,For seven or eight years, when our kids were younger, it happened every winter like clockwork. Debbie would leave our home in Sacramento and head north to be with her grandparents in Southern Oregon somewhere around the 20th of December while I stayed back with the kids. The task list she prepared prior to going left us consumed with getting everything ready and packed for our own trip to Medford on Christmas Eve and then onward to my folks house in Portland early Christmas morning. Oh, the wonder of a promised adventure actually happening!
Although our kids, having had daily and weekly chores from the time they were little, were good workers, somehow these last few days before the annual Christmas voyage proved quite a challenge. In spite of the rather sizable number of tasks that needed to be completed prior to our departure, everyone seemed to be in bit of a dream state. Or distracted. Kind of like the sugarplums dancing in their heads... or something like that. It was a colossal case of wonder and, as a father, although I often ended up repeating myself in order to get some results, it was pretty cool. Such times aren’t a promise in life and should be savored when they come.
In the past year, I’ve had a few days and seasons around here that have inspired some of that same kind of excitement. Frankly, this time last year felt pretty bleak. A lot of soul-searching resulted and some of my thoughts were pretty disconcerting. As I look back, I realize that whatever sense of clarity I may have imagined was still pretty fuzzy. I prayed a lot for a fresh and clear look, as did many of you, and it was slow in coming. But, however slow, the effort is bringing results!
When my old buddy Leonard Lee visited us last January, he made time to guide us through a process that would ultimately lead us to becoming the church that Jesus had envisioned when he left earth to return to heaven. The key was rekindling this original fire and translating it into the 21st century -- of becoming a church of people that love God first, love others next, and are mission-centered so they become disciples who intentionally grow until they may lead others to become replicating disciples, too!
This Sunday’s class, “Exploring and Preparing for Disciple-Making” is full with nearly 40 people registered, which is incredible, since we thought having 12-15 would be great. Like the 50 who came to Leonard’s workshop back in January, far beyond our expectations! Which is where that giddy, distracted, full of joy and expectation thing comes in. If you’re like me. you’ve probably been around churches enough to know what it’s like to over-estimate something; to plan for a good group and have nobody show up. Or cast a dream that nobody seems interested in doing. It’s discouraging, to say the least. Contrast that with a dream we spent seven hours together talking and praying to see where it would lead. Then fast forward nine months to give the Disciple-Making team time to plan and prepare, and realize that, not only are you remembering what we said we said, you are anxious to get going!
Can’t wait to see where the Father takes us, now!