Sunday, November 29, 2009
After Thanksgiving, the preparations for Christmas can begin. Now, if we listen to the forces of our culture, it would be more like after Labor Day, but my wife and I agree on this one, after Thanksgiving. Fortunately, we have a period of time to get ready. In the church we call it Advent. A time to prepare our hearts and lives to receive the miracle that is Christmas. And given how slowly our family prepares for Christmas (we’ve given up and called our family Christmas letter a holiday letter, partially out of deference to our non-Christian friends, mostly cause it doesn’t get out some years before Epiphany, January 6th), we need it.
Christmas is truly a miracle. In case you’re new to the story, God had been trying for thousands of years to get the people on Earth back on track. God would try to show us the way, but we would wander away. Time and time again, we would as the Bible says “do what was evil in the sight of the Lord”. Thankfully, God realized early on that just whipping the slate clean, save a few good folks, was not the way to go (see: Noah & the Ark). So God tried miraculous signs (e.g. burning bushes, stone tablets, etc,), which didn’t work either. So God tried wonderful speakers and leaders, a.k.a. the prophets. For a time, sure we’d listen, but then most likely we would turn on them. We as a species say we like straight talkers, right up until they say we’ve got to change. Finally, God decided it was time to come down and be among us a child, Jesus.
Every year, we celebrate that child’s birthday, by making room, making some space in our lives to receive that miracle again. We honor the child by showing our love for each other, right? Right (said in best sarcastic voice), that’s how we celebrate Christmas, remembering the Christ child, that’s the ticket. Well, maybe, or maybe we get to do this every year to give us another chance to try to get it right, cause it seems we can’t quite do that.
We’ve all seen signs that we don’t do such a good job on that, don’t we? Family fights and blow ups over whom will be welcome at the family Christmas gathering, and who won’t, sound familiar? Prince of peace, anyone? Out of sight consumer purchasing and rampant materialism to honor the birth of the champion of the poor? People getting trampled, some times to death for the sin of trying to get a cheap GPS or the hottest video game ring a bell? Ok, so it does seem we need to keep practicing this one until we get it right.
Over the next four Sundays at the Village, we are going to look at stories from the Bible to get us ready and invite us to “Make Room for the Miracle” this year. Next week we are going to hear the story of a young, teenage girl with a calling named Mary;. After that, John the Baptist and his call to drop our baggage; Finally, we’re going to hear about the shepherds, no, not the kids in the bathrobes all squeaky clean, but the rough and tumble shepherds who God chose as God’s messengers.
Today, our story was about Zechariah and Elizabeth. If you want to check if God has a sense of humor, this is one of those stories that will show you, God does. God needs a herald, someone to prepare the world for Jesus, an opening act if you will, John the Baptist. But John the Baptist needs parents. Given all of the choices available for God, a elderly couple who’ve given up on having kids, is not a very likely choice. Then again, God loves to prove God’s sense of humor, or just that God values those society we value least. Either way, I like it. Zechariah gets the humor of the situation though, he, like me, needs to watch when we, I mean he expresses it.
Zechariah was a Jewish priest. He and his wife were very good folks (a rare statement in the Bible it seems at times). He and his group of priests were doing their duty in the Temple. Once in a lifetime, these priests would be allowed to go into the inner most part of the Temple, the holiest of holy places, and it was Zechariah’s once in a life time chance. When he was there, the Angel Gabriel appears and tells Zechariah that he is going to be a father. His reaction, was essentially “you’re kidding me right? My wife and I have been praying for years to be parents, but now when we’re old and gray?”Gabriel’s reaction was “fine, don’t believe your prayer for a child was answered in God’s time (one of my least favorite time zones) then you can be quiet until the baby is born”. Zechariah is rendered mute on the spot.
God has a habit of doing big things to get our attention. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing. Go back to my blog article from August, called “Watching the Signs”, subtle is BAD when you need to get someone to go somewhere or do something. Missing a sign, a direction, etc can get you into some real trouble (or if you read the blog, at least cost you an extra 10 miles of riding and no pancakes). In this case, God made Zechariah mute, so there would be no doubt, he would be listening.
