Dear Resurrection Family,
Like most of you, I’ve been watching with sadness and dismay the events taking place in Ukraine. Seeing Russian rockets fired on Ukraine, troops and tanks heading towards Kyiv, and the people fleeing is deeply disturbing.
Unjust war is an expression of the dark side of the human condition. It is usually precipitated by the desire for power, wealth, control, revenge and sometimes to force one’s worldview, religion, ideology, politics or will upon another. There are times when engaging in war is morally justified; when one engages in war to defend oneself or others, to prevent greater harm to others or to liberate others, war may be justified. In his speeches, President Putin sought to describe the attack on Ukraine as pre-emptive, defensive and aimed at liberating. Most of the time the aggressor feels justified in their actions. Most of the world does not agree with Putin and sees this attack as unjust and immoral.
I’m reminded of just how much of the Old Testament was written anticipating war, in the midst of war, and in the aftermath of war. In the New Testament, Jesus predicts more war, including Rome’s march into the Holy Land in 66 AD that ultimately resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple (see Matthew 24). The New Testament ends with the Book of Revelation where there are two final battles, Armageddon and the Last Battle; the first is symbolic of human evil and the second, of God’s ultimate defeat of it.
God grieves the violence humans inflict upon one another. That was the point of the story of Noah and the ark. Genesis 6:13 notes, “God said to Noah, ‘The end has come for all creatures, since they have filled the earth with violence.’” In Isaiah 2:4 (and its parallel in Micah 4:3), we find Isaiah’s vision for humanity, “God will judge between the nations, and settle disputes of mighty nations. Then they will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war.” Interestingly, in 1959 the Soviet Union presented a sculpture that sits in front of the United Nations in New York of this very vision. This same vision is also captured in the right hand corner of our stained glass window at our Leawood location. You can see both images below (click to enlarge).
In the meantime, what do we do? Resurrection has long ties to the United Methodist Churches in Ukraine and Russia. I’ve been to Ukraine once, and four times to Russia. A number of you have been there or helped in supporting churches there. I reached out to Bishop Eduard Khegay, who has been the shepherd for the United Methodist Churches of Ukraine and Russia, offering support. He wrote a very courageous piece on Facebook about his opposition to the attack. We’ve spoken about providing aid, through his churches, to refugees and the possibility of helping support peace dialogues among Ukrainian and Russian United Methodists. One thing I’d like to ask you to do right now, as you are reading this, is to stop to pray. Pray for Bishop Khegay and for the United Methodist pastors and laity in Ukraine and Russia. I told him I would be calling you to join me in praying that God will use him and them as peacemakers and that God would strengthen, encourage and enfold them in his grace and love, particularly those under attack right now. Will you join me in praying for the political leaders in Ukraine, for wisdom in how to protect their people, and for those in Russia, that they will be moved to stop this attack. And let us pray for the diplomats and other world leaders, for wisdom and courage to know how to diffuse this conflict.
This weekend Pastor Scott Chrostek will complete his two-week series The Great Transformation by looking at Flexibility, Adaptability and an Openness to Change. One thing that has been consistent during the pandemic has been the need for flexibility. Throughout his ministry, Jesus modeled flexibility, adaptability and a general openness to interruption. And, he met people right where they were, caring for them and inviting them to follow him. Scott will help us explore how re-evaluating our priorites can help us be more flexible and meet people where they are as parents, spouses, friends, neighbors and co-workers. I thought last week’s sermon was excellent – it really spoke to me – and I know this week’s will be excellent as well.
Invite a friend to join you for worship!
IN PERSON at one of our five locations:
---Leawood location at 7:30, 9, 11 am (traditional at 11 in the Sanctuary, modern at 11 in the Foundry) or 5 pm
---Downtown location Saturday at 5 pm or Sunday at 9 or 11 am
---Blue Springs, West (Olathe) and Overland Park locations Sunday at 9 or 11 am.
ONLINE at cor.org on Saturday at 5 pm or Sunday at 7:30, 9 and 11 am or 5 pm
TELEVISION on KMCI Channel 38 at 8 am or 11 am
ON DEMAND on YouTube throughout the week
The season of Lent, the 40 days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter, is a time when Christians rededicate themselves to God and reflect upon their own need for God’s grace and the hope of the resurrection. We often take on extra spiritual practices as an expression of devotion and to help us grow in our faith. Five essential practices of the Christian life we emphasize here at Resurrection each include both personal and corporate practices. I’d like to encourage you to consider taking on these five practices this Lent:
I’d like to challenge you to be in worship every weekend of Lent. With COVID on the wane, if you are able, I’d like to invite you to join us in person each week of Lent. I’d also like to encourage you to use our GPS to read the entire Gospel of Luke during this season. I’d encourage you to sign up for one act of service through the church if you can, but even if you can’t, to intentionally practice daily acts of kindness for others including acts of extra-ordinary generosity. And, I’d like to encourage you to talk about your faith on social media or with others directly, and to invite someone to join you for Easter.
Finallly, many of us fast during Lent – this is giving up something you enjoy, so that each time you desire whatever it is, you are reminded of Christ’s giving his life for you, and your hunger or desire becomes an opportunity to express to God your even greater desire for him.
