November 2020

With the election just days away, it felt prudent to open this letter with John Wesley’s advice for elections. (It is amazing how that man seemed to have a method or list for literally everything in life). Back in 1774, John Wesley told a group of people his three rules for voting in an election.

  1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy.
  2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against.
  3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.       

I found these simple points both elegantly practical, yet also, perhaps, a slight bit convicting. It has been a challenging election season. I pray that if you choose to vote, that you do so while speaking no evil against the other side or their candidate. Guard your heart and do not let something like politics change who you are or how you love. I personally am looking forward to a new month with no political ads, mailings or text messages. 😊

                A few weeks ago, I was making breakfast in the kitchen and I heard this terrible racket coming from the other room. Our home is a very musical home, and my boys have a collection of toy “instruments.” There’s a small plastic drum set in the living room, a xylophone, a ukulele, maracas and even a tambourine. On this particular morning, as I was busy frying some eggs, I heard our two year old Amos smashing some sticks on to the little drum set while our four year old Liam strummed his Ukulele. He only knows one chord, and so he just played that dissonant note over and over while singing one simple phrase on repeat: “Praise The Lord.” Soon enough Amos had picked up the lyric and they were both shouting “praise the lord” while making as much noise as those plastic toys could. I have to tell you – it sounded TERRIBLE, but it was a beautiful moment.

There’s something refreshing about the reminder that it is not always the quality of the performance, but rather the purity of the heart behind it that matters. (Even if it gives me a headache). Our church has been incredibly blessed, but we have not been without struggle in the past few months. While we have continued to upgrade our livestream abilities – many weeks the performance has not been at the level we would prefer. Sometimes the audio is missing, or the video is choppy. Our Sunday School program has been postponed yet again due to concerns with teachers and the safety of the children. Many of our support groups have been unable to resume, only a handful of Life Groups are able to meet and many more troubles besides. And in those moments it can be really easy to focus on the terrible quality of the performance and forget what is happening: a beautiful collection of church people doing the best they can in a difficult time.

I usually prefer to focus on the many blessings God has brought to this church recently, but I did want to acknowledge the difficulties with this helpful reminder: It is not always the quality of the performance, but rather the purity of the heart behind it that matters. As we move forward, as a church we will continue to adapt and grow, learn and improve quality. (In much the same way, as my boys grow we will teach them how to properly play those instruments and help them find something resembling the proper key to sing in). I cannot always promise a perfect performance, there will be headaches along the way as we move into the future, but I can promise we here in this church are doing the best we can with what we’ve got and we will continue to adapt with flexibility to whatever challenges may come.

Furthermore, on October 25th we had our Stewardship Sunday. We spoke about what it means to live life with an open hand, and discussed the coming launch of the capital campaign of our church. One of the things I wanted to highlight is the creation of the Capital Campaign Team – a group of motivated individuals who are excited and committed to making this project a reality. If you are interested in being a part of that team, please let me know – because we have work to do.

Finally, I do have one quick request before I close this letter. Recently I read in a book by Mike Donehey, “Sometimes accomplishing less with our time, can mean loving the people around us more meaningfully.” As an avid lover of efficiency and to do lists, someone who is always rushing off to the next task, this is extremely convicting. I realized that I’m going to need to slow WAY down if I’m going to get better at loving people. So I’m asking for your help. I would like to slow down, and spend more time doing phone calls or even zoom meetings 1:1 with folks from this church. If you would appreciate a call – please let me know, and I’ll add you to my list! If COVID’s going to be around for a while, I want to slow down and learn how to love the people around me more meaningfully, but until then – I’ll see you on Sunday. -Pastor JJ

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