“In the Dark till I Met the Light”

Today was special at University Place Presbyterian Church — the children’s choir known as the Alleluia Singers put on their first musical theater production: Nic at Night by Kathie Hill. It was a wonderfully creative way for our community to gather, worship, and hear God’s word in a new way.

Nic at Night creatively tells the story of the pharisee, Nicodemus, covertly meeting with Jesus one night. This densely packed theological passage in the book of John contains one of the Bible’s most memorable proclamations:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

In the story, some local kids take notice of this high-status teacher sneaking around at night trying to meet with Jesus, who though a rabbi is garnering a reputation for going against rabbinical tradition, and even breaking God’s law. Nicodemus meeting with Jesus surely would have been frowned upon by his contemporaries.

In the process, Nicodemus learns as much about himself as he does about Jesus. In a moving solo, he sings the song “In the Dark” and admits:
“I was in the dark till I met the light; my cold, cold heart turned to Jesus Christ. I was in the dark, still my eyes could see, that even in the dark He was loving me.”

If only we all could meet with Jesus face to face! And yet, because of the Holy Spirit, we can meet with the risen Lord and know Jesus in a personal way. There are numerous opportunities for this, and I want to highlight a few:
Alpha will meet in the Wayside Cafe on Sunday evenings 6-8pm starting June 16 through July 28 (with a one-day Saturday retreat on Aug. 10 and a concluding session on Aug. 18).
ConneXions is a mid-size group that explores together what it means to put our knowledge and faith into action and lifestyle. They meet every Sunday at 9:30.
– There are several others through the summer, including women’s group The Well, men’s group True Men, and several weekday Bible studies. Find out more at UPPC.org “Pathways.”

May the beginning of your summer be a blessed season! We’ll continue our series on Moses next week!

In Grace,
MM

Jesus Rescues

It was Bible Day Camp at UPPC all last week!  And that means that our regularly-scheduled series was on hold this week as we celebrated all the KIDS!

The overall theme of the week was Shipwrecked, and you can see tons of photos of all the fun on our UPPC Facebook page.

There was a unique focus each day, and together they all had something in common.

  1. Loneliness.  We know Jesus understood this, in his own life and as he interacted with various people.  There was a woman who was isolated for twelve years because of a medical condition, and Jesus “rescued” her by giving her dignity…and of course physical healing as well.
  2. Worry.  Everyone worries, right?  But it rarely does much good.  When Jesus is in the home of Martha and Mary, Martha is “worried and upset” about many things, but Jesus reassures her that only one thing really matters: himself.  He rescues her from the notion that she has to be good enough and invites her to enjoy his presence.
  3. Struggle.  There are internal and external struggles of course, and sometimes they even overlap.  A very wealthy young man approaches Jesus, asking how to inherit eternal life.  But when Jesus tells him to sell everything, he struggles with his dilemma.  The good news is that Jesus looked at him and loved him, unconditionally.
  4. Wrongdoing.  Everyone has done wrong at some point or another, but not everyone’s sin has been retold for centuries the way Peter’s denial of Jesus has been.  Even though Jesus didn’t “rescue” him that night, he sure did the next day — on the cross.  The same place he rescues each of us from the sin that otherwise holds us down and leads to death.
  5. Powerlessness.  Like Peter, when we do wrong we often deal with regret, or being powerless to change things.  When Peter felt powerless after his denial of Jesus, Jesus came to him — resurrected, never to die again.  What’s more, he didn’t leave Peter (or any of us) powerless.  Jesus empowered him to be the rock of Christ’s church and begin sharing the good news throughout the known world.

All of these things share in common one universal human feature:  weakness.  That’s why the “Shipwrecked” theme is so great.  When we are truly shipwrecked in our loneliness, worry, struggles, sin, or powerlessness, Jesus’ love remains constant, the Holy Spirit remains present, and the power of God is made perfect in our weakness.

For reflection:

  1. One question this time!  Consider any one of the five human attributes above.  Rank them in order, from the most relevant to you right now, to the least.  Bring each of them to God in prayer and ask God to make his power perfect in your weakness.

 

Many blessings,

MM

 

…Then We Had Kids

Psalm 127 (NLT)

We all work hard at so many things.  Health, career, home, school…and of course relationships.  There’s even a familiar axiom: “Marriage is hard work.”

And the same is true for raising children.  No matter how children are introduced into a couple’s lives (natural birth, adoption, fostering, etc.) they represent a permanent change to the marriage dynamic.  Raising children is hard work, and in each stage of their childhood, challenges that get overcome are typically met with new challenges of the next stage of growing up!

Of course, raising children is also noble work!  But sometimes that for which we work the hardest can be the most difficult for us to relinquish control of.  This tendency to forget — or refuse — to let God have the final say in our lives is what Psalm 127:1-2 is about.

Moreover, if we work our hardest at raising good children, we can sometimes neglect the needs of marriage.  This is not only hard on the marriage, but it’s also hard on the kids, who find their deepest security in the strength of their parents’ love and commitment for one another.  So when children become part of a family, parents can (and should) take intentional steps to continue to cultivate the health of their marriage.

For reflection:

  1. What is something that you work really hard at, and what do you hope to accomplish?
  2. What can you do to regularly “let the Lord build your house?”
  3. What are some of the ways the presence of children can make it difficult to “work on” a marriage?
  4. What are some of the ways the presence of children can enhance a marriage?
  5. What are some ways that parents can intentionally nurture their marriage, after they’ve brought kids into the family?

Many blessings,

MM