In an attempt to present the Lord’s Supper as the time and place where we experience our unity with Christ and express the unity we have with all Christians in Christ, I used a picture during yesterday’s sermon depicting a variety of people joyfully gathered around a communion table. The picture served as the background in a PowerPoint slide for 1 Corinthians 12:13: “We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
A concerned parishioner gently informed me later that the picture showed a cat at the table.
A terrible, terrible mistake on my part. As God is my witness, I never once saw that cat when putting the PowerPoint together last week. We all know that all cats are reserved for the fiery lake of burning sulfur and do not have a place at the Table of our Lord. I regret the mistake. Please forgive me.
The gifts are wrapped. The candles are ready. The stage is set.
Please join us at Central this Sunday as we kick off our three-part series “Why Christmas?”
I’ll post a full preview here tomorrow. Or you can go here right now.
The Cowboys and Redskins are playing tonight in Arlington, both teams at 5-6, both teams more or less playing out the string now, pretty much out of any kind of playoff running. Still, it’s Cowboys-Redskins. And, still, there’s no better day-to-day, week-in-and-week-out drama than Jerry Wayne’s Cowboys. To get you ready for tonight, I highly recommend this excellent piece by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell. It’s a lengthy and detailed analysis of the Cowboys’ problems since Ezekiel Elliot began serving his suspension. Barnwell makes a really strong case that the Cowboys aren’t missing Elliot as much as Dak Prescott is faltering at quarterback. If you ever wanted to make the case that Prescott only looks good because of Zeke, now would be the time to do it — Dak has thrown more interceptions over the past three games than he did his entire rookie season. But Barnwell expertly outlines how the running game is putting up the same numbers without Elliot as they did with their superstar back. And he accurately spreads the blame around to injuries, receivers, coaching, and offensive line. And Dak.
One of the many intentionally intergenerational events we hold here at Central is our annual college night. We bring in recruiters from ACU, OC, LCU, West Texas A&M, Amarillo College, OU, and Texas Tech. And they bring their T-shirts and posters and catalogues. We invite our entire church to show up in their college gear, supporting their schools and interacting with the Central middle school and high school students who are shopping for colleges. And it’s always a fun night. We give away door prizes and play silly trivia games. And we encourage our younger people to talk to our older people about where they went to school.
I enjoy reminiscing about the good ol’ days with fellow Oklahoma Christian alums like Jeff & Michelle and Steve & Connie. It’s fun to talk to our Central teenagers about college life. Their reactions, too, are interesting. It’s almost like they can’t imagine their old preacher really being a teenager and living in a dorm and going to college.
I’m grateful to belong to a church that places such an emphasis on intergenerational relationships. I’m thankful that, even though it’s sometimes hard to determine whether anything’s being accomplished, we keep plugging away at forcing our older and younger people into the same rooms together. It matters.
Thank you to OC recruiter Lauren Bridgeforth for making the trip to Amarillo. And thanks to Adam and Tanner and the Adees for pulling off a fabulously fun evening.
Central’s Fall Festival gets a little bit bigger and better every year. Last night’s shindig saw nearly 700 — Mary’s count, not a preacher’s count — of our members and tons of people from our downtown neighborhoods share costumes and candy, games and activities, and about four tons of Frito Pie.
We had our usual game booths and food items and Karaoke stage. Steve Nordyke was covered in cotton candy for the tenth year in a row, Pat Treat painted dozens of faces, and Mark Love refused to sing. The Amarillo Discovery Center stole the evening, though, with the animals they brought: two massive pythons, a chameleon, hedgehogs, rabbits, and a giant hissing cockroach. Their corner of Sneed Hall was packed all night.
The intergenerational focus of the fun is an important highlight for us. And meeting so many people who’ve never been inside our building before is such a joy.
Congratulations to Mary and Sarah and all the volunteers who pulled off another stellar event.
The movie “Same Kind of Different As Me” opened up Friday night and Central enjoyed the local premiere with thirty clients from The PARC. The new movie is based on the 2007 book by the same name about the unlikely friendship of Fort Worth art dealer Ron Hall and a homeless man named Denver Moore. Panhandle Adult Rebuilding Center (PARC), one of our local ministry partners here at Central, is an Amarillo organization dedicated to bringing more of our city’s homeless population into Christian community. As a fundraiser, our church at Central rented out the biggest theater at Hollywood 16 here in Amarillo and invited all the men and women from The PARC to watch the new movie with us. And we had a blast.
The evening began at the Cerulean Gallery downtown where we viewed many of Denver Moore’s original paintings and a whole bunch of other high-priced art. Mainly, most of us just walked around saying, “I could do that!”
But then it was off to the movies where about a hundred of us from Central hung out with PARC members eating popcorn, drinking cokes, and watching the show.
It was interesting how parts of the movie made the church people laugh and other parts of the movie made the homeless people laugh. Parts of the movie — and maybe parts of the whole evening — were a little uncomfortable. But it was a good “uncomfortable,” like we knew this was good for us, like we’re working in some small way to break down the walls between all of God’s children, like some of us are recognizing that what we have in common far outweighs our differences, like being together, even in these short spurts, is a really good thing.
Thank you so much to Valerie and Jenna and Robert and everybody at The PARC for inviting us to participate with them Friday night. Thank you to all the folks from Central who made it happen. And may our Father continue to bless us with more opportunities to serve, more boldness to act, and more faith to believe that he is powerfully at work when we jump out of our comfort zones to be present with others.
It’s Missions Month here at Central — probably my favorite recurring season on our local church calendar — and our focus during these five Sundays is on the purpose of God’s great love.
“If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” ~1 John 4:12
“Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete in us.” ~1 John 4:16-17
God’s love is what saves us. The matchless love of God transcends the barriers of time and space to reach into our hearts and draw us in to a righteous relationship with him. God’s love achieves for us total forgiveness and absolute peace. Praise God! But God’s love, which existed for us “before the foundations of the world,” only realizes its true mission, it only accomplishes its eternal purpose, when you and I show that same divine love to others.
That’s the cycle. That’s the ultimate point of God’s great love for us.
This divine love that’s existed for all time comes from God. It is showered lavishly on us through Jesus Christ. We experience that love, we are saved by that love. But that love isn’t complete until we show that same love to other people. Or, to say it positively, like John: The whole point of God’s perfect love is fulfilled — it’s made complete — when we live to love others.
We love completely because we’ve been completely loved.
“We love because he first loved us.” ~1 John 4:19
When the world is hurting, God’s people should be healing. When the world is afraid, disciples of Jesus should be bold. When the world is confused, the Church should be clear. When people are surrounded by hate, we should be where they encounter God’s love. Completely.