Category: Central Church Family (page 1 of 45)

The Gospel at Central

My heart is filled with gratitude this morning. My soul is overflowing with thanksgiving for the grace of our God and for his good people here at Central. The Lord showered his mercy on us here yesterday. His Holy Spirit met us here — as promised, as always — and blessed us as a congregation.

Yesterday was the first day our sisters in Christ served the communion meal during a Sunday assembly at Central. It was a special day, a highly significant day. And, at the same time, it felt so normal for us.

Four of our graduated High School seniors, two young ladies and two young men leaving town this week for their first years of college, read the Scriptures and led the prayers. A dozen of our families — moms and dads, sons and daughters, those too young to carry a tray and teenagers who are almost too cool, grandparents with their grandkids — walked the aisles, serving the body and blood of Christ to our church.

It was so new for us. And so familiar. Very emotional. Yet, sort of anti-climactic.

It just felt so right. The readings and prayers were beautiful. The kids who served with their parents were super cute. It was very inter-generational. And only one tray was dropped in the back. It was a watershed moment in the long life of this faithful church, but in so many ways it felt like a typical Sunday.

We believe that all Christians are gifted by God’s Holy Spirit — male and female, men and women, alike. We do believe that all Christians are called by God to exercise those gifts to build up the Church. And we value our families at Central. We go out of our way to encourage our young people and to honor our older people. We try to nurture an atmosphere where everybody feels like they belong at Central. So to see that kind of diversity scattered throughout the worship center, serving the communion meal, didn’t feel very different from what we always do at Central.

Our sisters have been singing solos, reading Scripture, baptizing friends and family, blessing teens, making announcements, and encouraging our church in a variety of ways on Sunday mornings for years. Yesterday, they helped distribute the bread and the cup.

Yesterday we took another step in breaking down the barriers between men and women that were erected with our sin in Genesis 3. We added another important layer to our congregation’s testimony that all the barriers between us and God and between us and each other have been eradicated in Christ Jesus. We made a deeper commitment to proclaiming and practicing the Gospel in here.

And the Lord blessed us.

My heart is so full of gratitude this morning.

Peace,

Allan

If

Nationally-acclaimed poet David Bowden was at Central last night as part of our “Together@Central” summer Wednesday nights series. David is a powerful proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s a poet, a preacher, a minister, a composer, a performer, and a gifted prophet. And last night he inspired and encouraged us, he taught and challenged us. He opened up the Word of God to us in brand new ways that made an eternal impact on every person in our chapel.

David performed one of my favorites: “If.” Here’s the Youtube version. It’s different, but not better than what he did here last night.

Mosaic

We celebrated an evening of praise and paints at church Wednesday night as part of our summer “Together@Central” program to illustrate the unity of our relationships together in Christ. Lots of acrylic paint, lots of music, lots of kids and older adults and everybody in between. And one beautiful, interactive, bold mosaic to display and serve as a reminder of our bonds.

 

 

 

 

Each of us was given an eight-by-eight square canvas which was divided into several dozen smaller squares, plenty of paint brushes, and just enough paint, and then instructed to paint all the squares, leaving one of our choosing completely blank. Easy enough.

Over the next 45-minutes, one by one, we each completed our canvas. Some of us painted each square a different color, some of us used a “Tetris” style of creating same-color designs out of the connecting squares, some of us meticulously labored over each square, and some of us slopped the paint on almost haphazardly.

As we painted, we were reminded that each of us has different gifts and different talents, different personalities and different views, but we are all one body together in Christ. In Christ, we, who are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. The way you paint your canvas says something about your personality. It expresses something unique about your skills. It kind of represents you. The white square, the one you leave blank, is you. The color around it is what God brings to the table around you and through you.

One by one the canvasses were dried and hung in place on the wall until the bigger picture began to take shape and come sharply into focus: our church logo, the cross of Christ, right there in the middle surrounded by all our unique expressions of our God-given personalities and gifts.

 

Nicely executed, Kevin Schaffer and Judy Rogers. Wow. What a great night together and what a powerful reminder that our Lord desires unity in our diversity for his glory and for the sake of others. Thank you to Kevin and his team and to everyone who came out and participated.

Now where do we hang this thing?

