Author Archives: Andrew Conard

Monday 4.2.12 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also Associate Pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

As I read the passage from Luke from the GPS for today, I was struck by the unusual way that Jesus was able to find a donkey to ride on in to town. Jesus instructions to the two disciples in Luke 19:30-31 are pretty incredible: “Go into the village over there. When you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If someone asks, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘Its master needs it.'”

Can you imagine someone coming up to you in the parking lot at the grocery store and saying the they were going to take your car because “Its master needs it?” I would have a hard time letting someone drive off without hearing a lot more detail about what is going on. However this is not what we read in the text. The scene unfolds exactly as Jesus said that it would. We do not know what more conversation there may have been between verse 34 and 35 in chapter 19. In any case, Jesus ride into Jerusalem with the connection from Israel’s history and the prophets intact.

This section of the story is encouraging to me because it is a reminder that God cares about the details and the connections among seemly disconnected events. The owner of the donkey trusted what was happening, even without a clear outcome. What is happening in your life right now that might require trust further than you can see possible outcomes?

Monday 1.9.12 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also Associate Pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

I have shared this passage of scripture at every wedding which I have officiated during my time at Resurrection. It provides a beautiful picture of the very first marriage at the beginning of time. I really appreciate the GPS Guide’s reminder of the lighthearted nature of this passage – “There’s some humor in the idea of Adam pondering possible partnerships—”Elephant? No. Bird? Nope. Dolphin? Think not!” This is a clear reminder that we are to be connected to other human beings. There is the opportunity for a connection between two human beings that is unlike any other.

The partnership that is referred to in this passage helps give us a picture of the biblical model of marriage – that each would be a helper to the other and that they would live together in a partnership. We all need companions and partners in life’s journey. Our family and friends can provide some of that companionship, but marriage is a deeper level of companionship. When two people are joined together in marriage it is a relationship that is distinct among all other human relationships.

Whether single, married or dating, we all of the opportunity to live out God’s call for our lives to love God and our neighbor with mutual respect and love.

 

Monday 12.12.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also Associate Pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

There are many faith rituals that are meaningful to me. I want to say more about the Lord’s Prayer and Holy Communion today in reference to the questions from the GPS Guide. We say the Lord’s Prayer every weekend and there are times when I catch myself having reached the end of the prayer and not being aware of the words I had just said. Times like this are when the repetition did not have meaning for me. To work against this tendency, I pay particular attention to the words of the prayer. Outside of the worship service it is possible to slow down the prayer and pay particular attention to each word or phrase. These help me keep the ritual from becoming an empty form.

Holy Communion is another ritual that we participate in on a regular basis at Resurrection, every week at some worship services. This meal that we share together both remembers the meal that Jesus shared with his disciples on the night before he died and looks forward to the heavenly banquet that we will share in God’s Kingdom. One of the things that I do to keep this ritual from being emptied of its meaning is to pay close attention to the taste and texture of the bread and juice in my mouth. This intentionality helps me slow down for a moment and recognize what is represented as we share this meal together.

I hope that you will take time to recognize the meaning in the faith rituals which you practice.

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

Monday 10.10.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also Associate Pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of worship at Resurrection. I helped to give a Bible to each of the third graders at Resurrection West. I still have the Bible that I was given in third grade. The Bible has been an important part of my life for a long time, for in the Bible we see the clearest picture of Jesus and in Jesus we see the clearest picture of God. It is God’s written word for us today.

I have read the Bible in different ways throughout my life, as I bring something a little different each time that I approach the text. I can return to the same passage over and over throughout months and years – at times finding something different and at other times hearing the same good news.

One of my favorite passages in all of scripture is Luke 15. In this chapter, Jesus is addressing “tax collectors and sinners,” people just like us. The three stories of lost and found help give a picture of God’s love for us. For each one of us, God loves us before we are aware of it, we have a chance to recognize and receive God’s love and then our journey is to know, love and serve God in response to God’s love for us.

The stories of scripture bring life and hope.

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

 

Monday 8.29.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also Associate Pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

It is easy to skip over this scripture when reading the Bible, as the overarching story throughout the Old Testament is not about the descendants of Ishmael, but instead the descendants of Isaac. It is really helpful for me to know more of the history surrounding the descendants of Ishmael. It is good to know of the connections between Islam and Christianity through this passage that we find in Judaism’s holy book.

I find it encouraging that there is the opportunity to look to a common history among Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It helps me look at others as primarily one of God’s children, instead of the differences that exist. I hope to grow in my ability to see others first as God sees them. Where are you able to look past differences? What opportunities and challenges are in this practice?

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

Monday 8.8.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also a pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Online.

The scripture verses from the GPS Guide today are a wonderful story of God’s provision for God’s people. The first few verses give insight into the people of Israel and too often my life. Here is how it goes – The people of Israel have been brought out of oppressive slavery, walked through the Red Sea, seen their pursuers washed away in the sea and are free for the first time in generations. As one who is reading the story and knows how it will end, these all seem great. However for the people of Israel, things were not so great.

They are in the desert. They have no food. This is not a great combination. The start grumbling against their leaders and wish that they would have died in Egypt rather than come into the wilderness to starve.

