Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-30-14 (First Sunday of Advent)


Scripture: Isaiah 46:12-13
Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from deliverance: I bring near my deliverance, it is not far off, and my salvation will not tarry; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.

Thought for the Day: The people of God had walked away from their relationship with God through idolatry and unjust actions.  It almost sounds as if they have moved beyond God’s ability to rescue them, especially when we read the words, “…you who are far from deliverance.”  There are times when humanity moves an immeasurable distance from God, yet we hear the amazing news that God will bring near the gift of deliverance, and this gift is coming soon.  That is the promise of Advent, the Christian season we begin today.  We may stumble and feel as if we are no longer within the reach of God, but the message of Advent is that God came close in Jesus and God will continue to seek us out no matter how far we might have wandered off.

Prayer: Gracious God, let me trust in your saving presence that comes again this Advent season.  Amen.


First Sunday of Advent

Coming Home-Practice

And don’t forget…

Service of Hope and Remembrance

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-29-14


Scripture: Proverb 20:18 (the Message)
Form your purpose by asking for counsel, then carry it out using all the help you can get.

Thought for the Day: Our own Susan Hanks posted this Chinese Proverb on Facebook:

People who say it cannot be done
should not interrupt those who are doing it.

We should always seek good counsel, pray often, respect the wisdom of others, but there is a point in time when we need to go ahead and act. Too often well intended people wait for the perfect moment that never comes, and then undermine and question those who have chosen to act in faith even though they could not guarantee it was perfect. Throughout its history, the church has had many members who have repeated the words, “It cannot be done.” This is an interesting phrase coming from those who follow a dead man who walked out of his own tomb. Many of those who have said, “It cannot be done” are, in fact, interrupting God who is working to assemble the needed team to bring alive tangible acts of mercy and kindness. Oh sure, we can be all together wrong or simply incorrect with our timing, but more of God’s plans are undermined by the naysayers who have nothing to add to the conversation. I always like to start with the question, “Would it be good news for the last person I saw suffering?” Again, it is not the perfect question, but it has served me pretty well.

Prayer: Let me truly listen for your voice, Gracious God, and the counsel of the wise. I will act in faith, especially when doing so clearly expresses your unmerited love and forgiveness for the least among us, the lonely and the lost. Amen.


Coming Home-Practice

Service of Hope and Remembrance

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-28-14


Scripture: 2nd Timothy 2:21-23
All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work. Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Thought for the Day: I learned a good lesson yesterday. Amidst a very good Thanksgiving Dinner, I realized that we did not have an important element. I nearly gasped when I noticed that we had not purchased black olives. If you had asked me earlier in the day – Is Thanksgiving possible without black olives? – I would have quickly offered an opinion from my nearly 50 years of enjoying black olives on Thanksgiving. That educated opinion would have been a strong, “No!” Yet to my surprise, we enjoyed a good meal in a spirit of gratitude without the consumption of black olives. In fact, it was a really good meal.

How often have we allowed a change in tradition or a forgotten custom ruin an otherwise amazing moment? If we are in a confessional mood, I would have to tell you that it has happened on more than one occasion in my life. Now don’t get me wrong – tradition and regular ritual can be very meaningful. They can solidify an important teaching, but at the end of the day, we are invited to pursue: righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Don’t let a lack of black olives (or whatever it might be in your setting) ruin an otherwise good event that is about preparing special utensils for the work of God.

Prayer: I really like black olives, but at the end of the day, I love my family and you, O Lord. Help me to keep my priorities right and my focus on pursing your ways. Amen.


Make Worship A Priority

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Service of Hope and Remembrance

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-27-14 (Happy Thanksgiving)


Scripture: Psalm 22:26-27
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.

Thought for the Day: Later today, like many of you, I will eat very well. My family and I will pray, giving thanks for the multitude of blessings that we have known this past year. How often have I been poor – a spiritual or emotional poverty – and been gifted by God in such a way that satisfied my deficiency? My hope for this Thanksgiving Day is that my gratitude truly appreciates and acknowledges the gifts I have received, and I pray that you too can truly value the gifts you have received.

Prayer: Beyond just the plate of food I will devour, Lord, I wish to give you thanks for the way you have allowed me to feast at your table of unconditional love. Amen.