We all need to take some time to listen. If not, we miss those important things in life. But our society has gotten away from those times of calm where we can hear the important things. We used a great clip from the movie Contact in worship to illustrate this point. Theologian Palmer Joss (played by Matthew McConaughey) is appearing on the Larry King Show. He is talking about despite the advantages of our modern technology, how alone & empty we are. He is talking about how we try to fill those voids with quickly taken vacations, deficit spending trips to the mall, etc. Meanwhile, Ellie Araway (an astronomer played by Jodie Foster) makes the discovery of the Century, if not all of recorded history, because she is listening when others who work with her are not.
Now, as we prepare for another Christmas, what are we really preparing for? Are we preparing for the miracle of God coming into the world to show us the way to a better life? Are we clearing space and getting ready to accept this incredible gift? Or are we working on getting the house decorated just so, the perfect Christmas card out, the perfect set of cookies baked? Wouldn’t it be horrible if we missed a great gift, a great calling to do something real for this world, cause we were busy trying to hang up the perfect Christmas light display?
Well, at the Village we’re going to give you some chances to slow down, and clear some room in the midst of this crazy month of preparation. We will still have our usual, Sunday morning worship celebration and our after service Bible study. But we are adding to this, contrary to popular church logic which is to not add anything, but rather subtract at this time of year. We are going to give you several new opportunities to interact with God.
On Tuesday Nights @ 7 PM, starting this week, we will be offering a small group, a prayer group. Along with listening for the voice of God, this group will be taking prayers from it’s members and our greater community and giving them a voice back to God. Also, starting Tuesday at 12:15 PM, Pastor Cheri will be offering an opportunity to slow down for a bit and try to get some calm. She will offering a 15 minute, quiet time called the Lunchtime Prayer Break. Bring your lunch and take a few minutes to get some calm and peace in this crazy time. You don’t need any knowledge or expertise with prayer for either group. In fact, there’s really no such thing. It’s just a matter of praying. Like anything else, you get better at doing it with practice.
So, take a little while this week, in a group, or by yourself and listen. You don’t know what message you may get, but if it is from God, it will be a good one.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Bishop Judy Craig of the United Methodist Church told a great story several years ago at our annual conference. Off the coast of Florida a Coast Guard Search And Rescue Cutter sank suddenly in a heavy storm. Without warning, the crew found themselves in the water. No time for lifeboats, no time to grab equipment. Whatever they had on while onboard, they had in the water. Suddenly, those who go into harm’s way to rescue people, were the ones in desperate need of rescue. Not a good place to be.
A veteran non-commissioned office (NCO), a Chief found himself floating alone in the dark. Now, my Dad was a Navy Chief, so I know that the military runs on these wise veterans, but this Chief sounds like he was a cut above that. The Chief yelled out in the darkness, as loud as he could, “CIRCLE UP!”. He repeated it several times until he heard it being repeated in the stormy seas around him. He then swam towards the nearest voice and joined a shipmate.
Now the two yelled out again “CIRCLE UP!”. They heard another voice nearby echo it and so they swam together to him. Now there were three in a circle. The group clung together for warmth, protection and rest for a few minutes and then Chief yelled “REACH OUT!” and so the groups reached out and found others. And so it repeated all night, “CIRCLE UP!”. New larger circles were formed, rest was had, then “REACH OUT!”, new people were brought into the circle of protection.; Over and over again, the pattern repeated. By morning the 27 member crew were found alive, in a large circle.
Isn’t that a perfect model of our call as a Christian community. We are called on to form strong circles for protection, healing, empowerment, and then sent to reach out. We could spend the next 20 years trying to emulate this model. Too often though, one of those elements gets over done. Many churches, especially progressive, social justice churches spend so much time trying to change the world that they burn out. Others spend so much time circling up, they never reach out, becoming a club. We need to circle up. Not in a co-dependent way. We need to rest every so often. Life can be very draining at time. Also, we get hurt and need a place to heal those wounds. But we need to then work on reaching out.
In the last week, Cheri had the chance to do a little of the “circle up” part with our friend Jennifer. Jennifer and her husband Tim have been in my life longer than Cheri. They have been friends with Cheri for over thirteen years. We have shared thick and thin including the birth of their twins and our two kids, the break-up of the law firm where Jennifer and I both worked, three lawsuits that came from that, and numerous deaths and illnesses. So us being there for each other has been a constant.
Recently, Jennifer was diagnosed with a tumor, thankfully benign, on her chin into throat. However, it had to be removed as while it was not spreading elsewhere, it was growing, effecting her nerves, etc. Amazingly the best surgeon for the job was at St. Rita’s Hospital in Lima. Not to be a medical snob, but Jennifer is pretty high up in Mercy Health Partners, and has access to doctors all of the country, so she’s gonna have surgery in Lima was the first of several, “she’s going to do what?” moments our family had around this event. But her doctor’s skill in all areas is a subject for another sermon/blog.
