Pastoral Backstory – August 13th, 2015

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(What is the Backstory and why?)

 

August 13th, 2015

Many of you know we’ve been searching for a new location for CtK in order to accommodate our growth (especially in the nursery), to provide some greater flexibility, and to offer us some opportunities to become involved in the life of the surrounding community.

We held a congregational meeting back in January apprising you of the nature of our search, and how both to pray and prepare for what might come of it. And then in recent months we enlisted your help in expanding that effort.

CESlogoTwo Sundays ago we mentioned some progress in that search, specifically in making contact with the Canterbury Episcopal School in DeSoto. Well, today we’re pleased and thankful to announce that we have entered into a verbal agreement with CES and will soon finalize that agreement in anticipation of, we pray, a start-date of September 6th. (Oi!)

We are astonished and humbled with the way the process unfolded and how quickly it did. We’re also very pleased to have become acquainted with the winsome administration and board of CES, all of whom have been kind and accommodating.

There will obviously be more detail to share in the coming days and weeks, to say nothing of the efforts related to a transition. This Sunday afternoon the elders and heads of our various ministry areas will converge on CES for a planning meeting to think through both how best to transition and how to settle into our new surroundings.

All changes entail personal changes. Relocating to CES will be no different. Some aspects will require more commitment from us all. But we believe those added responsibilities will be both manageable and..here’s a word, salubrious to our life together.

We are grateful for the kindness of Fairmeadows Baptist Church over these last two years. There will be an opportunity to express our thanksgiving to them in the days ahead. We are also grateful for the opportunities presented to us at CES, including possibly entering into neighborly relationship with nearby St. Anne’s Episcopal Church.

You have prayed for this and labored to see it happen. Let’s all give thanks and pray now that He will continue to mature us in the way of Faithful Presence.

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Satisfaction comes to pastor upon hearing how a sermon connected with a person, how it nourished them. That satisfaction is deeper when the sermon catalyzes new thoughts in someone–thoughts that would’ve served the sermon even more.

We tried to bring out the verbal, active nature of the adjective, “present,” in service last Sunday as we began our brief summary of what it means to be “faithfully present.”  Jane Pappenhagen pondered what she heard about being present to God, and here helps us see that to be actively present to Him requires we first actively seek to see how He is present to us:

As I thought about being faithful to God, I kept thinking about things I should do: read Scripture, pray, worship, give, meditate, confess sin, etc. But then I realized that my thinking was backwards, not to mention pretty self-centered and duty-bound. So, I decided this: focus on God’s faithful presence to me. As I read through Scripture (I use DA Carson’s For the Love of God), I look for God’s faithful presence to the people I’m reading about. I look for ways He shows His love for them, even when He reveals their sin to them. I ponder these things and realize He is faithfully present to me in similar ways and I am intentionally paying attention to the myriad ways He is present to me. As I am filled with His love, my gratitude energizes me to respond to His faithful presence to me with my faithful presence to Him, inwardly first, then outwardly.

Jane helps to accentuate the point we made too quickly at the end of the sermon: our capacity to be present to Him rests on our sense of how He is already, and has been profoundly, present to us–in Christ, and in all the gratitude-eliciting gifts around us.

Do you see how stilling yourself, reflecting upon what you have, and imagining the fulness yet to come is both illustrative and nurturing of our faithful presence to God? I’m the first to admit a discomfort in making time for stillness, because it feels like marking time. But that is because I have become addicted to that pace which I think is life, but which is often fear masquerading as life. Practicing His presence insists upon seeing our predilection toward productivity with new eyes: as that alluring thing that can be more enervating to us than invigorating in the long term.

This way of faithful presence isn’t merely a way of focus for the life of the church; it is essential to life in His name.

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Henri Nouwen

As people of the communion of saints, anything of spiritual value isn’t the result of individual accomplishment but the fruit of communal life.”  (Henri Nouwen)

In about a month Community Groups will form–some resuming from last year, others for the first time. This will be our second year of Groups. Whether you’ve been part of groups like this before or have no idea what they’re like, we know there’s a certain hesitation one might feel to in joining something like this. Committing yourself to a few folks you may know little about, coupled with sharing part of your story in response to the topic of that group’s study can be an intimidating prospect.

That’s why we want to share with you over the next few weeks some perspectives of people who’ve been involved in our CGs. Christy Keating and her family joined CtK earlier this year. Prior to becoming a member of CtK she joined a CG. Here’s her experience:

When we first started coming to CtK last September, we still had a small group meeting at our house from our previous church. I loved the group and wanted to keep it going, even though we had changed churches. At first, when it was announced that a Women’s Bible Study was going to start in October, I was not interested in joining because I wanted to stay with our current small group. But God worked on my heart and  I felt that I was supposed to join the Tuesday evening group. The group at our house was also meeting on Tuesday nights, so I could not do both. God made it clear that it was time to end the group at our house when all the rest of the group was also moving on to new things. So I somewhat reluctantly joined the CtK group, but was nervous because I didn’t really know any of the women who were a part of the group. My reluctance evaporated completely after the first meeting, when I could tell that this was a really awesome group of women who were willing to be open and honest, and who really wanted to get to know the others in the group on a deep level.

 

The book that we studied was excellent, challenging, and met me exactly where I was at, with exactly what I needed to hear. We always had good discussions about the chapter, even if we sometimes disagreed with some of the things the author said. Reading and discussing the book has brought about real changes in my life, and in the lives of others in the group.

 

During the course of the study, we became a family who loves each other deeply. When anyone has a need, people jump in right away, many times without even being asked – help with moving, meals after a baby is born, visiting when someone is in the hospital, help when a tree falls on a roof, etc. Emails of encouragement are always going around, and whenever anyone has a need for prayer, either they or another member immediately sends the request out to the group. There has been a level of emotional support in this group that I have rarely experienced anywhere else, and God knew that I would need these dear sisters as I have gone through a very difficult time this past winter and spring. It is hard to believe the depth of friendships that have formed  within the group in such a short amount of time. I am deeply grateful that God prodded me to join this group, I can’t imagine what I would have done without them. In fact, after the study was finished for the summer, we all were missing our meetings together so much that we have decided to meet informally during the summer as well, so we don’t lose touch with each other. Words don’t really adequately describe how much I love these women and what the group has meant to me.

 

Community Groups form the week of September 14th. Look for more details at the end of August. You can read more about why we consider CGs so important by clicking here.

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Community Hits:

  • w2wlogoThe final Women to Women (W2W) discussion on the future of women’s ministry of CtK will be held this Sunday during 2nd hour in the conference room of the sanctuary. All are welcome–even if you’ve come before!
  • Mercy Cohort applications will be taken until August 23rd. Any CtK members who complete the application may attend the training. We’ll ask for commitments only after the training is completed. Questions? Email us.

 

Author: Patrick

Pastor of Christ the King Church (PCA)

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