Peace,

Allan

4Amarillo Week 2019

What a joy to come together with our Christian brothers and sisters from the other three downtown congregations for four days of outreach programs and service projects. This is our fifth annual “4Amarillo Week” in Amarillo, a collaboration between First Baptist, First Presbyterian, Polk Street United Methodist, and Central Church of Christ. This week we’re running a morning Vacation Bible School at Margaret Wills Elementary and an evening VBS at San Jacinto Elementary. We’re feeding all the kids from those two communities lunch and dinner to go with the Bible stories, the games, the arts and crafts projects, and worship times. We’re also working in the San Jacinto Neighborhood Garden.

 

 

 

All four churches are gathering at San Jacinto tonight for the annual 4Amarillo Ice-Cream Social. For the past five years we’ve hosted this at Central and judged all the homemade ice-cream and gave out trophies in a bunch of fun categories. But this year, we’re taking it to the community. We’re going to make hundreds of ice-cream sundaes for all the kids who are attending these neighborhood VBSes, their families, all the volunteers, and everybody from the four churches.

Praise God for the blessed privilege of joining him in breaking down the walls between his people and his churches and taking the Good News of salvation in his Son Jesus to our neighbors in Amarillo.

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Our Central missionaries in Bogota, Columbia — Byron and Sandra Cana and their two sons, Diego and Derek — arrived in Amarillo late this morning and will be here with us for almost two weeks. I was honored to join them and Steve & Debbie Cearley and Tom & Janice Grant, four members of Central’s foreign missions committee, for a good ol’ Texas lunch at Cracker Barrel. It was great hearing Byron and Sandra’s improved English, it was encouraging to hear about the Lord’s work in Bogota, and it was entertaining listening to Tom try to explain to the Canas what exactly is a Sod Poodle.

Peace,

Allan

Together @ the Poodles

If the Lord was looking for us last night at the church building, we’re going to have to get on the next boat. All of Central assembled at the new downtown Amarillo ballpark last night for dollar hot dogs and the Sod Poodles game. It was the second event of our “Together@Central” summer Wednesday night series, in which our whole church is celebrating the relationships we have with each other in several unique worship and entertainment settings. (As always, click on the image for the full size.)

The weather was perfect, the food was good, and the atmosphere was fun and relaxed as more than 250 of us hung out in the right field seats and concourse. The Poodles beat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 4-1 to pull to within a half game of first place in the Texas League South. But I didn’t realize until this morning that Amarillo’s manager had been ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes and that the Poodles’ starting pitcher threw seven innings of shutout ball. Baseball wasn’t really the focus last night; I didn’t see a whole lot of the actual game. Baseball was just the setting. Enjoying each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, getting caught up with my church family — that was the point. And it worked.

Somehow we pulled it off: skipping church to go to a baseball game. It worked. I haven’t heard a single complaint. Instead, I’ve heard dozens of “thank yous” and received lots of gratitude. We saw people at the game last night who haven’t attended a Wednesday night event at Central in decades! We saw several visitors to our church who’ve just started coming to Central and are wanting to learn more and make some connections. So we got caught up with each other and most of us made some new friends, too.

We’re coming through the end of a stressful time at Central. The Ignite campaign and the disruptive construction that came with it, the youth minister vacancy, search process, and hire, and our teaching and transition to an expansion of the public service roles for women during our Sunday morning assemblies — all of that has fatigued various pockets of people in our church family. I think our whole congregation probably feels the cumulative effect of so much “work” in such a concentrated period of time. We might be a tad drained. So just chilling together on Wednesday nights feels like the right thing to do. Reminding ourselves of the great value of the relationships we have together in Christ. Just worshiping God — singing familiar songs and praying together — in different environments that re-awaken us to the blessings we enjoy in Christ. And eating nachos together, talking about the kids, cheering on the local baseball team, hearing stories from the folks who’ve seen it all in this town, and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame!” That’s good, too.

God wasn’t looking for us last night. He knew exactly where we were. Because he was with us.

Peace,

Allan

Ruckus or Markus?

Central is packing the downtown ballpark for tonight’s Sod Poodles game. Is our Local Missions Minister, Mark Love, going to be inside the “Ruckus” costume?

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