How often is this the case for us? Do you ever complain about your circumstances? I confess that there are times that I do. The good news in this scripture is that, no matter what the circumstances, God is present with us and may provide for us in ways that we would not have imagined. That first day the Israelites may not have imagined that they would be eating manna for the next 40 years, but there was one thing for sure – God provided. There was food to eat.

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

Monday 7.25.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also a pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Online.

I believe that God calls each one of us in various ways throughout our lives. I was introduced to Christianity at a young age and have been blessed to have it as a part of my life. My parents Christian example and influence guided me toward my own understanding of Christianity and how to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I remember a moment in high school when I was overwhelmed by the love of God for me – that God knew all about me and still loved me, that Jesus life, death and resurrection brought salvation to the whole world but also to me in particular. This experience was one of the first times that I remember experiencing God’s call.

In 2002, the summer before my final year at Pittsburg State University, I realized that God was not calling me to a career in biology, my field of study at the time. During that fall semester, I considered many possibilities for what might be next for me after graduation. One of those possibilities was pursuing graduate theological education. At a campus ministry retreat, I was reading the account of Jesus calling his disciples in the Gospel according to John, I heard God speaking to me. The disciples’ question, “Where are you staying?” corresponded to my question, “What might seminary be about?” Jesus responded clearly to them and to me: “Come and see.” As a result of this and other experiences, I felt called to go to seminary. I graduated  from Pittsburg State with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in May of 2003 and began classes that fall at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.

During my time at Wesley, I learned the importance of faith seeking understanding. It was refreshing to seek God with my mind with the goal of entering deeper into the mystery of God. The summer after my first year at seminary, I lived and worked in Yellowstone National Park as part of A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. During the week I cleaned rooms at a hotel and on the weekends I led a team of college students to lead worship for employees and guests at the park. It was during this summer that I felt God’s call to ministry as an ordained elder serving in the local church.

I am not always sure about the ways that God will continue to call me in the future, however I am looking forward to a lifetime of learning and life with God. I pray that I will be attentive to God’s continued call.

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

    Monday 6.27.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

    Andrew ConardRev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also a pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Online. You can follow him on Twitter at@andrewconard or read his blog, Thoughts of Resurrection at http://andrewconard.com.

    Dishonesty and lying is one of the characteristics that breaks down relationships. In a friendship, marriage or co-worker relationship hiding the truth from someone can become burdensome and more and more difficult. It is possible to deceive others through our words or perhaps through not saying things that could be shared at a given moment.

    In my own life, I find it frustrating when I find out that someone has been deceptive to me, especially around questions of someone’s identity. Not telling the truth about one’s own identity causes trouble for Aladdin in the movie and it can cause problems for us as well. There are many different ways that we can try to show ourselves in a good light – through career, family, home, vacations and many other things. Trying to show something to others that I am someone who I am not never leads to good.

    Part of the good news of Jesus Christ is that we do not have to hide our identity. Each one of us are daughters and sons of God. We are made in God’s image. Regardless of the ways that we mess up, we have the opportunity to confess, receive forgiveness and begin again as a child of God.

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

    Monday 6.13.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

    Andrew ConardRev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also a pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Online. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewconard or read his blog, Thoughts of Resurrection at http://andrewconard.com.

    I appreciate this story of the early church and the way that the Holy Spirit sent out these early believers to be witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The mission that God sends us starts where we are, but it does not end with those that are close to us. We are called to be a part of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

    As Pastor of Resurrection Online, I am excited about using technology to connect people with each other and God in ways that had not before been possible. The internet allows us to connect with people who are not able to be physically present for many different reasons. I have heard stories from people who have connected online for worship who indicate the meaning that they find in connecting in this way.

    I believe that we continue to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and that we are able to use every available means to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. The central message of our Christian faith remains the same. Our methods of sharing this story with others need to continue to change so that people have the opportunity to hear in ways that they will be receptive. How are you sharing the good news of Jesus with others?

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

    6.12.10 Saturday Insights from Michelle Kirby

    Jesus said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12) This passage brings that Scripture to mind as we consider, “Who will be the next king?” Adonijah’s attempt to answer that question could not be more different from Bathsheba’s answer (on behalf of Solomon).

    While Adonijah self-appoints himself as the king, verse 16 says, “Bathsheba bowed low and knelt before the king.” Instead of acting out of pride and self-promotion, Bathsheba listened to the wise counsel of the prophet Nathan, and showed respect for the aged king.

    This prompts the question: when opportunities are before me, who do I most resemble? Do I respond with my own pride and self promotion like Adonijah, or with humility like Bathsheba? Though I know what I ought to do, unfortunately I have often behaved more like Adonijah than Bathsheba.

    Bathsheba’s attitude inspires and challenges me to do the same. She pleased her king by her act of humility. If I humble myself and listen to the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit, I will be pleasing the King, Jesus Christ.

    Michelle Kirby (known as Michelle Guarini before her recent marriage to Rev. Jeff Kirby, who is on a mission trip to Haiti this week) serves as Learning Events Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.