The next “she’s going to do what?” moment was when we found out the surgery was going to be on Friday the Thirteenth at Seven O’Clock in the morning. Worse still, that’s the day after Jennifer’s Birthday, so another “she’s going to do what?” moment. But then the best one of these moments for me was when Jennifer learned Cheri was going to come down for the surgery. Being good friends means know that Cheri is not a morning person and so a 5 AM wake-up call and drive to Lima is not Cheri’s norm. Jennifer was actually rendered close to speechless, and Jennifer is never speechless.
Cheri explained that being at hospitals was not a big deal for pastors. They go to hospitals all the time. Cheri explained to Jennifer that when the Village is hundreds of people she won’t have the chance to do this for everyone, but with a surgery around the main arteries to the brain, and with the Village the size it is, this was not a big deal for a Pastor to do. So, with that Jennifer let Cheri come. The thing is, Cheri wasn’t really trying to come as the Pastor. She wanted to come as a friend. Jennifer later admitted she might not have let her friend come to the hospital, but she would let her minister. Aren’t we all like that. We don’t want to impose on our friends. We are too proud to ask for help. We don’t want to be embarrassed, so we are not real with our friends.
Our dream for the Village is to make it a community where you can be real. Where we give ourselves a chance to be open and share our lives with each other. We can’t and we won’t be that 1950's model of the church where the pastor is the one who takes care of everyone. The professional hospital call by the Pastor is why most of our churches are dying. Well, that and another issue.
People want a place to be real, they long for a place where they can be accepted as themselves. Unfortunately, they don’t think church is a place like that. Instead, the studies show they think church is a place to be avoided because it is filled with fake people. The last person you want to tell that you have HIV/AIDS, that your teenager is pregnant, that you or your spouse has had an affair, that you are struggling with addiction, etc. is a member of a church. But shouldn’t the opposite be true? Shouldn’t that be precisely the time you turn to your church family.
That’s what Jesus said, this is exactly the times and the people who need him. In Luke’s gospel, the story is told of Jesus dinning with tax collectors and other unsavory characters. The Pharisees (and for those of you who don’t know Bible history, think the ultra religious right of the time) gave Jesus all manner of grief over that. But, as he always would do, Jesus set them straight, saying “who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders - an invitation to a changed life , changed inside and out” (Luke 5:31-32 from the Message Translation).
At the Village, our plan is to be such a place. A place where you can be real, be healed, and get back on track in life. Need someone to be real with, the Village is going to give you ways to make that happen. After worship every week we have a Bible study to discuss the scripture from our worship celebration and get real with each other. Starting December 1st, our new Prayer Group will be meeting and sharing our joys and fears from the congregation as a whole, and from the members of the group. In December, as the craziness of the Holiday Season hits full force and effect, Pastor Cheri will be hosting a prayer session at lunchtime, Tuesday through Friday to allow folks to take a break. Even more ways are coming, after the first of the year, I’ll be teaching a series of studies using my favorite ways of starting conversation, movies and television. The first one, one of my own creation, using the West Wing and it’s handling of faith and morals issues.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Several years ago, I began studying a Japanese Martial Art at Toledo Campus Ministry known as Wa Ai Ju, It’s a blend of Aikido & Jujitsu. Each of the words stands for a fundamental principle of it. Wa - stands for accord/balance of body & sprit, Ai - Spontaneous action or Creativity, Ju - Gentleness. Ok, it’s a martial art, so it’s more like proportional response or using an attackers energy against them.
The fundamental movement of Wa Ai Ju is called Happo Undo, it literally means the Eight Direction Exercise. It is a way to practice our strikes (punches) and kicks, turning in 8 directions around a circle. Early on in my study, I had a real frustration problem, I couldn’t keep in perfect balance as I did it, I would get very frustrated and it showed. Finally, my instructor let me in on the Secret, you can’t do happo undo remaining in center, it off balances you doing it (well it does for her even, number two in the world in the art). It’s not about keeping perfect balance or center, it’s about how fast you can recover it by using your center/core.
