3.5.15 Insight from Mike Wilhoit

mwilhoitMike Wilhoit serves at The Church of the Resurrection as Local Missions Director.

I grew up just northeast of New York City. Every summer, my family of four traveled to visit extended family in the Midwest. One summer, my Dad couldn’t make the trip. I was about 12. I spent most of the car trip in the front seat with my Mom. My younger sister Edie rode in the back seat with a horde of stuffed animals. One night, we pulled over at a Holiday Inn on the east side of Indianapolis. They didn’t have any open rooms, but they were able to book us a room at a Holiday Inn on the west side of Indianapolis. So, we got back in the car and drove 30 miles across town. Upon arrival, I unpacked the trunk and mom went in to confirm our reservation. Edie was slow in getting out so Mom told me to roust her. I opened the back door of the car and immediately realized we had a problem–Edie wasn’t in the backseat! Mom freaked. She yelled Edie’s name aloud and checked the women’s lobby restrooms at the hotel. After settling down a bit, Mom called the Holiday Inn at which we had originally stopped. Edie was there, crying and drinking a Coke with the front desk receptionist. The relief my mom felt when we went back to pick Edie up was palpable in their long embrace. To this day, some 40 years later, my mother still does not like to talk about this event.

Now that I am a father of four, I can only begin to imagine the angst my Mom, and Jesus’ mother Mary, felt when they couldn’t find their child. I believe today’s passage hints at the discomfort that Jesus is sometimes willing to let us endure so that we find our way back to church and ultimately Him.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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3.3.15 Insight from Steven Blair

Rev. Steven Blair is the Congregational Care Pastor of Live Forward and Live Well Emotional Wellness Ministry. www.cor.org/liveforward

Psalm 84:1-4, 10-12  Better is One Day
Feel free to listen to this four minute song during or after today’s GPS. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ndVRcqziKWA

Better is one day in your courts  than a thousand elsewhere;  – Psalm 84:10
The Temple courts referred to the concentric rectangles that centered on The Holy of Holies.  Even the outermost court that surrounded the Holy of Holies was thoroughly beautiful.  It was the place to be.  There are some Jews who would come to the Temple everyday (Simeon and Anna in Luke 2).  Others would only come to the Temple once or twice a year for the high holy days.   The feeling of awe did not ebb and flow through distance or frequency.

The Lord’s House was the best place to be, filled with beauty and compassion.

It still is.

For those who are more likely to be at Resurrection everyday and for those who currently come once or twice a year, come and dwell in the House of the Lord.   Come now and spend time in the current House. Come later and experience the next manifestation.

Now and later you will sing: My soul yearns, even faints,     for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out     for the living God.        Psalm 84:2

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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3.3.15 Insight from Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at the Vibe, West, and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

Solomon’s temple was truly something to behold. It featured gold-plated doors, it housed the ten commandments, and it stood for 470 years before an enemy nation finally burned it to the ground. The plans for the temple are recorded in great detail in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. But any architect (including this one–I’m a web development architect) will tell you that a building is nothing without its foundation.

But the foundation doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the architectural plans. That’s why today’s passage is so important. You’ll notice, Solomon doesn’t open up his dedication prayer talking about the temple–he opens up by talking about the people. He mentions the covenant God has made with His people. But then, he mentions that this covenant was made with his father–the faith foundation for this church (the people) and its temple was inter-generational.

The Bible has lots to say about generational worship. It says that our children will continue to pay for our sins, and it says that our children will continue to benefit from our faithfulness. Solomon’s temple was an inspiration to many generations, but it’s a continuation of the faithfulness of his father David.

I was not one of the first to step into Church of the Resurrection. I don’t remember the funeral home or the elementary school, or even the sanctuary that became our student center. I started attending in 2005, playing in various bands and getting involved with the young adult ministry. And you know what? I was glad to step into a church as well established as COR was at the time. I had come out of a very small church that literally only had three rooms, and could barely afford the instruments for the worship band. After that, COR was a whole new world teeming with opportunity and potential and exciting possibilities. I knew that by working with this church, I could accomplish a lot.

I was benefiting from the faithfulness of those who had come before me. The people who had been faithful while the church met in a funeral home, the people who faithfully set up and tore down in the elementary school–those are the people I thank for the opportunities I have at COR now.

Just like I want to leave the world a better place for my son, I want to leave the church (the people) better for those who have yet to come to join us. I can do this by raising up leaders and mentoring others in faith and action. I can do this by building relationships and forming bonds that will open up opportunities for those to come. I can do this by contributing to a church staff and building that has benefited me and so many others, and will continue to do even more in the future. These are all things that others have done for me without even knowing me. I will be happy to do them for the younger folks I know, and even those I don’t yet know.

