Monthly Archives: February 2015

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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!

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

2.21.15 Insight from Julie Peters

Julie Peters is the Associate Director of Student Ministries at The Church of the Resurrection.

“I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:1-3, New International Version)

I was truly excited when I saw that this scripture was assigned to my post in the Insights blog. When I read these verses and thought about how Adam has been preaching from Africa, I was transported back to my own mission experience. Let me focus on one particular community in South Africa, Mariannridge, a place formational in my own faith journey.

Over the years, I have led numerous trips for young people to South Africa and interacted with this community, referred to as “the Ridge.” This community is very poverty stricken and loses many promising young leaders to AIDS, starvation, drugs and violence. After spending a week at an adventure camp with young leaders from Resurrection and from the Ridge, it became apparent to each of us that we were there to encourage one another and be united in Christ’s love for God’s good purpose in each of our lives. We came from very different places in life…and yet, we held so many things in common. We are all humans who are seeking hope and meaning in life. And in that place, nearly 40 lives were intertwined and given new insight into this mystery that Paul speaks of in our scripture today.

When I ponder Paul’s words to this church in Laodicea, I also think about the words given to John for Laodicea in Revelation 3, warning the church about being lukewarm and dying in comfortable riches. In a small camp in Africa, surrounded by so much natural beauty and so much human struggle, there was no room for lukewarm. You could either engage in real community, gaining treasures of wisdom and knowledge, or ignore it completely…there was no room for middle ground. And years later, we still have relationships and encouragement as a unique community, through updates and prayer requests across the ocean.

Every time I open an email with prayer requests for the people of Mariannridge, I get a glimpse of what Paul means when he says that he contends for the people of the church that he knows and doesn’t know. His goal is for them to be united in love, be encouraged, and have the riches of the mystery of Christ. For them and for us, unpacking this mystery day by day, brings hope and meaning to life as we begin to understand the eternal relationship the God of all creation offers us. Finding ways to keep the passion alive and seek this treasure in my day to day life is one of my biggest challenges in my faith journey. And this is just as true for me in Kansas, today, as it was in Africa, on that mountaintop.

So each day every follower of Christ must make a choice. Today, do I choose to be awake, alive, and inspired to follow a risen Christ and encounter the true treasures in life? Or, today will I allow real treasure to be drowned in a lukewarm sea of temporary, comfortable, riches of the world? I pray that day by day we will make the choices that make each day count!

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

2.20.15 Insight from Phil Antilla

philgpsPhil Antilla serves as the program director for Young Adult and College Ministry: www.cor.org/youngadults.

In Acts 2 we begin to hear the first stories about the early Church. Christians are gathering in the name of Jesus, breaking bread, sharing possessions, and according to Scripture, they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

But what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

The Spirit of God with us is more than some mystical presence, a ghostlike genie who grants wishes or finds us parking spaces–no, the Spirit of God is life itself!

One of the words the Bible uses to describe Spirit is ruach (pronounced “roo-akh”), which also means “breath.” We remember that when God first created humans, God breathed breath, or ruach, into them.

The Spirit of God is life itself.

John Wesley liked to use the word “energy” when referring to the work of the Spirit, because God’s presence with us is much more than companionship. It is an energy that makes us truly alive. It’s no surprise that when the Spirit of God comes upon the early Church in Acts 2, and they are filled with the life and the energy of the Holy Spirit, they begin to feel truly alive. In fact, they were so energetic about life that the locals assumed they were drunk!

But the truly remarkable thing about the coming of the Spirit is that it is for all people. Peter quotes the prophet Joel to describe how the Spirit of God is not exclusive—it falls on man and woman, young and old, rich and poor, afflicted and free.

We are all filled with the same Spirit:

  • The Spirit that resurrected Jesus from the dead,
  • the Spirit that opened the eyes of Paul,
  • the Spirit that filled the church with life then and today,
    is the same Spirit that is with you now.

You have much to live for.

Although you may feel weak or tired, know that the Spirit of God is with you. With every breath, remember that God has made you alive. The energy of love has been poured into your heart, and the hope of God will not disappoint.

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

2.19.15 Insight from Mike Wilhoit

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

So my fiancé comes up to me one afternoon to tell me she’s pregnant and that the baby is not mine. To make my day even better, she quips that the baby is from God, not normal means. I immediately begin following the advice of our pre-marriage counselor and count backwards from 100 when angry. When I reach zero, I feel like one.  My girlfriend is sleeping around and she thinks I’m naive enough to believe her crazy story. My next thought is that it’s time to call Miss Manners and find out how to get myself out of this relationship while maintaining some dignity. Explaining this to my mother is going to be such fun. My father is going to say “I told you so” while my brothers mock me at every family reunion until I die.

Matthew 1:20 describes what happened next: “As Joseph considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

As with Jacob and Paul in today’s reading, God changed history through a dream. Sometimes (not always!) there’s more to a dream than just what you ate last night.

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

2.18.15 Insight from Kari Burgess

Kari Burgess is a Program Director for the Catalyst team, handling promotion and marketing for all of the conferences held at Resurrection, as well as registration and coordinating hospitality volunteers.

When we had just been in our home for a short time and our oldest daughter was young, my husband and I went on a trip. It rained something like 12 inches in Kansas City that weekend. Our parents were watching our daughter and they came to the house one day to check on things. When they went to the basement there was water–inches of water. Thank goodness for our parents. My father and father-in-law spent several hours in the pouring rain, digging a trench to coax the water away from our house’s foundation. All the while, my mother and mother-in-law were trying to mop up the water coming in. It took several days of a shop vacuum, fans, and dehumidifiers to dry the basement out.

Turned out, we had a drain in the yard with debris backed all the way up the pipe to the gutter. Everything overflowed and caused a crack in the foundation. As young homeowners, we had paid no attention to our foundation. We had to call in the experts. Re-landscaping, repairing the drain, repairing the crack…I can’t remember all the details, but it took a lot of effort (and a lot of cash) to shore up our foundation.

Our faith life is like that. If our faith foundation is built on sand, it will surely wash away when the rains come, when something difficult challenges our faith. If our foundation has a crack or breach of some sort, our faith may not wash way, but it will surely be compromised.

Even when built on the rock, our faith foundation needs regular check ups and maintenance. For me, that means things like making a concerted effort to take time with God in prayer, making a regular habit of immersing myself in His Word, engaging in worship each week, taking a Bible study or class.

Without regular maintenance, problems arise. Sometimes we may need professionals to help. When there is a crack or a breach, or when you just need to shore up your foundation, I encourage you to call your pastor for help, seek out a group at Care Night or find a qualified counselor. The longer you wait or ignore the problem, the bigger it can become.

We need to attend to our faith and make sure that we are consistently nurturing it and giving it regular maintenance. Then when the floods come (and surely they will at some point in life), that faith is rock solid.

My husband and I do a much better job of checking our house foundation on a regular basis and maintaining it. But we still sometimes get busy and let it get away from us. My faith life is like this  too–sometimes I do a better job of maintaining my relationship with God than at other times. But when I start to falter, I can stand firm on my foundation and get help from others when I need it.

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