 minutes, but that was more than enough time to start panicking and imagining the worst! Joey, of course, had no idea what I was going through - and I'm pretty sure he never understood. But I know that the emotions of someone who feels that he's been abandoned are just as intense as the emotions of the person who has lost someone!
Our news has been dominated with the stories of the Oso mudslide and the 100+ people who have either died or haven't been accounted for and the Malaysian airline that's disappeared with over 300 people. We don't know if there are any individuals who are still alive and hoping to be rescued in either of these situations, but we can imagine the fear and pain of trying to survive for days on end and losing hope of ever being reunited with loved ones.
In a way that we will never be able to fully understand, Jesus went through an even greater experience of abandonment during his death on the cross. This Sunday, March 30th, we'll continue our series, "Famous Last Words", by focusing on Jesus' cry, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" What was going on there and how do we respond to our own feelings of being abandoned by God? I hope you'll be able to join us.
World Vision and the Evangelical Covenant Church
World Vision has been in the news a lot this past week in regards to their hiring process decision. As you may know, The Evangelical Covenant Church, the denomination to which CCC is a part, has a partnership with WV in the Congo in their Covenant Kids Congo effort.
Here is a statement released by our denominational leadership in regards to World Vision and the issues of this past week as it relates to our mission to children in the Congo.
Statement on Our Partnership with World Vision
Take a minute and watch this short video (even if you've seen it before, you'll enjoy watching it a second time).
What is it that makes this such an uplifting, joyful thing to watch? For me, it's the fact that seemingly different people found that they had things in common and could learn from one another. Although they may never meet again, their lives were enriched from the few minutes they spent sitting in a ball pit.
When you come to church do you just interact with your family and those with whom you already have a relationship? We often make the mistake of assuming that people different from us (different age, race, life circumstances, etc.) would have no interest in us and nothing that we could gain from their friendship. That couldn't be further from the truth!
One of the amazing things Jesus did through his life, death and resurrection was to unite people who normally wouldn't even consider hanging out together. Think about the make-up of his followers. They included:
Join us this Sunday, March 23rd, as we look at one of the things Jesus said from the cross that speaks directly to our relationships with each other. It could change the way we "do church".
Have you ever tried to come up with the perfect departing words or phrase as you left a room? Usually it's hours (or days) later when you slap your forehead and exclaim, "THAT's what I should have said!" For my fellow Seinfeld fans out there, think of George and his "Jerk Store" comment.
There's a good reason why people work as crafting just the right closing remarks: often those are the ones that leave the biggest impact. Think about final scenes in movies and stories -- the hero and heroine riding off into the sunset, "they all lived happily ever after", etc.
Jesus final words from the cross will be the focus of our sermons during the next few weeks leading up to Easter. This Sunday, March 16th, we'll look at his prayer, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing." It's good news that we need to remember! I hope to see you there.
What comes to mind when you think of "worship"? It probably depends on your church experience, but most people tend to think of the music and singing during a church service. That's certainly an important and powerful experience of worship, but it's not the only time we worship. In fact, you can worship throughout your day every day of the week -- and it doesn't require you to sing a note!
This Sunday, March 9th, Tim Boonstra will be moving out from behind the drum kit to share an important message about worship. I hope you'll be able to join us!
In the meanwhile, it's always good to be able to laugh at ourselves! See if you relate to any of Christian comedian, Tim Hawkins', observations of how we worship and pray.
Thoughts about living as a Jesus follower and life at Community Covenant Church