We should be striving to leave such a legacy of faith that, when beginning a new work, our children in faith will pray, “Lord, let the promises you made to our faith-parents continue to come true in us.” We should be building a legacy that future generations would jump to be a part of. As COR begins this exciting new building project, don’t forget to pray that you yourself would be worthy of such a legacy–an intergenerational legacy of love, justice, and mercy that will continue on for years to come.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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3.2.15 Insight from Donna Karlen

Donna Karlen serves in Communications at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

At our groundbreaking worship celebrations this past weekend, I moved back and forth alongside the construction fence capturing on camera the moments when people tied their prayer ribbons to the chain links. Young or old, big or small, by themselves or with a crowd of family or friends, everyone seemed eager to participate. It was pretty cool to see. (Check for photos and videos at #rezbuilding)

As I focused my camera in on some of the blue, turquoise and white ribbons flapping in the winter wind, the words written on one of them caught my eye. On the side where we were told to write a prayer for how God might use our church, someone had written: “I pray this church offers a place for someone who feels lost.” And on the side where we were to write the names of those we hoped the church would help was the simple word: “Me.” And next to it in parenthesis: “See other side.”

I had no idea which service the person who wrote this might have attended, but my eyes darted from face to face of those nearby – wondering was it that teenage girl or this elderly woman or the man heading out to his car? I said a silent prayer for this person – wishing I could do more – as I walked towards the church.

When I reflected later on the message written on that ribbon, I felt a helpless sadness. Then I thought about it in light of a sentence in today’s Bible passage: “If you seek him, he will be found by you.” The ribbon said: “I pray this church OFFERS a place for someone who feels lost.” And in that one present tense verb was this person’s hope – pure and raw – that he or she would find the answer to their prayer at The Church of the Resurrection.

If you’re the person who wrote it – or maybe you’re feeling the same way – please know that Jesus came to save the lost. When you seek him, he WILL be found by you! (Resurrection would love to help you with your seeking. If you don’t know someone to talk to, you might start with www.cor.org/care.)

On my ribbon at the last groundbreaking worship celebration, I decided to write: “I pray this church offers a place for someone who feels lost.” And for the names of those who might be helped by Resurrection, I wrote: “See other side.”

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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2.28.15 Insight from Bryan Cisler

Bryan Cisler serves as the Digital Media Specialist at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

This weekend is the groundbreaking of our new building at Resurrection. When I read today’s scripture I can’t help but see the parallels. As you watch the groundbreaking, try to imagine all the events that are going to take place during this building’s life span.  There will likely be several scientific breakthroughs in how we produce and store energy that will spark a new wave of human innovation. There might be a tragic event that will test our strength. There could be a new civil rights event – even as forward thinking as we think we are – that will challenge how we view the world. For all of the people who walk through our building in the next hundred years, how will their experiences shape the way they react to these events? Will it be different than if they had never stepped in at all? Will they use their faith to make Kansas City feel more like the Tree of Life described in today’s scripture?

Obviously, it takes more than a building to change people’s hearts. It’s what they see, hear, and experience in the building that will shape how they act outside of it. Allow yourself to dream about what we can do in the present to joyfully serve with our time and talents, that will continue to pave the way for God to work through the countless number of lives that will enter this sacred space. Even if we aren’t around long enough to experience the fruits of what future generations accomplish at Resurrection, as the Greek proverb goes,  “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

 

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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2.27.15 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

During last week’s Confirmation Class, that I co-lead with Layne Funk, we had a great discussion about the Holy Spirit. Needless to say, there were still some lingering questions. Like in today’s passages, we considered viewing the Holy Spirit as Breath, Wind, & Fire. (Say, that would be a cool band name – DL. Let’s just pretend you didn’t say that – Editor.)

But some of the young men were struggling to find another metaphor to help illuminate & understand the idea of the Holy Spirit a little better. All metaphors tend to break down if carried too far, but let’s see what we can come up with. (Don’t worry. My finger remains poised over the delete key – Editor.)

With an audience of young men, we might try to liken the Holy Spirit to the “Force” from the Star Wars movie franchise. (Oh my. I fear we are boldly going where no man has gone before – Editor. Um, that’s Star T-r-e-k, not Star W-a-r-s – DL.) We know George Lucas deliberately included the “Force” in his movies to awaken a sense of spirituality in his young audience. But we also know the “Force” doesn’t really compare to the Holy Spirit. The “Force” is impersonal (The Bible uses personal pronouns when discussing the Holy Spirit), it can be used for good or bad (The Holy Spirit cannot contradict God.), & it is available only to a select few Jedi Knights (We all have equal access to the Holy Spirit regardless of where we are in our faith journey.). Let’s try again.

