Pastoral Backstory 12.12.13


(What is the Backstory and why?)



December 12th, 2013

logoMany will disrupt their circadian rhythms tonight to catch the midnight showing of Peter Jackson’s 2nd installment of his rather elongated version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  Many others will ask why.

Too much ink has already been spilled on why this story-turned-franchise has endured, and why it’s inspired films costing hundreds of millions, only then to make billions more.  Those who sought to explain the phenomenon might have only read Tolkien more closely. For he may have answered their questions in the words of the character ironically least given to pensive soliloquy.  Late into the middle episode of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the fellowship of nine has been splintered, their hopes of carrying to Mordor the Ring of Power fading it seems by the day.  The diminutive pair who first embarked on the quest, leaving behind everything familiar, now wonders aloud whether they have set out in vain. Listen below to Sam Gamgee explain to his dearest friend Frodo why they have risked and suffered so much to see their fated errand come to a conclusive end.

Sam’s explanation of why they’ve endured I think explains why this whole story has endured.  No matter how this world may have shorn you like a sheep, how cunningly cynicism may have gripped you like a vice, there remains–almost defiantly–a sense that there is still a good worth living and dying for.  Like One who wept at a friend’s tomb, even our tears fall, not just in sorrow, but with indignation at the way things are–an indignation that bespeaks a mysterious hope in how things shall one day be transformed (cf. Jn 11:33).  Tolkien tells that story of irrepressible hope in the dress of fantasy, but it conjures in us a sense of an as yet unfulfilled reality.

This Sunday is no conclusion to the story of Christ the King Church but only a beginning.  Yet what it has already seen and suffered, what it has labored to see come to fruition finds, I believe, a deep resonance in this weary conversation between Frodo and Sam.  Several moments in this church’s young life have been fraught with the same temptation to doubt and despair you hear in Frodo’s question.  But throughout the sojourn, from inception to particularization, another voice has whispered in this fellowship’s collective minds reminding them that they were “holding onto something” worth fighting for: an echo of good news–a Gospel–that heralds a goodness effaced by sin but redeemed in blood and tears for which this unfinished world longs, even if it can’t quite put its finger on why it does.

If only the road ahead would appear as bright as that which overtook a redeemed Middle Earth.  It’s only time before we will be confronted with the same wistful questions that are desperate for a word “fitly spoken” (Prov 25:11), a renewed sense that our labor is not in vain (Gal 2:2), a community of living stones growing into something holy (1 Peter 2:5).  But by grace we shall fight to find our feet that we would “stand firm” (Eph 6:13, 1Pet 5:12).  Then we shall together be those whom Isaiah envisioned.

They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.

We celebrate this Sunday the story that is Christ the King Church, but mostly we celebrate what is yet to come.


303659_564674477130_1109956365_nIn order to send Kyria Johnson CtK’s contribution by year’s end, contributions should be made by this Sunday, as we heard from Richard Davis last week:

As most of you know, we made a decision this year, to provide support to Kyria Johnson using our designated Missions Fund.  Kyria was (and still is) a part of our community for a year while training at SIL and GIAL.  She is now working to raise her support to go to West Africa.   In order to get onto the field, missionaries have significant up front expenses and so we decided earlier this year to give to Kyria all of the money in our restricted missions fund.  Many of you have given generously to this fund.  I am writing to inform all of you that the cutoff date for contributions to this fund will be Dec. 15.  This will allow us to forward the money to her account before the end of the year.  If you desire, you may contribute to this fund by simply designating missions or missions fund on your check.


Community quick hits:

  • candcreschedDon’t forget the Celebration of our Particularization immediately following this Sunday’s service.  Lunch provided!
  • Icemageddon has melted away but the cold keeps calling for something warm and spicy. So we’ve rescheduled our Cornbread and Carols to Sunday, December 22nd, 6-8p, at the Lafferty’s.  Click here for details on what to bring.
  • Our toy and winter clothing drive closes out this Sunday. Look for the boxes in the foyer to place your donations.  Arrangements are pending for delivery. 
  • Those interested in coming for membership in CtK should save the date, January 10-11 (Fri-Sat) for our next membership class. A time to dig deeper into what membership means and how we plan to live out the vision of CtK. It’s also a time to ask questions about faith, community, and our leadership.


  • More books are in for our evangelism seminar in early February.  They’ll be on sale for $5 in Fellowship Hall during 2nd hour this Sunday. Get yours and start reading.



Finally,  would you pray:

  • for our sister Helen Johnson whose husband of 57 years, Don, died last Thursday night; a memorial service will be held January 4th at 2pm on the SIL Campus, followed by a reception at Cowan Apartments
  • for Karla Pollock, recovering from a stay in the hospital for a heart condition
  • for Rachel Kull as doctors continue to diagnose a heart condition
  • for those who find this season especially difficult to celebrate, in the wake of loss or difficulty
  • for our young and newly-birthed church: that we would in fact come to manifest the faithful presence we’ve spent so much time considering already

See you Sunday at 9:30,




Author: Glenn Machlan

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  1. When my mother passed away on 22 Dec. in 1998 and ice was predicted for the next day, the family decided to delay her services until the 26th, and make an attempt at a Christmas celebration for the sake of the 6 yr. old granddaughter and 4 mo. old grandson ( his first Christmas). After sort of muted opening of gifts, Grandfather Larry placed the baby under the Christmas tree, so the baby could see the lights.
    Youngest son quickly turned the lights to various sequences. Oh, when the lights began to blink, change from all red to all green, etc., the baby’s eyes widened, his little arms waved, and his feet kicked. He was thrilled. The rest of us received such moments of joy in our troubled time by just watching him.
    God gives us moments of joy, just by simple pleasures, even in despair.
    For those who have been visited by grief or illness, be of good cheer, for God will grace you with His presence by simplicity.

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    • That’s a beautiful account, Suzanne. So often we find that the Lord wants us to glimpse Him and/or His truth and He often shows us those things when we are most vulnerable. So many times I have thought that my circumstances needed to be changed but instead the Lord used the circumstances to teach me lessons that I’ve never forgotten!

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