Dear Resurrection Family,
This weekend we begin the season of Advent and most of today’s enote is focused on Advent and Christmas! Advent is the four-week season when Christians pause to reflect upon, and ready themselves to celebrate, the birth of Jesus Christ, and when we remember his promise to come again one day. I’m so grateful for this season. Our focus for my Advent sermons this year will be on JOY.
Joy is found throughout the Bible, but it reaches a crescendo in the Christmas stories in Matthew and particularly Luke’s accounts of the birth of Christ. Click here to watch the video promo and share it on social media as a way of inviting your friends.
This weekend my sermon is entitled Finding Joy in the Darkness. We’ll hear from one of America’s leading theologians – Yale’s Miroslav Volf – whose research at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture is focused on joy (we interviewed him when he was here last month and I’ll share a bit of that interview). We’ll also look to see how the Israelites, the New Testament apostles, and many others have found joy in their darkest moments.
Invite a friend to join you this weekend as we learn how to "Find Joy in the Darkness."
Do you have preschool or elementary school children or grandchildren? Join my family tonight for the Leawood children’s choir musical, Jingle Bell Beach from 7:15 pm to 8:00 pm in the Leawood sanctuary. It’s free and will be great fun for kids and their families. I’m really excited about hearing the kids tonight and sharing Advent with our granddaughter. This is open to families from all campuses.
Yesterday we cut the ribbon and dedicated the new Leawood kid’s playground! During the school year, from 9 am to 1 pm, it is reserved for use by our Discovery Ark preschool, but before and after worship and after school we want your kids to be able to enjoy it (with parental supervision). If you attend Resurrection Leawood, stop by after worship (or before worship if you attend the evening services). Here are a couple of pictures from the grand opening:
Thanks to all who contributed in the 10,000 Reasons and Finishing What We Started campaigns for making this safe and fun playground possible!
Continuing the theme of children and Christmas, KiDSCOR is sponsoring a family night at the movies to see the animated Christmas movie, The Star. We’ve reserved a theatre Saturday morning, December 9, at the Overland Park B&B. Tickets are $5.50 per person. The movie starts at 10 am (doors open at 9:30 am). LaVon and I took the kids to see it and it was great fun. Click here to purchase your tickets.
A brief update on our annual stewardship campaign: I’m so grateful for each of you who have returned your annual stewardship commitment card to date. We’ve seen an uptick in the number of cards returned at each campus. The average commitment is also up (not only from last year, but from the first week of the campaign as well). The average commitment to date is $4,142, with some campuses less than that and others higher. Thank you to each of you who have returned your cards.
Overall, we’ve received 44% of the cards back at this point compared with 40% at this point last year (Blue Springs has led the way with 71% of their cards returned – great job Resurrection Blue Springs!). Our hope is that every member will return a commitment card. If you’ve yet to make your 2018 stewardship commitment would you take a moment to do so now? You can click here to make your commitment and we’ll have a 2018 coffee mug waiting for you at church on Sunday (stop by the connection point) as our thank you for making your commitment. Your giving matters – it is an expression of your faith and faithfulness, and it is a way of participating in, and making possible, every ministry of the church. Again, thank you to all who have returned your cards or made online commitments to date.
Christmas at Resurrection begins next week! This amazing celebration of Christmas includes more than 300 musicians, dancers, actors and vocalists. It has become a Kansas City Christmas tradition. Performances run from Thursday, December 7 through Sunday, December 10. I’m excited to experience Christmas at Resurrection in the new Leawood sanctuary. You can purchase tickets online by clicking here. You can watch a preview video by clicking here.
Calling all bakers! We will provide Christmas cookie boxes to bless the staff at Quindaro Elementary School – one of our urban school partners. Bring two dozen or more of your favorite Christmas cookies in labeled disposable containers and put them on the metal shelving racks in the Bldg. A Mission Ministries space Dec. 9-10.
I was recently on a couple of podcasts that I thought you might enjoy listening in on. Joe Lovino hosts a podcast called Get Your Spirit in Shape, and we talked about St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. You can hear it here. Resurrection’s own Wendy Connelly hosts an excellent podcast called The Lift and I was recently on her program discussing world religions. That podcast is in two parts. Hear part one by clicking on this link and part two is found here.
I wanted to end with a word about sexual harassment. Once more this week there were prominent figures released from their jobs for sexual harassment. Yesterday at our weekly Staff Chapel I spoke with our staff about sexual harassment. We watched a video clip from ABC News with a panel of women describing sexual harassment in the work place. We viewed a six-minute video on sexual harassment that is a part of our RezAcademy online training for our employees. We read through the EEOC’s definitions of sexual harassment, the United Methodist Church’s definitions of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, and our employee manual’s section on sexual harassment. We spoke about how to report sexual harassment and our expectations for how we treat one another, and why sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are not in keeping with our faith and not acceptable conduct.
While the sexual harassment we hear about in the news is usually related to attempts to coerce others into sexual acts, sexually suggestive comments or inappropriate touch, another form of sexual harassment involves demeaning words or jokes about gender. We spent time discussing these words, generalizations, and jokes that may not feel funny to those who hear them. Among the scriptures that I think are important in speaking to this are Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8,
God's will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. Don't be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don't know God. No one should mistreat or take advantage of their brother or sister in this issue. The Lord punishes people for all these things, as we told you before and sternly warned you. God didn't call us to be immoral but to be dedicated to him. Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn't rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
For those of you in management or leadership, have you had a conversation with your employees about your expectations, what constitutes hurtful language or behavior in the workplace and how to report sexual harassment? I’m guessing your employees would appreciate knowing that you care, and that you are seeking to ensure that your workplace is a safe space where all are respected. Click here to see the ABC News clip I shared as we began our conversation.
I’d end by telling you once again how proud I am of you, and grateful to be your pastor. I think of all the things you are doing as individual Christians and as a church to bring light and love and joy to the world. You are making a difference in the lives of thousands and thousands of people in Kansas City, and so many more beyond, as you seek to live as committed disciples of Jesus Christ, embodying his light, love and life in your own.
See you in worship!
P.S. I thought you might enjoy seeing the trailer for a new award-winning film about Sonia Warshawski, a legend here in Kansas City, whom you’ve heard at Resurrection – she survived the holocaust and her story is amazing and inspirational. I love Sonia – the film has its launch tonight at the Glenwood Arts Theatre. Here's the link.
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