This Sunday
Advent Begins
Coming Home-Practice

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-26-14


Scripture: Psalm 122:6-9
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.” For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Thought for the Day: I have refused to be a 24-hour news junkie when it came to the court proceedings in Missouri, yet it was difficult to find any news without being bombarded with every possible angle on the story. And when there wasn’t a new angle, it sure appeared as if someone in the news outlets would make one up or at least suggest something outrageous to give them a topic for another 30 minutes of mindless gibberish.

Now I do not pretend to know whether the Grand Jury made the correct decision, and I do not know what it is like to live as an African-American in a nation that is still burdened by racism. Though amidst what I do not know, I am pretty certain that what we are seeing on TV right now is not just a response to the Grand Jury’s decision. It is rooted in historic  suffering and injustice that continues to this day. To pretend that I would have a different reaction if the situation was reversed is both naive and a little ridiculous. All I know is that I am called to serve my sisters and brothers who are hurting, and one of the ways I can serve them is by praying for the peace of Ferguson; praying for peace inside their neighborhoods; praying for peace within them as individuals. And of course, praying for peace assumes I will act peacefully in all my circumstances and interactions.

Prayer: As you have taught me not to judge, O Lord of Love, show me how I can be a part of a lasting change within my community and nation. Amen.

First Sunday of Advent

Coming Home-Practice

Service of Hope and Remembrance

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-25-14 (Guest Writer – Jan Nash)


Scripture:  Romans 12:5 (NIV)
“In Christ we are many who form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Thought for the Day:  Last week we launched our new website. Once the site was live, I spent a few moments basking in the joy of a project completed. With each click, one message shined brightly and sang to my soul, Because God first loved us (1John 4:19). What a glorious and simple message; we love because He first loved us. It got me thinking about how important it is to focus on this basic discipline and stay connected to church in the midst of all things—exhausting projects, meetings, phone calls, hiccups, aches and pains, demands—in other words, life’s chaos.

Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life describes it like this:

For the organs of your body to fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to your body. The same is true for you as a part of Christ’s body. You were created for a specific role, but you will miss the second purpose of your life if you are not connected to a living, local church. You discover your role in life through your relationships with others.

If an organ is somehow severed from its body, it will shrivel and die. It cannot exist on its own, and neither can you.  Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local body, your spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist.

Cypress Creek Christian Church is my body, the place I love, serve, work, worship and give. I don’t have to perform well in order to receive God’s love. I only have to love well because God first loved me and remember that it’s not about me.

Prayer:  Glorious God, Lord of my Life, ignite a passion within me to use this church—my church, to connect others to You.  Shift my focus from the tasks at hand to Your radiant presence. Let love be my guide in everything I do and use our brand spanking new website to draw others to this family. In Jesus mighty name I pray. Amen!

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!

Jan Nash

You Are Invited…

Service of Hope and Remembrance

Coming Home-Practice

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-24-14


Scripture: 1st Thessalonians 5:25
Beloved, pray for us.

Thought for the Day: In what is thought to be the earliest letter written by the Apostle Paul, we come across a long string of requests, suggestions and words of counsel. Toward the end, Paul makes one clear appeal: …pray for us.  I made that same request last night as we were finishing up the Christmas Decorating Party at the church. There had to have been 20lbs of glitter scattered on the floor. It was everywhere.  A smorgasbord of colors, each speck catching the light from the floor of the Activity Room. One of the children described it as beautiful, but I requested that they pray for me once the custodians saw the mess. Actually, the prayers should be for those who came in later in the evening to make our church ready again for another week. I do ask – Beloved, pray for us. But when I use the word ‘us’, I am making a request on behalf of all those who make Cypress Creek Christian Church move along… but specifically those whose faces are rarely seen. They do hard work at odd hours, yet they deal with all the mess that I and others have created. One of the other petitions Paul makes earlier in the chapter is to respect those who labor among you.  This should be true throughout the year, but especially during the holidays when the labors among us are easily dismissed as nothing more than objects to be used and then forgotten. They are people and beloved children of God.

Prayer: Eternal God, provide me with heavenly vision, so that what I see is what you see… and that what I pray is what you would have me pray. Amen.

Service of Hope and Remembrance

Coming Home-Practice