But isn’t that life, we all get knocked off balance, constantly, for me this week: a car tire blew out one day, we discovered a bill didn’t get paid on time, the kids were cranky, we had a family wedding to go to that was a five hour round trip on Saturday night, with Cheri needing to preach, etc. As my mother says, “if you don’t have problems to deal with, you’re not alive”.
I kind of felt like Carl Fredricksen, the hero from UP!, which we showed part of in worship. In that movie, Carl finds the love of his life, Ellie, early in life. Ellie and he grow up dreaming of a South American Adventure at Paradise Falls. Becca and Jamie love when she describes South America as “like America, only South”. Carl and Ellie take jobs at the Zoo, in, of course, the South America section, hoping to make their dream a reality. But then, life intervenes. One thing, after another, after another, keeps them from going on the adventure, until it is too late for Ellie.
I can understand the franticness of life getting in the way. The week above is not an atypical week for us. Things in our house get crazy, especially in the morning. Trying to get two kids out the door to school every morning gets a mite crazy. If you want to read more about that, look at my prior blog on My Life the Sitcom. It gets even crazy if Cheri has to run out the door with us.
But most mornings, she and I get a chance to wind down and find our centers before leaving. For me, it comes from walking our dog and getting some other exercise. Cheri get’s her coffee, sits and prays. It’s from that daily exercise that Cheri gets her center to do this. However, I have to let you in on a little secret. This does not come easily to me or even her. That’s right, even Pastor’s struggle with prayer lives. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, as not only do people have struggles with keeping a balance, most churches do to. They struggle with keeping a balance as a group; some struggle as they spend too much time taking care of their own, others burn out trying to do so much justice they forget to take care of their own.
But the journey of being a Christian or a Christian Community is not a sprint, I don’t even think it is a marathon. I tend to think of it as the Iron Man Triathalon (if you don’t know, a group of maniacs go to Hawaii, swim, 2.4 miles in the ocean, get out of the water and ride 112 miles on bicycles, get off the bikes and run a marathon as desert. This is not over the course of days or weeks, but on the same day). It never seems to end. And that’s what life is like, one challenge after another.
Fortunately, Jesus himself taught us how to train our cores for this. In our scripture this week, Luke 6: 6-12, Jesus gets to confront the scribes and the Pharisees and if anyone knew how to off balance Jesus, it was those folks. In this particular story, they try to trip Jesus up, with a violation of the law so severe it could get him killed. Having dealt with them, what does he do, he does worry, doesn’t obsess, he goes off and prays. He re-establishes his center, his connection with God.
It’s the core of prayer and center on purpose that let Jesus do what he needed to do to save us. It’s from that core that has let Cheri do what she needed to do, and not get pulled away from the important things. This balance is how she’s survived the trials of church planting and stayed on the mission that brought us to today. Now as a faith community, we are adopting balance as a core value. Balance in two senses of the word, balance between prayer/study & doing something to make the world better. Also a balance between body & soul.
But this balance individually and collectively does not come easily. It takes daily training. Want to start your training? Take a few minutes each day this week and calm yourself and talk to God. In the coming weeks and months, we will be offering you more chances to exercise your balance - doing and praying, and caring for your spirit and your body. Come and join us.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
This week was definitely one where the world showed just how “messed up” it is. So far the authorities believe that eleven young women, and possibly more, were murdered in a home in Cleveland.. A man who had lost his job is accused of shooting ½ a dozen former co-workers in Orlando. Suicide bombers killed dozens in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Then three dozen people were shot at Ft. Hood, allegedly by a comrade in arms, driven to this supposedly by the thought of killing those of the same faith, and people taunting him about that faith.
It was pretty easy, after a week like that for me to do as Cheri asked in worship and say to my neighbor “The world is messed up”. Thankfully, that was followed by “let’s change the world”. That’s what this week’s worship celebration was about, changing the world. Not an easy thing to do, as you can see, the world needs a lot of changing. Fortunately, Jesus left us a step by step set of instructions,
The Gospel of Matthew is one of my favorites. Not a surprise that a lawyer loves the book written to convince those into the laws of the time, that Jesus was the one they had been waiting for. Chapter 25 has a story of God sorting those worthy to go into Heaven and those not. A scary thought for those of us who are into God’s grace, the thought of our forgiving creator God, sorting us into the worthy and unworthy piles. However, taken as step by step instructions for how to change the world, it’s perfect.
In the modern, Message translation : these folks are worthy because they did any of the following to someone overlooked or ignored by society:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a home,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.
