I look around the circle in my living room Sunday night. What a mess! Wow, what a mess!
A divorced single mom, struggling to make ends meet, dealing with fatigue and a teenage son. She’s cancer-free now for three years, but fighting other battles that just won’t go away. A couple who’ve just come back to the Lord after several years of living for themselves. Two teenaged children next to them. One was just baptized. One just gave birth to a baby girl last week. A single woman who just moved here from West Texas a couple of months ago for a job that now appears to be heading south. She’s stressed like you wouldn’t believe. And confused. A single dad with two teenagers. He’s dealing with all kinds of physical ailments like diabetes and bone and joint problems. A recently blended family, the product of infidelity and deceit. Four kids. All of them scarred by rejection and hurt. An older guy, a veteran soldier of Christ, struggling with his own arthritis and pain problems. An Hispanic couple from Puerto Rico with two young daughters; he’s burned out at work, she’s home-schooling the kids.
And I see myself in the mirror over the antique stereo in my living room. A new preacher filled with self-doubt. Overwhelmed by the enormity of his circumstance. Battling insecurities. Inadequacies. Ego. Sin.
In that circle on Sunday nights, we give our messes to our God and to each other. We carry each other. We serve each other. We encourage one another and affirm that our Father is holding our hands and walking with us on our journeys. We go around the circle and pray for each other. We go around the circle and tell our stories. We go around the circle and admit shortcomings and pledge to do better. We buy a baby stroller together and shower the new child-mother with the love of Christ. And we show that God forgives. We go out to dinners with the families struggling to renew their faith. And we show that God protects. We raise money for the single mom and present it to her as a gift of God’s grace. And we show that God provides. We visit hospitals and even a mental health facility once to help bear one another’s burdens. And we show that God cares.
And a week doesn’t go by that tears are not shed. Tears of gratitude. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. Tears of astonishment that our God can be so good.
I’m not sure what’s happening in the other 36 Small Groups at Legacy. I hear stories almost every week about members of our church family who are being carried and served by their Small Groups. A single dad in the hospital with emergency gall bladder surgery. A young police officer injured in a motorcycle accident. A neighbor displaced by a house fire. Small Groups providing meals and prayers and rides and support and money and strength to the kinds of people who would normally slip through the cracks in a church as big as ours. Without Small Groups, these folks have no connection, they have no one to call, no one to take care of them in a crunch, much less day-to-day and week-to-week. With Small Groups, they have everything. And more.
Our God put us in community. He calls us to be together. It’s his plan. It’s his purpose for his people. To minister to one another. To provide and protect and defend and lift up one another in the name of our Christ. We are, afterall, a Kingdom of Priests. Sacrifice and service. Giving up everything and dying for others. Being transformed. Becoming more like him.
We’ve got a wreck of a group in our house on Sunday nights. All kinds of problems and issues. Tons of baggage. But we’ve all seen, we’ve all experienced, every one of us without exception, our God working in us and through us together to draw us closer to him and to a realization of his divine purposes for our lives. We are not inadequate. We are not insecure. We are not weak or unable. We have our powerful God, the Creator of the Universe. And we have each other. Just the way he intends.
December 9, 2008
The final regular season “KK&C Top 20″ college football poll reflects not only the standings in most other highly respected lists, but also the national outcry (again) against the system that determines the national champion. OU receives four first place votes to leap into the top spot, followed by their title tilt opponent Florida. At just one point back, Texas falls to third, out of the only game that matters. In fact, a total of just four points separates our top three teams with Alabama and USC rounding out the top five.
Our die-hard regulars contributed their same great, entertaining comments to go with their votes. Familiar themes such as Mike Gundy’s manly boasts and Joe Pateno’s decaying hip make expected appearances. David Byrnes reacts typically to the postseason matchups: “Alabama vs. Utah? There’s no BCS computer! Someone’s just drawing names from a hat!” Charlie Johanson finishes strong with one final (for now) Oregon Duck crack. But his comment about Cincinnati and WKRP shows little knowledge of what a real TV sitcom should look like; or a pre-plasticized Loni Anderson.
Ball State fell out (nobody loses to Bufallo and stays in our poll) along with Boston College and Missouri, replaced by Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, and Michigan State.
The final, final, final “KK&C Top 20″ will be released Friday night, January 9 after the coaches have voted the winner of the national championship game national champion, as per the arrangement.
As always, click on the green “KK&C Top 20” tab in the upper right hand corner of this screen to get the full poll, all the comments, and complete profiles of all the voters.