Dear Resurrection Family,
It was great to see so many of you at Ash Wednesday services this week as we began the season of Lent. The 40 days of Lent are a time of spiritual reflection and introspection, repentance and fasting, as we walk with Jesus towards the cross and resurrection.
Our Lenten sermon series this year is called The Walk: Five Essential Practices of the Christian Life. Each week we’ll consider one of these practices that the Bible teaches, Jesus practiced and Christians through the last two thousand years have used to grow spiritually and to be the people God intends them to be. (Click here to watch the one-minute promo - it mentions all five practices). Each practice has a corporate dimension – what we do with others, and a personal dimension – what we do daily on our own.
This week we begin with focus on the essential practice of WORSHIP. We were created for worship, to reflect God’s glory. The Bible calls us to do everything for the glory of God. The Westminster Catechism famously noted that the primary purpose of our existence is “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” My sermon this weekend will look at both corporate worship and the daily practice of prayer, praise and expressing thanks to God. We’ll find that in both weekly worship, and our daily cultivation of a heart of gratitude to God, we experience the life God intends for us.
Don’t forget, this weekend Daily Saving Time Begins – we’ll be Springing Forward.
If you are on Spring Break this week, or out of town, please join us online. Each year I challenge you, as an expression of your devotion, to be in worship every weekend of Lent.
Our journey through Lent began on Wednesday, March 6, with Ash Wednesday, as we are preparing our hearts and minds for the Easter celebration. It's not too late to join our Lenten Study!
Choose the night of the week that works best for you: Tuesday (Grow Night), Wednesday (Family Night) or Thursday (Care Night). Each evening will follow the same format, and pastors and teachers from our Care and Discipleship ministries will lead the teaching and discussion. A special Lenten Journal will be provided to guide you through the journey each day of the week. You will experience together...
Stop in the Narthex this weekend and see the pieces of art we have added for the Season of Lent. We have 4 of the 14 Stations of the Cross on loan to us from Eva Reynolds Fine Art, Inc. at Prairie Fire.
The Stations of the Cross also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Way of the Cross, drawing upon both the Bible and early church tradition to retrace the events of Jesus’ life on Good Friday, from his sentencing by Pontius Pilate to his burial. They were designed as a devotional tool to help Christians to remember Christ’s suffering. The four stations we have on loan are: Station 4, “Jesus meets his Mother”; Station 9, “Jesus falls for the third time”; Station 12, “Jesus dies on the Cross”; and Station 13, “Jesus is taken down from the cross.”
These pieces are by an American sculptor named Dennis Smith. His work and presence have been a driving force in sculpture in the United States. His work is in hundreds of public and private collections, in museums and public squares throughout the United States and many countries of the world. More of his work can be seen on the County Club Plaza.
I hope you will take the time to stop and ponder these pieces as we go through Lent. We will incorporate these sculptures in our prayer walk for the Good Friday Prayer Vigil.
Enjoy the talents of Resurrection and guest musicians each Wednesday during Lent from 12:15 - 12:45 pm in the Foundry Commons. On this coming Wednesday, March 13, hear Courtney Koval and Rachel Adcock. Lunch is available for purchase from the Spring Cafe before and after the concert.
Here is a list of the concerts for the remaining weeks of Lent:
We hope you’ll be able to attend one or more of these concerts during this Lenten season.
The theme this year is, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me!” Kindergarten through 5th grade campers will explore the qualities of being a good friend and learn that Jesus is their best friend with the help of our friends from Toy Story. During the week, kids will experience lots of fun along with meaningful small group experiences all centered on friendship.
We’re offering an art class for widows and widowers, taught by artist Carol Rondinelli, who lost her husband this last year, and co-sponsored by our Grief Ministry.
The class gives aspiring artists a chance to connect with others and learn artistic skills as you continue to process your grief. It will be held March 16, 2019, 1-3 pm in Building B, Room B152. This is a colored pencil and graphite class in Realism. Anyone can be an artist... it just takes practice!
