We started a new series last Sunday: The Gratitude project.
If you are having trouble seeing "The Gifts of the Day", try this video.
If not, I recommend you do!
It is a documentary that is also a great movie. More than that, in these polarized and divided times, it is a breath of fresh air- and just what we need.
There are lots of great reviews about “Won’t You Be My Neighbor’” but the best one is from someone who isn’t a movie critic. David Brooks writes,
There’s nothing obviously moving here, and yet the audience is moved: sniffling, wiping the moisture from their cheeks. The power is in Rogers’s radical kindness at a time when public kindness is scarce. It’s as if the pressure of living in a time such as ours gets released in that theater as we’re reminded that, oh yes, that’s how people can be.
Later this Fall, I have planned a sermon series by the same name, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” When Rich and I were planning this series, we believed it would be timely and important to talk about how to be good neighbors in such an un-neighborly environment. We didn’t know there would be a documentary- or that it would be so good. There is, and it is.
I recommend going with others. Friends and family are the easy choices, but why not think about going with people in your LIFE Group or another group from church? Another suggestion: invite a neighbor to go with you! Regardless of who you go with the obvious question to discuss afterwards is, “What can Mr. Rogers teach us about being better neighbors in our neighborhood?”
I also don’t recommend you wait too long to go see it. This is one of those movies that is a limited release and may not be around for long.
Jesus said that the whole Law could be summarized into…
That means at least half of God’s intent for us is contained in how we treat our neighbors. Mr. Rogers’ life was the model for the needed neighbor. His life was a reminder that, “oh yes, that’s how people can be.”
What’s not helpful? There have been a number of articles, reminders, and stories that make the cased for NOT sending clothes and supplies to an area unless it has been requested by a reputable and accountable aid group involved with recovery. There are too many heart-breaking stories of well-intentioned people, who try to help, only to find out their efforts were wasted- or worse. The story on last week’s CBS Sunday morning is an especially painful reminder.
So what helps? Here are some things to keep in mind:
Deanna Heyn was back in Zimbabwe this Spring and brought back some wonderful images and stories. Take a look at all the great work going on in this video she put together. I was there 11 years ago and it is staggering to see all the progress that has been made, even as it is clear there is much to be done.
New Hope Presbyterian Church helped establish this ministry and works with other churches in the Denver Presbytery to expand and enhance this vital work as part of the Zimbabwe Mission Partnership (ZMP).
Had the privilege of being part of a Companions in Grief workshop on Saturday. About a dozen folks, mostly from New Hope, but also from the community came to learn how to better care for people in seasons of grief and sorrow.
When it came time to talk about grieving and faith, I shared this video from Brené Brown and produced by The Work of the People. Thought it should have a wider audience, so I'm posting it here. Listen how Brené talks about her own faith, suffering, forgiveness and grief. She covers a lot in less than 7 minutes!
Special thanks go to Leslie Clemensen and Karrie Filios for organizing and leading this workshop. I'm proud to be part of a congregation where people volunteer to learn how to lean into the places of pain and care for those who are hurting.
You may think spiritual growth happens automatically and shouldn't need a special class.
On the other hand, you may think "Everday Spirituality" is another way of saying "Spirituality Lite"
You may think "spirituality" is an advanced class, only for those who are "spiritual."
You may think spiritual growth is about "thinking."
If you believe any of the above, you may want to stay away from this class. On the other hand, if you are looking for a way to deepen your faith and expand your connection with God, then I suggest you check it out.
For more than 30 years I have been a pastor and watched while some people's faith continues to grow and stretch them. They experience an increased awareness of God and their lives have more depth, purpose and joy. At the same time (and sometimes in the same family), others don't grow. They come to worship regularly (at least at first), attend a Bible Study and even get involved in a group at church. They can be very busy, but they really don't grow much.
How is it that some people's faith changes their life and their world while others go to church for decades and never seem to grow?
The response was terrific on our first Sunday back. MANY thanks to all those who helped make this possible, including our Greeters and especially, our Sunday School volunteers! We virtually doubled the need for both in a very short time, and people responded beautifully. By the way, we still need more people for Sunday School- particularly at the 10:45 hour. If you can help, please see Jordan.
There has been a tremendous response (again!) to our Giving Forest, and there are about a dozen tags waiting to be claimed. Next Sunday, we bring the gifts back (unwrapped and with their tags, please) for the Big Sort.
At the same time, our children's ministries will be presenting the annual Christmas Pageant as a major part of the 10:45 service.
Tonight, our Worship & Arts ministry presents the second night of our annual Figgy Pudding Party. It was a rich feast for the soul last night and it promises to be the same tonight.
Communion was served this morning, as we usually do on the first Sunday of the month. What was particularly powerful about this Sunday was the presence of our Communion Class. For the past month they have been studying what Communion is and what it means to partake of it. This morning, many in the class received communion for the first time, and they also helped serve! What a powerful way to build faith and include children in the life of the whole church!
A friend recently challenged me to write a Thank You note everyday for two months. I liked the idea so much that I challenged the congregation to "40 Days of Thank You!". Its a simple concept: 1 Thank You note per day for 40 Days.
The concept is as powerful as it is simple. Gratitude is the foundational virtue for a growing soul. Practicing gratitude opens us up to the provisions and grace of God that are all around us. The more we practice, the more we see. The more we see, the larger our hearts grow and the more we are able to allow God's grace to flow in and through us.
How about it- are you up for this challenge? If you started on Monday, it would take you to New Year's Day. Let me know if you take this on and I hope you'll share your experience of "40 Days of Thank You!"
She is the best-selling author of three books, her speaking events sell out within hours, she is interviewed in TIME magazine, Oprah Winfrey and even on the cover of this month's Costco Connections (the true test that you have arrived!).
I think it is more than hype. Brené's research has sparked a global conversation about what it means to live wholeheartedly, with courage, vulnerability and creativity. More than self-help, this is the necessary work of the soul and people are often amazed at how well her work integrates with the wisdom, insight and teaching of the scriptures.
That is why I'm excited that we have several opportunities to explore the discoveries of Brené Brown and expand our own understanding of the abundant, wholehearted life that Christ offers.
Beyond what you can get from just her books and talks, Brené put together an intensive training workshop that digs deep into the personal work necessary to embody wholehearted living. She spent time personally training and certifying instructors who could present her material- people like my friend, Rich Gantenbein. He is bringing that workshop to New Hope on October 9-10 (he'll also be preaching on October 11).
Its going to be a powerful weekend. Bring a friend, your spouse and even your entire LIFE Group! The cost is $35 and you can register online or at church.