August 20th, 2015
So this happened Wednesday.
The same or similar played out in innumerable places across the country this week: the first day of kindergarten. Transition for child and parent alike, both wondering if they’ll be able to survive separation (and then in a few minutes wondering why this didn’t happen sooner!)
The first day of kindergarten is a microcosm for the whole of life. There’s always a wider world awaiting us. Perhaps an undercurrent of both anxiety and anticipation at every new step. We may not like the notion at first, but in time we recognize that we’re here to learn something, here to become something different than what we are. And that everyone’s in the same boat. All of us a little afraid. All of us not quite ready to let go fully of the hands that pointed us toward this new and larger enterprise. All of us hoping sometimes we can just get through the day–only to be surprised that the day held more for us, even more good for us, than we might’ve imagined.
And on several days we will come home from the day that was, and have fashioned something from raw materials, hopefully into something identifiable if not beautiful or intricate. Our resources and skills will have afforded us the opportunity to share in the creative energy and activity that would seem to infuse the whole of the world around us.
And whatever satisfaction we might take from the quality of the work itself, or from the accolades we might’ve been privileged to receive for it, there will still always be a part of us that wonders if it fits the bill. If it matters. If it works. Which is really a question about whether we matter, or we “work.” And if we are fortunate there will be someone who loves us, and whose love for us leads them to delight in whatever we’ve brought home to show them. They will take delight in what is inherent to the work and what effect it has on them. Mostly though they will find it becoming because of the hand from whom it came into being.
Allen Levi wrote a song about the way God sees all that we fashion–in light of how He sees us–entitled “Refrigerator Art.” That God calls Himself a Father, and that by His Son’s work He makes us His children, is proof enough that we are forever the kid on the first day of kindergarten: stumbling and uncertain, ever in need of a stabilizing hand, even our most diligent efforts never what ultimately endears us to Him. But what work we do “bring” to Him He gladly esteems and delights in, like a mother or father proudly displaying “art” more obscure than Picasso’s or Pollock’s. The Cross was His own masterpiece, and it proves His love of art–of the art we are to Him, and the art we bring to Him.
- When members of CtK experience acute and unexpected financial requests, what should the process be for assessing the nature and scope of the request so that a prudent decision about extending benevolence can be made efficiently?
- What principles ought guide individuals, families, and Community Groups in extending mercy to those they encounter?
- What churches, agencies, or other entities are at work in the area of mercy-care in our vicinity, and are there opportunities for partnership?
- What particular giftings does the Body of CtK possess that correspond to particular needs within CtK and beyond it? How might those giftings be employed to meet those needs?
We’ve introduced the Mercy Cohort over the last several weeks here, here and here. While you may not need further justification for why we’re seeking to form an organized mercy effort like this, we realize the more concreteness we can add to what the MC will actually do can only help. So the questions we’ve enumerated above represent some that the inaugural class of the MC may seek to answer. By that list we hope to offer a bit more specificity as to the MC’s mandate.
We’re asking people at this point only to consider taking the training we’d like to offer in September–no binding commitment yet. Only after completing the training will interested applicants be asked to interview with a couple elders. No degrees in social work or counseling required–only sound judgment and sympathy.
As we finish off our refresher course on what it means to be Faithfully Present this Sunday, we’ll be reminded that the church will always be outwardly facing–always taking an interest in the good of its surrounding world(s). The MC is just one effort to fulfill that part of our identity as those unto whom immeasurable mercy has been shown.
We’re a little more than three weeks out from our next season of Community Groups. But we’ve known from the very beginning we sought to establish a CG ministry that there is a certain hesitation someone might feel at becoming part of a group designed to lead us toward maturity–an enterprise that inevitably entails the sometimes uncomfortable experience of transparency.
But to allay your fears and provide some honest-to-goodness insight into the experience of these Groups, we’re sharing testimonies from people who took the risk and found a reward–often unexpectedly. Last week you heard from Christy Keating. This week we hear from Glenn Machlan:
I was still fairly new in the church when community groups were started last fall, so I was excited about the opportunity to get to know some people better. And that has certainly been a result of my joining a community group. But I didn’t anticipate the extent to which we would grow together – learning from each other, encouraging one another, dealing with hurts, and sharing how God has been at work in our lives. Through interaction with the group, God has shown me underlying wrong motives and gods that have been hurting me. And I’ve seen how I can relate to people better. But above all, God has put me in a group where I can experience His love and acceptance through His body. I am looking forward to regathering next month.
Between 5-7 groups will convene starting the week of September 14th. Details to follow by the end of August.
Finally, if you didn’t catch it last week, we’re relocating the first Sunday of September to Canterbury Episcopal School in DeSoto!
Last Sunday heads from all CtK’s ministry areas met for a walkthrough of the facility and a planning meeting for transitioning us as uneventfully as possible. Things are taking shape rapidly!
As we’ve said before, our new location will afford us new possibilities, but also require new commitments from us. One way we’ll need additional help is for the purpose of setting up the worship space each Sunday. Phil Swayne has kindly offered to be our setup team coordinator. (Three cheers!) Ruling Elder Jim Akovenko is recruiting a team, hopefully of sufficient size that the responsibility can rotate through a number of sub-groups. If you’d be interested in knowing more or wanting to volunteer, contact Jim.