Who Needs Words?

Rarely do words fail me. ??In fact, usually it's quite the opposite. ??I always try to find the right words for the moment. ??Like a less dapper Don Draper. ??But, recently, my words were unexpectedly and suddenly stolen from the very Thesaurus Rex I keep tucked inside my soul. ??

A little back story… ??Last Tuesday my younger brother, Jesse, and I flew to Las Vegas. ??No, we didn't take our tithe, put it all on Red and let it ride… ??We were helping my older sister, Emily move cross-country, back home to CT where she belongs. ??We packed up all her possessions??into a 14 foot U-Haul and headed out, eastward into the desert. ??

Six hours later, around Flagstaff, AZ we had an important decision to make: ??Continue driving to stay on our 12-hour-per-day schedule, or take an hour detour to The Grand Canyon and adding a full day to our trek. ??As Jesse so exactly put it, "When will we ever get the chance to do this again?" ??Grand Canyon it is.

The way they have laid out the park at the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon, you would never know there is a gigantic hole there. ??The visitors' center and facilities hide what lies beyond and the landscaping slopes upward so you have no glimpse of it until you are right on top of it. ??

And then you see it. ??And your mouth hangs open. ??

No Ansel Adams picture I have ever seen comes close to capturing the??magnificence and vastness of The Grand Canyon. ??In fact, "Grand" doesn't even do it justice. ??It is absurd. ??It just goes on and on.??Trying hard to focus your eyes and scan the floor of the magnificent crevice you can barely make out a detail due to its depth. ??You can see the opposite rim to the North but whether a Fiat or a Jumbo Jet is parked there, you'd have no clue. ??Peering down the length you see crest after crest, contour after contour disappearing like waves in the ocean. ??The details of which becoming obscured by the very moisture that builds up in the air between the facades and your retinas.??
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Days after being awestruck, we met up with some old friends in VA (Stephen and Kelly Barry) to have a light, relaxing day of wine tastings in the Shenandoah Valley beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains before making the final push home the next day. ??As we sat at dinner I tried and failed to capture the Grand Canyon in words. ??I heard my voice describing the vastness, the depth, the??unbelievable-ness of it all and I stopped mid-sentence not knowing whether I was describing the canyon or the One who created it. ??

Sometimes the??vernacular??we use as ??Christians can seem a tad silly. ??Especially to non-believers. ??We use words like 'awesome' and 'great.' ??But, when these words are truly used to their full potential, they are anything but silly. ??When I stand before The Maker, what words will I use then? ??The enormity of His love and provision makes The Grand Canyon look like a crack in a sidewalk.

The irony is that we often go to God with our life and death problems, but we have fooled ourselves into believing He can't handle our tiny fears or our little sins. ??We serve a God that is SO big… but He isn't bigger than this little fear I have that has been pestering me for years. ??We belong to a God whose Love is SO steadfast… ??but it isn't wide enough to cover this little sin that I am shackled to. ??Or we don't think our trouble is important enough to bring to the Almighty.

My sister moved home because she recently went through a divorce. ??At 31 she is starting over nearly from scratch as a single mother. ??Right now, her problems and worries could easily fill that hole we gazed upon. ??But God is bigger. ??God is greater. ??

As I think on all the words that might be used to describe Our Father, maybe the best one is 'Complete.' ??Big, small, trivial, shameful, nagging, new or routine… ??Whatever you are dealing with, whatever is on your heart, Our God's sovereignty over it is Complete.

–Nick

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This Week at St. Paul’s!

Happy Tuesday, Everyone! Better late than never, right? Here’s what’s up at St. Paul’s:

  1. Membership Affirmations: We’re still affirming/reaffirming membership. If you are interested in becoming a member, or reaffirming your membership, please pick up and sign a contract and leave it on the communion table on Sunday. 
  2. Adventures on Promise Island! Our VBS program is only weeks away (July 9-13th)! Volunteers: We’re having another meeting on July 2nd at the church at 7 PM. Everyone else: you can help out by either signing your children up to attend here, or by spreading the word by handing out invite cards to your friends (available at the greeter’s table). There are also fliers you can leave for people at various locales. 
  3. Leadership Summit: We’re taking a group to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit at Walnut Hill Church in Bethel on August 9-10th. You can register by clicking the link here. Be sure to sign up through our church group (St. Paul’s Church in Storrs), and at our site (Walnut Hill Church). 

