When Tami and I were first married, we lived in New Britain, CT, where I was the youth pastor at the Covenant church and Tami taught school. During the six years we lived there, we had to adjust to the culture - specifically as it related to interactions with strangers. If I were approaching you on the sidewalk, the expectation would be that we would neither greet each other nor even make eye contact. Cashiers did not engage in small talk. People simply hurried along in their own cocoon separately from those they didn't already know. And if you hadn't grown up with the person or have a multi-decade history in the community, you were an outsider and probably would not be invited into their close circle of friends.
Now, don't get me wrong. We had some wonderful friendships within the church and Tami's teacher friends were among her favorite people. But it was a bit disconcerting and we were ready for a change when we got called to move to Kalamazoo, MI. We immediately knew we were in a different place when we experienced strangers waving at our car as we drove past. Conversations happened with people wherever we went: at the store, McDonalds, in our neighborhood. The Midwest was certainly different than New England!
However, the outward friendliness did not automatically reflect the individual's actual feelings. There were times when we discovered that it was simply the interaction that was expected - much like a mask worn to fit in. Again, we developed wonderful friendships, but sometimes we wondered how much of our conversations were just about saying what you're supposed to say.
I'm not writing this to make judgments on anybody, but simply to bring up the question of honesty. There are many times when we fail to be completely honest for fear of hurting someone's feelings or being rejected by them. Certainly we need to be cautious with HOW we say things, but honesty is important, too.
What about our relationship with God? Are you able to say anything to Him? Can you express frustration, anger, and confusion as easily as you can express thanksgiving, joy, and praise?
This week we're beginning our next season of our three-year journey reading through the Bible using IMMERSE. This section is the POETS (Psalms, Lamentations, Song of Songs, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job). Each week we're reading for about 20 minutes a day, five days a week. This week our reading takes us through the first book of Psalms: Psalms 1-41.
This Sunday, February 16, we'll be looking specifically at Psalm 40 as an example of honestly talking to God. Be sure to at least read this Psalm ahead of time, but there's plenty of time to join us in this rich journey through these wonderful books. You can pick up a copy at church, order one on Amazon (including a Kindle version), and subscribe to the IMMERSE POETS podcast to listen to the audio version of each day's reading. Audio is also available at https://www.tyndale.com/sites/immersebible/poets-resources/
Hele mei hoohiwahiwa (come celebrate) at the Luau Potluck!
Don't miss out on our big "beat the winter blahs" Luau Potluck and Party coming up on LEAP DAY (Saturday, February 29th). Not only will be enjoy some great food, but there will be plenty of fun and games for all ages!
One of our values as a congregation is building inter-generational relationships and what better way to do that than to laugh and play together?! After all, we are all ohana (family). So break out your tropical outfit and join us for a memorable evening together! Ho'olu komo la kaua (please join us)!
Save the date - more details coming soon!
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Thoughts about living as a Jesus follower and life at Community Covenant Church