Events – Folder

Open Your Heart and Life for the New Sermon Series

Wes Head ShotWes Mullins, Senior Pastor

For the next two months (August and September), I will be delving very thoroughly into our theme for this year: The Year of Building.  For those of you who attended our Retreat back in May, this is going to be a good time to pull out the work you began with Colleen as we will be revisiting the construction work that she helped us start.  I will not be building directly off of Colleen’s messages so attending retreat will not be an essential prerequisite to this sermon series.  Instead, those who attended retreat will simply be able to think about the ways they already began thinking about the building work needed in their own life and in the life of our church.

This series will explore a plethora of areas in our life where we can choose to build the kind of life we want.  Today the series opens with a sermon I have titled, “Building in the Void.”  It seemed appropriate to begin with a sermon focused on building in the empty spaces/building the new thing we have to create out of the void.  What areas of your life are void?  Where is the whole in your heart?  Are you feeling devoid of love, connections, or meaning?  Time to build.

This past week was a very challenging one for me.  A hole, a void, is currently forming in the northwest corner of my family.  As most of you know, my grandmother is slowly wasting away to old age and infection, and the weight of that can be felt as you sit with her in the northwest bedroom of my family home.  This slow process is causing a hole to rip open slowly, like the seam giving way around the collar of a favorite T-shirt.  As each of my family members make his or her final visit, our commitments force us to have to leave even though we wish we could remain until the end.  So the hole opens slowly.  The seam tears away a bit more with each tearful goodbye, mine just being the most recent.  But the seam is stubborn and the hole is slow to form.

Black Elk once wrote, “The life of a person is a circle from birth to death.”  Sometimes that circle seems so big, other times very small.  Where is your life on this circle?  Is there a void, a hole, in your heart?  Maybe the meaning you once found in life and in faith seems to be unraveling?  Or perhaps you are strong and ready to grow?  No matter where you are on the circle, let’s build together.  Will you open your heart and explore it with me over coming weeks?

 

What Truly is Important

Elizabeth Ford Children's Church Music MinistriesElizabeth Ford, Director of Children’s Ministries

As I write this, I am at a choral music workshop in Denver.  We’ve been presented with the standard topics: breath, pedagogy, music selection.  However, for reasons that seem to be coincidental, the true focus of this workshop has been musical legacy.

Nearly ten years ago, on my first day working at a music store the owner warned me, “Ok, our instrument repairman, Steve, is coming in soon.  You aren’t going to like him, so just keep your distance.” I followed directions all morning and avoided the larger-than-life, 82 year old Italian man.  As a former band director, he had a reputation for having very high expectations and a low temper threshold.  When it was time for lunch, we ordered spaghetti.  Mike watched me twirl my spaghetti the “correct way” onto my fork and from then on he decided he liked me.

As time passed, I found myself working more and more with Steve.  He was a master craftsman and I got the impression he took on very few apprentices. He shared all the secrets he’d gained in his decades of practice with humor and patience.  One day, we were soldering a sousaphone. We’d been at it all day and eventually got to that point where you’re 100% focused on the project at hand and only speak when necessary.  Then, Steve looked down and noticed a tiny bug walking across cardboard on our workbench.  All work stopped as we studied our new friend that Steve named “Oscar.”  In the minutes that followed, Steve and I began to draw a playground for Oscar.  Our world was about a square foot for half an hour or so as we drew a swing set, hot tub, car, and mansion. Eventually Oscar crawled away and we giggled at how silly we’d been.

As educators, we’re reminded that what we teach doesn’t matter as much as how we make our students feel. After 10 years, I imagine that I could still clumsily adjust a saxophone if I had to.  However, that day, Steve taught me the importance of humor, whimsy, searching for beauty, and living in the moment. I may have forgotten music repair secrets, but I’ll never forget Steve’s friendship or how he made me feel. Steve passed away a few years after I moved on and the last gift he gave me was a little ceramic figurine.  On the bottom, he’d inscribed, “Remember Oscar.”  Clearly, that moment had meant as much to him as it had to me. To this day, the little figurine lives on a shelf in my classroom. The porcelain angel helps me find perspective and reminds me to look for beauty even on the most difficult days. Thank you, Steve.

 

When Words Fail

Wes Head ShotWes Mullins, Senior Pastor

For the better part of the last two weeks, I enjoyed some spectacular time with MCC folk from all around the globe.  People were gathered from the Philippines, Australia, the UK, Russia, Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, the U.S., and more.  It was our 25th General Conference, held in MCC’s 45th year of existence, and the mood at our gathering in Chicago was just electric!

I spent the first several days in training on how to teach the class we will offer here this fall entitled, “Creating a Life that Matters.”  It is going to be a powerful and life-changing class for those who choose to attend.

During and especially after that training, work began to transform a hotel ballroom into a sanctuary.  By the time the opening worship service of General Conference came, people were so ready!  A 25-piece band scored the music for worship (hear trumpets and trombones and timpani and piano), banners and the cross and candles led the way into worship (see the teens carrying these items), and then all the clergy in MCC processed in (see scores of clergy of all ages and colors dressed in robes), and then the end of the processional was marked by the entrance of our leadership.  Rev. Elder Troy Perry led them in, the Founder of MCC and the recent victor in the Supreme Court case Hollingsworth v. Perry.  Boy did that room ignite when they saw Troy!  He was then followed in by all our current leaders, Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, our Moderator, being the last.

If you can imagine that scene with about 1300 MCCers present and singing, then you have some idea of what the first 2-3 minutes of General Conference was like!  And there was five full days of that.  It was quite a wonderful mix of powerful moments, tears, hope, loss, joy, and celebration.  When it comes right down to it, it is hard to put experiences like this into words.  It is like trying to explain how you feel when you come home from a retreat or when you are leaving a particularly powerful Sunday morning service.  Sometimes words just fail us.  So, as words are failing me now, I simply say this:  The Spirit of God moved through 1500 people in ways that we will never fully know but in ways we felt in our bones and hearts and souls.  And it was very good.

Want to know more?  Ask me or your lay delegates, Robin and Kevin!