Picking up our son from basketball practice, I noticed several students solemnly walking monk-like with their heads down. Wow – probably deep in prayer or meditation. Alas, no. They were looking at their phones. Hmmm. What if we tried to compare the Holy Spirit to our smart phone?

Aside: How you can tell if someone has the new iPhone 6+? Don’t worry. They will tell you.

  • Our phone can provide us with good advice & information, like today might be the day to wear long pants to school since it is 5 degrees outside. Similarly, the Holy Spirit can serve as our counselor & teacher.
  • Our phone’s GPS capabilities can help with directions, say for example, from the kitchen table to the dishwasher. Likewise, the Holy Spirit can guide us when we feel lost.
  • Our phone can quickly relay a text that Mom is on her way back to school bringing your left-behind-basketball-shoes. The Holy Spirit is our comforter in times of need, too.
  • Finally, considering how many times we all tap our pockets to make sure our cell phone is still there, its mere presence offers us serenity. The Holy Spirit can be a source of peace for us as well.

However, as we begin to explore the various options/plans, we find that the Holy Spirit really begins to distinguish itself. The Holy Spirit’s plan is life-long, Its coverage encompasses the globe, It offers unlimited Talk & Text, Its Friends & Family plan is quite expandable, & though it comes at incredible expense, it is offered free of charge. So why not sign up today?

(What a relief. No cell phone related puns – Editor.) Do you know the real reason the buffalo died off? The roaming charges killed them. That’s like the old joke, [DELETE].

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

 

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2.26.15 Insight From Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. For 25 years, Amy has taught theology and history, pursuing scholarship in service of the church.  

Are you involved at Church of the Resurrection? Have you thought much about what the name of the church means? As I read John 20, I keep thinking about the name “Church of the Resurrection.” If a group of people wanted to live their lives in light of God’s 24/7, no-matter-what, unfailing Love, they might say, “We are people of the resurrection,” or they might call their church “Church of the Resurrection.” In fact, one description on cor.org (under “Our Story”) says, “At Resurrection, thousands of people continue to find hope, restoration and joy.” This is a great description of the events in John 20.

We celebrate the resurrection today, because Love has the last word. The resurrection proclaims that the only real power in the universe is the 24/7, no-matter-what, unfailing Love of God that remains after we humans have done our worst, like put Jesus to death on a cross. The world says that real power lies with those who are strongest, mightiest, or who show up with the most ammo, that violence and domination are sources of strength and victory. In Jesus’ time, the Roman Empire had the most power, the most weapons, the most bragging rights. Yet even Rome’s attempt to silence God’s radical, self-giving Love by killing Jesus did not have the last word.

Here at Church of the Resurrection, our whole church family stands as a sign of this world-changing good news. We live our lives in light of God’s 24/7, no-matter-what, unfailing Love and share that love with the world, in lots of different ways, with lots of different voices. We are people of the resurrection!

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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2.25.15 Insight from Angela LaVallie

Angela LaVallie is the Worship Logistics Program Director at Resurrection. She oversees preparing the Sanctuary for worship, supports Vibe worship and volunteers in the Student Center, provides oversight for Holy Communion at the Leawood campus, and assists with worship logistics at conferences.

I have always loved gardens. When I was 8, my mom taped the Hallmark Hall of Fame version of The Secret Garden, and I watched it over and over and over again from TV. I watched it so much, that the tape (yes, VHS tape) wore through, broke, and had to be scotch-taped back together. Then I continued to watch it even with about 30 seconds cut out from the broken tape.

For those of you not familiar with the story –originally a book written by Frances Hodgson Burnett – it takes place during the late nineteenth century. Young Mary Lennox, a British girl who lives in colonial India is sent to live in England with a distant relative after her parents pass away. On the Yorkshire estate where Mary ends up, she finds a garden that had long-ago been walled up and locked after a terrible accident. As Mary and friends work to cultivate the garden and bring it back to life, Mary’s broken spirit is healed.

Another reason I think gardens hold a special place for me is that my grandfather loved flowers. He and Granny always had lots of flowers in their yard, but roses were Poppa’s favorite. Even during his last years in a nursing home, there was always a rosebush outside his window. Poppa doing his daily Guideposts devotional has been a big inspiration to me to be in daily Scripture reading and prayer.

I think that connection between Poppa’s time with God and his love of gardens has helped make gardens a place I want to spend time with God – and it doesn’t matter to me if that “garden” is as small as a few potted plants on my patio or as large as Powell Gardens or the Overland Park Arboretum. Reading today’s passages of Scripture, where Jesus spent time with God and where life-changing things happened reinforce for me that having a special place to connect with God is important.