The ills of our world seem so overwhelming: hunger, lack of clean drinking water, homelessness, poverty, illness, violence, crime and a lack of hope. Then again, I’m sure living in a city of dying, poor people was daunting to Agnesë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She began her career trying to serve God, not sure what to do.
What she found, was that her destiny was to serve those at the bottom rung of the world, those dying in the gutters of her city one of the most hellish places on the planet. She began simply trying to give one person a place to die in peace and with some measure of comfort. Her advice for changing the world, take baby steps on the path above. Pretty good advice, but even better when you realize it comes from a Nobel Peace Prize winner who you know as Mother Theresa.
So we’ll start with baby steps and beyond, but again, that’s what you have to start with. In 1982, Karen Olsen was a marketing executive in New Jersey. Everyday she passed a homeless woman, Millie, on the street. Finally, she stopped and bought Millie a sandwich. By 1986, Karen helped found what was then called Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). By 1989, IHN went national, using the unused rooms in churches and synagogues to provide housing for homeless families. Last year, IHN, which is now called Family Promise, helped 45,000 otherwise homeless families.
Two years ago, Cheri got an answer that made the world look a little messed up as well. The Methodist Church wants to plant ten new churches in the Toledo Area. They have invested over a decade plus and thousands of dollars training Cheri to be a church planter. And to say people in power nudged her to plant a church, is a mild rewrite of the facts. So, Cheri, after a year or more of study, prayer and planning, proposed The Village. The answer from the powers that be was a resounding “NO”.
Now, that could have been that. Cheri could have just taken the next, safe appointment and helped another church do what it was doing. But she did not. We, her team, could have just taken this rejection and given up, but I am proud to say we did not. Our reaction, “well, we’re going to “be the church”, and eventually we will be called a church”. And that’s what we did.
Two years ago, a Christmas time, a group of us gathered, as the Village and one of our first acts was not a study, not worship, not even a social outing. No, we provided a Christmas time meal and a night’s worth of fun and entertainment to a group of homeless families thanks to Family Promise.
From there, we are following the plan:
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink – we’ve given hundreds of water bottles out on a dozen or so occasions to our community and we’re just getting started.
I was hungry and you fed me – we’ve fed dozens of families and hundreds of people through Food For Thought, Family Promise, and The Saint Mark’s Community Meal.
I was homeless and you gave me a home – working with Habitat and Family Promise, we’re working to give dozens of people homes.
I was shivering and you gave me clothes – we’ve worked with Hannah’s Socks and St. Paul’s Community Center, and will continue to do so, to gather clothes for those who need them.
I was sick and you stopped to visit – the Village is working hard to expand healthcare in America as part of Interfaith Worker Justice/Jobs with Justice.
I was in prison, and you came to me – well, we need to work on this one, but Cheri does provide pastoral care to a young man serving twenty to life.
But we’re just getting warmed up here. The Village has only been worshiping together on a weekly basis for a few weeks. We’ve got lots more work to do as the Village is about following Jesus and thereby changing the world. What are you going to do to take your baby step this week? If you need some suggestions, come to our events page, or better yet come in person next Sunday and check out the get connected board.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
We had a little Halloween fun this week at the start of Cheri’s message. Cheri suggested we tell our neighbor who we would want to dress as for Halloween. I had hoped that my dear wife would want to go as a Star Wars character or something geeky, but no such luck. I did get a good laugh though as she tried to explain what a Flapper was to our band leader.
We then got to watch a great clip from one of my favorite movies, and boy am I getting real on admitting this one, “Must Love Dogs”. Yes, I’m a guy who likes a romantic comedy here and there. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about getting back into the dating scene after having been out of it for a time. Diane Lane (Sarah) is a forty year old school teacher getting back into the game, after a horrible break up, and things are not going well. Sarah goes on a newspaper personals ad date only to find out it is her Dad, lying through his teeth not only about his age but also about not being in a relationship. She even gets talked in putting an ad online by her sister. Then she drives Dad’s one girlfriend (of many) Dolly, home.
As they get to know each other, Dolly shows off her internet profiles. Dolly says “I love this internet, part fantasy, part community, and you get to pay your bills naked” (Yes, we did let the play in worship). Dolly explains to Sarah how she has to get onto more than one site. “You’ve got to get more bets on the table”, Dolly explains, as she shows Sarah her various profiles, some claiming to enjoy antiques, others skydiving and motorcycle riding. Dolly explains that you get to try on some many personalities, be anyone you want to be.