And that’s it for this week! 


One Makes A Difference and Can Anyone Pitch?

Softball

Our church softball team started out 3-0.  Now we are 3-3.  The difference?  Pitching. 

It’s funny.  When we were 3-0 we thought we were awesome.  Turns out it was not “we” but “he.”  It was our pitcher who was awesome.  But he got a new job and can’t play anymore and now we’ve lost three straight.  Cue the violins.   

During our undefeated phase our pitcher never walked batters.  He struck them out.  Yes, he struck people out in slow pitch softball.  I have no idea how.    

He also pitched to contact phenomenally well.  Instead of regularly giving up homeruns and doubles he induced weak grounders and pop-ups.  Again, I have no idea how.

Thursday night we lost.  I pitched.  Again our team trotted out a new pitcher.  I gave up 15 or so runs in less than two innings.  That’s very, very bad.  I basically single-handedly lost the game for us.  I don’t think I’ll be pitching again soon.

But it made me remember how important one person can be to a team.  One makes a difference.  With our pitcher we were awesome.  Without him we are not awesome.  One makes a difference.  That’s true in softball and true in life.

Also important:  CAN ANYONE PITCH?  Seriously.  If anyone at St. Paul’s is a competent slow pitch softball pitcher, we need you ASAP to turn this season around.      

 


Going Both Ways: Worship and Response.

Telephone-rotary

A couple weeks ago, the weekend service team got together to talk about dairy farming in the Midwest. Just kidding: we talked about weekend service stuff, mainly Sundays and worship. And you may think we on the weekend service team talk about this stuff all the time, or at least, once a month when we have our weekend service team meetings.

But this meeting was a little different.

And it was very important, actually. 

We had to do homework: We read two books, one that was nice and short (Revolve) and one that was nice and longer (Engage), both from Nelson Searcy and Jason Hatley. These books were both great. Revolve was focused on the way we as members of a congregation should view worship: it isn’t about us; it’s about God, and focusing our praise and worship on him. Engage was geared more towards the people who structure the worship service (namely: pastor and worship pastor), and creating a service that facilitates worship, growth, and outreach (basically a healthy church).

But we started out in God’s Word: When it came down to it, though, the meeting could be summed up pretty simply: Worship is about Response. Vince had us read Isaiah 6 together; in it, Isaiah sees God, and sees the seraphim worshipping Him. And it turns into a back and forth kind of thing: God reveals Himself as Holy to Isaiah, Isaiah responds by saying (to paraphrase) “woe to me! For I am a sinner!” God responds by sending an angel to cleanse Isaiah’s lips (and He atones for him), and then God asks: “Who will I send?” and Isaiah responds: “Send me.”

Worship is Revelation and Response:

  1. God reveals Himself. 
  2. We change our direction (by asking for forgiveness, by focusing our attention and worship on Him and not ourselves).
  3. God responds to us.
  4. We respond to him. 

And in case you haven’t noticed, I’ll point it out: this could go on and on, over and over again, because (as we say every week once our service is over) our worship never ends!

We planned for the future: So I will spare you the hours of work and sum things up from here: we worked together on this coming year’s calendar, and we also talked about the ways we as a team can faciliate St. Paul’s continued growth. We discussed what we do well, what needs work, what might be missing. 

But after this discussion, one thing that we all came to a consensus on is that St. Paul’s is a Christ-centered church. And because of this, God is working through us, and has great things in store for us. But this isn’t a one-way street: God is revealing Himself to us, and we need to respond to Him.

We were created to worship, and by doing what we were created to do, God will be made known through St. Paul’s Church. 


Sunday Night Super-Heroes

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Two more superhero movies are coming out soon:  The Amazing Spiderman (July 3) and The Dark Knight Rises (July 20).  

I’m going to see Spiderman Sunday night after church (July 8th) and Batman Sunday night after church (July 22) at Rave Motion Pictures in Manchester.  These are the first Sundays after the movies open.  

So feel free to join me for Sunday Night Super Heroes!  If these movies are as good as The Avengers this will be THE BEST SUPERHERO MOVIES SUMMER EVER!!!