For me, that place is a garden, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only place I can meet with God. Having a special place dedicated for that purpose can help us to remember the importance of taking the time. For me, when it’s too cold to be outside (basically, anytime it’s under 65 degrees), I sit in the same chair at the same table that Poppa did his daily reading in. That spot is special to me because of the history of that chair, but before that table and chairs came to be in my apartment, I had another place. The end of my couch by the window wasn’t anything special except for it was a dedicated spot for me to meet with God. If you don’t already have a “garden”, I encourage you to set aside a place and time to meet with God and see how it can make a difference in your life.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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2.24.15 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup

Rev. Glen Shoup is the Executive Pastor of Worship and a Congregational Care Pastor.

When I was in seminary, I had a theology professor who was fond of randomly saying…right in the middle of a lecture…“most of you won’t be college or seminary professors, most of you will be preachers; and as a preacher you better always remember that if Jesus is not essential to your sermon–then you need to throw it out and go get yourself a Christian sermon…cause whatever you’ve got in your hand may be a good study or lecture—but if it doesn’t need Jesus in order to make sense—it isn’t a Christian sermon”.

Those words have always stuck with me (and I’ve had a few sermons through the years that needed to be thrown out) and those words come back to my mind when I read today’s scriptures.  For you see, in each of today’s passages, I would suggest a Christian thinker can see glimpses of Jesus.  In Exodus, we can see Jesus in the liberation and redemption the Hebrew children received from both “the Lord” and representatively in the leadership of Moses—who in the hindsight the gospel provides—was a Christ-like figure to the people.  In Psalms, we rightly can see Jesus in the Good Shepherd.  And in Isaiah, we can see Christ-likeness in the characteristics describing God’s servant.  In each of today’s readings, the hindsight of the gospel enriches and layers these passages with an ability to see aspects of the Jesus that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the other New Testament writers describe.

To be sure, I’m not suggesting the kind of non-scholarship that leads some to see Jesus around every corner and in every nook and cranny of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).  Rather I’m naming the epistemological (it means the theory or way we know…plus it makes me feel smart to use it) reality that, as Christians, we see Christ as the eternal fulcrum of the human story.  Jesus became fully Incarnate around 3 B.C.E., but Jesus didn’t come into being around 3 B.C.E.  Jesus has always been and will always be.  Jesus is the eternal Word of God…who became flesh around 3 B.C.E.  Hence, Jesus has never not been—so seeing the foreshadowing of Jesus in parts of the Old Testament isn’t sloppy scholarship, but rather its Christian understanding.

And all of this is why my old seminary professor would heartily embrace our stained glass window…because it’s not just a great study or lecture about multiple contributors to the human story told through art…but rather it is a powerful and compelling Christian sermon—preached through art.   We see through the lens of the gospel our need of the gospel in the very early scenes—Adam and Eve saying not Thy will, but mine be done; and on from there the lure of self-sovereignty veraciously pursues all its myriad destructive outcomes.  But no matter how broken things become, ultimate hope and redemption were foreshadowed in the occasional choosing of life and salvation until the central historical moment occurred when God’s eternal word became flesh…and made his dwelling among us and the fulcrum of the human story chose a die on a tree in a garden and thereby ultimately redeem and make new for all of humankind the tree of life and original paradise lost in the first garden…allowing through salvation for all…the power to choose and live daily towards Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven—Revelation 22 style.

My old seminary professor was right, and what he’d most love about this stained glass window isn’t that it simply meets the essential criteria for a Christian sermon; but what he’d most love is that centuries after we’re all dead and gone, the Christian sermon captured artistically in this window will still be powerfully and compellingly preaching!

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2.23.15 Insight from Chris Holliday

Rev. Chris Holliday serves as the associate minister at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

Music has long played a significant role in my life. I grew up singing in choirs at church and school. While in college, I majored in music education with percussion being my main instrument. I also sang in a university choir and became a church choir and handbell choir director.  After some additional post-graduate work in music, I entered and completed my seminary training. Eventually I served as a Pastor of Music and Worship, and I still participate in music ministry whenever I can. So, like many of you, music is a very important part of my faith life. Music motivates my mind, heals my heart and sooths my soul.
 
Yesterday, I played drums at Resurrection West and there was a song we used in worship that especially connected with the band and the congregation. It’s called “Something in the Water.” It’s a song about change and transformation. As we enter this Lenten season and as we walk through the valley with Jesus toward the hope and promise of resurrection, I thank God that we serve a God who offers us grace, love, new beginnings and fresh starts.
 
I hope you are able to worship and connect with God this day as you enjoy listening to the Carrie Underwood version of “Something in the Water.” I’ve also added Carrie’s version of the great and timeless hymn, “How Great Thou Art”. May God bless you as you spend time with him this day, and may you know his peace.
 
Something in the Water
 
How Great Thou Art
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