Dear Resurrection Family,
As I’ve been watching parts of the Olympics each day, I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s frequent use of sports metaphors, drawn from the ancient Greek games. In his day, the Olympics were one of four major games, a different set of competitions held each year in different parts of ancient Greece, together known as the Panhellenic Games. Paul regularly used athletic metaphors drawn from the games to encourage and teach his hearers in the Christian life. I’ll share some of his words with you at the end of this eNote. But first, I have several important updates from around the church…
This weekend Pastor Scott concludes his sermon series on “Influencers.” Last weekend he challenged us to consider mentoring and influencing younger people – both our own children and grandchildren, but also other children in the church. This is one of the most Christlike things we do as we follow Jesus who welcomed and blessed the children. If you’ve been thinking about this and want to learn more about serving in our ministries with children or students, here’s a link you can use to get more information.
In this weekend’s message, we’ll look at how we’re influencing people whether we’re conscious of it or not. People are watching us. It’s been said that “we are the only gospel some people will ever read.” In what ways are our lives a reflection of the gospel? What kind of influence are you having? What kind of influence could you have? I’m looking forward to this weekend’s message!
Be an influencer… invite a friend to join you for worship, in-person worship at 9 or 11 am, at one of our locations, online or on television this weekend. Click here for our physical locations or for information about joining us online or on television.
On Monday of this week, I travelled to the Bob Dole Federal Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas to sit down with the Chief Judge of the US District Court of Kansas, the Honorable Judge Julie Robinson, to talk about faith and life. Judge Julie is a founding member of the Church of the Resurrection. She was the first African American to be appointed to the US District Court in the District of Kansas, appointed by President Bush in 2001. She’s presided at some of the most important cases in this court during her tenure. This weekend in worship, I’ll share three minutes from our conversation in which she talks about how she sees her work on the bench as a redemptive calling in which she lives out that part of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I know you’ll be inspired by her words as she seeks to be an influencer for Christ.
Next Tuesday evening, at my evening Vespers, you’ll be able to hear the rest of my conversation with Judge Robinson. We’ll talk about faith, the criminal justice system, racial injustice, and we’ll hear her thoughts on something you may have been hearing about, Critical Race Theory. We had a deeply meaningful conversation, one that will inspire and inform you – join me for this conversation next Tuesday night at 7:30 pm central time at Pastor Adam Hamilton on Facebook. It will also be available to view on YouTube after Tuesday night. I think you’ll find this to be a compelling Vespers that will encourage and inspire you.
I return to the pulpit the weekend of August 14/15. That weekend we’ll be kicking off a new sermon series and church-wide study of what most scholars consider the most important of all of the New Testament’s letters, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, which is, in essence, the Gospel According to St. Paul. The letter, about the same length as the Gospel of Mark, can seem intimidating to Christians. Yet it contains some of the most powerful, compelling and inspiring words in the entire New Testament. In it Paul makes the case for the gospel he preached, a gospel of salvation by grace through faith.
Each week I’ll take up one of the major themes in the book, focusing on two or three chapters at a time. We’ll have a memory verse corresponding to that week’s theme. The GPS will help you to read through the book of Romans, verse by verse. And we’ll be launching new small groups where you’ll have a chance to connect with new friends while discussing this important letter together. If you are in a small group that hasn’t met in a while, you might consider restarting to study Romans together. We’ll have terrific study guides put together for this. During the week we’ll have groups meeting on Zoom or in person at our various locations.
Don’t miss this opportunity to meet new friends and grow deeper in your faith in this remarkable study of the New Testament’s most important letter!
Small group leaders play an important role in helping group members connect with each other and the material they are teaching. Some small groups are held online. Others happen around a table at the church, or in people’s homes. The purpose of these groups is to help participants grow in their faith while developing meaningful relationships.
Leading a small group does not require you to be the teacher, though some small group leaders serve in this role. Often small group members take turns leading the discussion. But the small group leader helps the group connect together, organizes and facilitates the meetings and discussion and seeks to engage and care for the group. As we kick off the fall, we’re in need of small group leaders. Is God calling you to be a small group leader? I promise you’ll get far more out of doing this than you put into it. Training and resources are provided.
If you’re interested in learning more, we have a small group leader training event coming up August 10 at 6:30 pm offered online and in person at each of our locations. No commitment required, just attend the event and explore if this is something for you. Click here to sign up.
If you are a current small group or class leader, register now and join us for the training and celebration on August 10 to connect with friends and hear what’s new. Whether you’re a small group leader, classroom teacher, or serve in any area of our Discipleship ministry, we hope to see you there!
This coming Tuesday is a primary election day for several cities in Johnson County. The primary will narrow down the field of candidates running for Mayor of Overland Park and Edgerton as well as narrowing down the field of those running for City Council in Lenexa, Merriam, Olathe and Overland Park, and filling a school board position in Olathe. These are important elections, but often only small numbers of people vote in them. If you live in one of these municipalities, I’d like to encourage you to do a bit of homework, and then to vote. We have several Resurrection members or attendees running, and I’m praying for you and all of the candidates and the voters as I write this eNote.