The internet certainly has added a layer of masks we can wear, so says the peaceful guy with a Mafia Wars profile (hey maybe that’s why Cheri said she wanted to be a “Flapper” for Halloween), among other personas and characters online and in video games. And nothing lets you have alternative personas and masks like dating, especially in the internet age. Cheri and I both know that one. Back when we were single, we got to go on lots of blind dates.
I tried blind dates set up by friends, so did she. I tried a newspaper ad or two, some more creative than others “Job not a joke, I’m not quite broke, but my love life’s DOA” (yes, that theme song), was my ad on arriving in Toledo dateless and desperate about 14 or so years ago. But then Memorial Day weekend on 1996, after a date from, well this is a church blog so we’ll stop there, I got talked into putting an Ad on a part of America On Line (yes, the internet existed back in Age of Dinosaurs and before Facebook) called Netgirl. I went so far as to create another screen name so that if I got a stalker out of the deal, well, I’d be ok. Amazingly, I found a woman online who I wanted to meet. After a series of careful moves to ensure we were not about to date an ax murder or similar type, we met. A year and a week later, I married Cheri, the woman who responded to the Ad “Nice Guys Finnish Last, Prove Me Wrong”.
Our Scripture this week was about intimacy, being able to be yourself in the presence of another. Chapter 4 of John’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus and his followers stopping in a town in Symaria. Now, today we think about Samaritans as good folks, The Good Samaritan is held up as an example of a good person in all aspects of culture today, there are even Good Samaritan laws to protect do-gooders. However, back then, Jews looked at Samaritans as the lowest of the low and the feelings were pretty mutual. So, this would be kind of like Jesus and friends passing through Taliban controlled territory in Afghanistan and stopping for a drink.
At the community well, it’s mid day and Jesus meets a local woman. Now, at the time, that would be the last time in the world someone would go to the well. Think middle of the night now. You didn’t go to the well at midday, it was hot, it was dusty, you only went then if you were trying to avoid people. Well, she was. She was not exactly thought of well in the community. And, lo and behold Jesus gets real with her. He talks to her about her five husbands and the man she is living with now. He talks to her about the real him, going so far as to reveal his true nature to her. He and she both put their masks aside and share a deep conversation with each other. And for a moment, real community happens.
Isn’t that we are all looking for now? In person or online, don’t we want a community of people with whom we can relax and be our real selves with. It’s scary to think about letting down our guards, sharing our thoughts, our fears, our dreams. But deep down, it’s what we want. A family, a group of friends, a church where we can be ourselves. It’s what the sociologists tell us is missing in our digital culture and it’s why many of us have left churches and won’t go to others. That feeling that church is NOT a place where we can get real. We have to put on a show, “I’m great” when our heart is broken up, etc. But we long for it.
At the Village, one of our core values is Authenticity, or being real. We always want you to be who you are here. And we are trying to foster connection groups where you can do just that. Not mega church worship celebrations where you slip in, get entertained, and slip out. Real community where you can be you. Where you can share your fears, your hurts and your joys. Where you can unload the baggage we all have.
In worship today, we had a chance to go to a mirror, and start with, quietly or on paper, letting go of what we feel we need to let go of. So try that now, when you log off. Go to a mirror, by yourself and let go of that baggage about whatever the bad things you feel you’ve done or not done. Confession, to us, is not something we feel you need to do to a “priest or pastor”. God knows what we’ve done, but it helps us to let it out. But, when you’ve done that, take things a step further. You see God knows all of the bad we’ve done, but God still loves us, yes, even you, whomever’s voice of doubt just shot up. God loves you and God has a better message than you’re letting through. Go listen for that other voice. You’ll know you’ve got it when you start hearing a message like this “I love you and you’re worthy, special, important to me”. That’s the voice of the God who created you as you, faults, flaws and all. Start hearing that voice a little first, then find out how you can use the gifts and talents you see later, to help others along this path with you.
At the Village, we want you to be you. So, come get real with yourself and others first, and then Connect with the world. There are a whole lot people out there who can only hear that first voice, the one we create with all the negatives. They need to hear that other voice, and that’s one of the ways we can change the world, starting here at the little corner of Monroe & Central in Toledo. Are you ready to put aside your masks, get real and hear that voice? Do you need some help finding it? Either way, we here, every Sunday and beyond. Come join us.