Come and enjoy learning a new skill and using artistic expression to process your grief. We ask that you please bring your own set of colored pencils and a kneadable eraser. We prefer Prismacolor Premier pencils as they are a student grade pencil. Do NOT buy Prismacolor Verithin as they are too light and pastel. There is a $5 donation for class supplies. To register (required), please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to end with a personal word about the conflict within the United Methodist Church (UMC), particularly during and in the aftermath of the church’s General Conference that ended ten days ago. About 1,300 of you joined me at Resurrection Leawood last Sunday night for a town hall, and another 6,000+ joined online. You can see that town hall meeting here (scroll down past the on-demand worship services).
I’ve been asked why this matters so much to me. Why not just accept the will of the majority of delegates at General Conference? Why speak up and risk alienating people? I’ve asked myself this question many times over the years. Why does this matter so much to me?
The answer comes in part because I believe that the scriptures used to justify our current position are like other passages in the Bible that were once used to support unjust practices (slavery, beating children with rods, the subordination of women, and genocide, to name a few). The biblical authors, in addition to being inspired by the Spirit, were also shaped by their historical context – they were people of their time. This is why we interpret scripture and don’t simply read it saying, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” I do not believe the handful of verses in the Bible that speak about some form of same-sex acts reflect the gay and lesbian people I know nor God’s view of them. They reflect, in my view, the practices and understanding of the biblical authors and the times in which they lived.
But more than the concern for how we read the Bible, I have a concern for people. This last ten days I’ve received over 1,500 emails, letters, and direct messages on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve also had over 5,000 comments on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve not had a chance to read each one, but I have read hundreds and hundreds of them. Over and over again people said they were grateful we were speaking up for their child, friend, neighbor, or grandchild. Many of these comments were from our LGBTQ members who told me of the pain they had experienced in churches and from Christians before they came to Resurrection. We have at least ten families in our church whose gay or lesbian children took their own lives, who were grateful we were speaking up in the hope that other children would not feel rejected by churches the way their kids had.
I look at the couples I know in same-sex marriages who are members of our church, several raising children, and they are faithful, committed to Christ, seeking to love God and neighbor. They worship, serve, give and share their faith with others.
Around 95% of the email and messages I’ve received from Resurrection members have expressed gratitude that we are speaking against the policy approved by General Conference and standing up for our gay and lesbian members. Of the 5% who felt different, most were gracious and simply wanted to know if they still had a place at Resurrection. Since I will not have a chance to answer each email, I want you to hear me say that you are welcome here. I want you here. All I ask is that we love and welcome all who come to the church regardless of who they are, the very things most of you said you wanted to do.
To those who have been hurt by the denomination’s decision last week at General Conference, and who have thought about leaving, I’m also asking you to stay, and to see that the decision of General Conference does not reflect your pastor, your church, nor most of the United Methodist Churches in the United States. You have heard me say again and again that I love you. You know that I and most of our congregation are with you and are working to change the policies of the UMC. When you leave, you are one less voice, one less person helping to change the church. As your pastor, I want you to stand with us as we are standing with you.
Where is the denomination going from here? I’m in conversations every day about this. I offered my reflections on a new blog I posted this morning that you can read here.
Many of you have expressed concern for me personally. Thank you. Your notes and hugs have meant a great deal to me. I’m a bit tired physically, emotionally and spiritually, but I’m really doing fine. I am on vacation next week with LaVon, and I’m looking forward to turning off social media, email and my phone... and simply resting.
I love you, Church of the Resurrection, all of you – our LGBTQ members, our traditionalists, our progressives and our centrists. I love you.
I’ve got to run now, Stella turned five today and I’m heading to her birthday party. I’ll tell you a bit about it in my sermon this weekend and the connection between her party, what LaVon and I got her for her birthday, and the meaning of worship!
In Christ’s Love,
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