There is also an election on August 3 in Jackson County pertaining to School District No. 4 that relates to Blue Springs schools. I’m not as clear about the details of this election, but encourage those of you in these communities to find out more and to vote.
I want to say thank you to Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach for his leadership and service to Overland Park the last sixteen years. Mayor Gerlach is a member of Resurrection and he’s seen his work as Overland Park’s mayor as his calling. Public service is a high calling and a powerful way to positively impact the community.
This is the final weekend for our Partner School Support Drive as we help equip the students in our partners schools for a new school year. We have a large number of school supply bags remaining at our locations that you can pick up and fill this weekend. Resurrection supports more than 3,000 students at our nine partner schools, so these supplies are needed now and throughout the year. Each bag has a list of back-to-school supplies for a specific grade level. The average cost of supplies is $40. Monetary donations are also welcome and will be used throughout the year to keep the classrooms supplied.
Kelly Williams has served on our staff the last 27 years. She began as our business manager, overseeing facilities, IT, HR and Finance (we had one facility, a dozen staff people and no website or network yet!). She’s played a pivotal part of the growth and ministry of the church. As the church grew her focus was on leading our finance team where she serves as our Director of Finance. She’s also taught church finance to pastors in the seminary, taught at our Leadership Institute, and she’s served in broader roles in our denomination.
Kelly recently announced her plan to retire later this fall. She’s looking forward to spending more time with her children and grandchildren, though you will still see her around volunteering and serving. She’s helping us identify and interview candidates who will step into her position and plans to help in the training and transition. I mention this transition now because you’ll see an opening for this position, and you may know someone who would be outstanding in this role. For Kelly, the church’s finances were never simply about dollars and cents, but about mission and ministry. I’m grateful for her ministry, and excited for her as she thinks about retirement after an amazing career. You can find out more about this position by clicking here.
Yesterday I sent a special email to update you related to the recent increases in COVID cases here in Kansas City. If you missed the email, you can read it here. As I shared, we are carefully watching what is happening in the metro area and following the directives of our local cities and counties.
We’re making plans for relaunching and expanding our ministries this fall, but as we do, we’re also being mindful of safety. I shared in the e-mail yesterday that, according to our survey we took of the congregation last week, 95% of you are fully vaccinated, far higher than the numbers of people vaccinated in the Kansas City area as a whole. That makes being in worship at Resurrection one of the least likely places to contract COVID. And, being vaccinated greatly reduces the likelihood of contracting COVID and thus spreading it to others.
As we have our fall kick-off August 15, we’re making plans for a safe return to in-person worship and programming, but we will also continue to have televised worship, and online worship and programming. I am grateful that we have options, and I’m looking forward to the exciting things we have planned for the fall! Be sure to watch for my eNote next Friday as I’ll be sharing more about our fall plans then.
Let’s end by coming back to the Olympics. Around 51 AD Paul arrived in Corinth where he would remain for 18 months, starting a church and leading people to faith. The Isthmian Games were held near Corinth that year. Two years later, the Nemean Games were held not far away. The people of Corinth were undoubtedly as passionate about these games as many Kansas City residents are about the Chiefs, the Royals or Sporting KC. A short time later, when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he drew upon their passion for the games using athletes and their competitions as an analogy for the Christian life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he writes,
Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies. So now this is how I run—not without a clear goal in sight. I fight like a boxer in the ring, not like someone who is shadowboxing.
The Olympic athletes we’ve been watching the last week have spent much of their lives training for these games. They are passionate and devoted to giving their very best. They pursue self-discipline, they exercise, they practice and they give it their all. Paul says that’s how we’re meant to pursue our walk with Christ.
At Resurrection we speak of five essential practices every “athlete” should pursue if they are seeking to “run to win.” These are 1. Worshipping together and daily prayer on our own, 2. Studying together in small groups and reading scripture on our own, 3. Serving together as a church to positively impact our community and daily acts of kindness, 4. Giving to God and God’s work with others through the church, and practicing a generous lifestyle towards others, and 5. Sharing our faith as a church, being the light of the world, and individually seeking to influence others for Christ and his Kingdom.
This week Simone Biles, perhaps the world’s greatest gymnast, was struggling with the “twisties,” ultimately withdrawing from competing in the events to date. I wonder how Paul might have seen in this an analogy for the Christian life?
Has there ever been a time when in your personal life or your walk with Christ, you experienced the twisties – a time when you felt disoriented, gripped with fear, lost your confidence or were not at your best? Biles stepped back to give her teammates a chance to win. She cheered them on even when she couldn’t compete. She is a reminder that even champions falter at times and need to regroup. And she’s been practicing each day, reminding me that even when we falter, we don’t give up. Where have you seen spiritual lessons in this year’s Summer Olympics?
My hope for me and for you too is that we might daily pursue our walk with Christ as those longing to gain the crown of life – not just heaven, but a life here and now in which we accomplished God’s purposes for us and in which we grew in our love for Christ and others.
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