Lent begins next Wednesday. Over the next six weeks, we’ll have special opportunities for you to worship, study, serve, share and give. You can find these on our website: cor.org/Lent. Here are the opportunities beginning next week:
Ash Wednesday Worship
· In-person services at all locations at 7 pm on March 2, with prayer, the imposition of ashes and beautiful music. Childcare is available for those ages four and under.
· In-person worship in the Leawood Sanctuary at noon
· Family service at 6:15 pm for parents, children and students in Leawood Foundry (Bldg. B)
· Online worship with COR Collective music on demand throughout the day at cor.org/live and YouTube.
40 Days of Personal Transformation – New GPS Tool
During Lent, we’re encouraging you to ask yourself the question, “How do I want to be different by Easter?” And, we are providing a unique tool to help you transform your life during Lent. Beginning March 3, our daily GPS Guide will provide videos, scriptures, reflections, and practices to guide you as you take this journey through Lent to where you want to be by Easter. If you are not already receiving the GPS, go to cor.org/next and make sure you sign up to receive the email with these resources each day beginning March 3. If you're thinking about fasting during Lent, consider giving up a few minutes of time each day to use this tool on your journey of personal transformation.
Lent Sermon Series – Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts and Outlaws
I’ll be back in the pulpit next weekend as we begin the season of Lent. Most years we study a gospel together during Lent. I believe that every follower of Christ should read at least one gospel each year. This year we’ll return to the Gospel of Luke. I’ll be preaching on the stories of Jesus’ ministry with Outsiders, Outcasts and Outlaws. To borrow a phrase from Garth Brooks, we’ll be looking at Jesus’ “friends in low places.” Using the daily GPS (Grow, Pray and Study guide) you’ll have a chance to read through the gospel during Lent. We’ll have some small groups and an online study starting March 28 where you can discuss the scriptures with others.
I received a call from Dallas area Baptist pastor, Bob Roberts a few days after a gunman with explosives held a rabbi and three parishioners hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in the Dallas area. Bob had been among the folks helping the FBI trying to defuse the situation. Bob has been instrumental in forming a multi-faith network aimed at developing friendships among people of different faiths so that they can do the very things we’ve pledged as a church – to love our neighbors of other faiths and to stand with them if they are ever harassed or under attack. Pastor Roberts was organizing a gathering to help people hear and participate in a conversations with people of other faiths.
We’ll be hosting that conference, the Unlikely Conference, on Wednesday, March 9, at 7 pm at our Leawood location. I’d like to encourage you to attend. I’ll be part of the panel along with my friend, Rabbi Art Nemitoff. Bob Roberts will be there as well as leaders in the American Muslim community and others. I don’t want you to miss out on this opportunity to welcome and learn from our neighbors of different faiths. Here’s the website to register.
We are inviting the community to join us for this multi-faith event that includes participants and speakers from a variety of faith traditions. Sponsored by the Global Faith Forum, the goal is to foster greater understanding and build bridges so that we can better love our neighbors. Who do you know that you could invite to come with you?
Summer Serve Trips for students can be a life-changing experience, with adventure, fun and the opportunity to make a difference in the world! Check out the variety of trips open to students grade 6 through High School. Registration is now open, with an early bird discount if you register by March 9. Here’s the link to learn more and get your students signed up.
Vacation Bible Camp is going to be an amazing four days of fun, friendship and faith-building at all of our locations July 18 – 21 with our theme “Hero U.” VBC is open to children currently in Kindergarten through 5th grade, but Pre-K and younger may attend when an adult serves for the four days of camp. Registration opens to everyone March 1, but if you volunteer, you can register your children and grandchildren now. Here’s the link.
February has been Black History Month, and I hope you’ve taken advantage of the interesting resources our team has put together to help us honor the contributions Black Americans have made to our country, city and the United Methodist Church. You can still check out the full list on our website. If you’d like to get more engaged, I encourgage you to get involved with Allies for Racial Justice, our partnership with St. James UMC. This great group is committed to forging authentic relationships to eliminate the existing racial divide in our communities and churches. They sponsor studies, events and provide a variety of resources that help us better understand our differences, appreciate our similiarities and establish Christ-centered solutions to end racial and social injustices. You can check out their website and subscribe to their newsletter here.
Join me at 7:30 pm CT on Facebook Live, at my Facebook page: Pastor Adam Hamilton on Facebook for Tuesday Vespers. This coming Tuesday is known among Christians as Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras – the night before Lent begins. It’s tradition to eat pancakes for supper on this day, or foods you might be giving up for Lent. We’ll talk about the why and what of Lent and the traditions related to it, and what you might do to observe a meaningful Lent. You’ll also be able to view it on my Facebook page or the church’s YouTube page after Tuesday night.
As you read this I’m on the homestretch completing the manuscript of a book I’m writing on John the Baptist for churches across the US to use for this Advent. I’m about 90% finished, and I have to turn it in to the publisher by Sunday night at midnight. I’ll be writing all weekend except when I stop to worship at Church of the Resurrection. If you’ve read this far in my note, would you pause to pray that God will inspire me as I contine the final bit of work on this new book? My prayer is that God will use me to prepare a book that will help people grow deeper in their faith. I’d be grateful for your prayers.
In Christ’s love,
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