The Basics

Here is the sermon, “The Basics”  from February 23, 2014. If you are interested in the Facebook note mentioned, please let me know and I’ll make sure you get a copy. Sorry there is no text, this one was not what I had written for this morning, God had different plans. – Pastor Alex

The Big Picture

Sometimes I can get so focused on the task in front of me that I forget that my actions, choices and decisions have a much wider impact. One way in which I try to stay in contact with the larger church is through my participation in the area and regional ministries of the church. Last fall I was elected to serve as a representative on the area board, and on the Commission on Mission and Unity for the region. But, how to share with you what is happening at the larger levels of the church? Well, this time I thought I would share with you a letter from the moderator of our Area Board following our meeting in late January. I hope it helps connect you to what is happening as our congregations gather to do ministry together.

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Greetings from the Area Board,

As the new moderator for the board, I want to make every effort to keep you informed as to what is happening in the Area by sending you a brief review of things I believe to be important from our meetings.  The Area Board held its first meeting of 2014 on Sunday afternoon, January 26th at South Street Christian Church in Springfield.  New members to the board were welcomed by Mike Weinman the Area Minister, and then Mike opened the meeting with a brief devotion and prayer.

There have been some changes to the leadership of the Disciples Women/CWF with the resignation of Susan Sprague as president. Shirley Scott from Nixa Christian Church is the new president and she reports that they are in need of a secretary as well.  If you know of someone who would like to fulfill this important ministry, please contact Shirley.

One topic of interest has to do with what Mike termed, “parallel work between the region and area.”  The Regional Executive Committee and Council of Areas is working directly with Todd Adams in Indianapolis discerning how the Region will govern itself, and how this will impact the Areas.  Many aspects are under consideration as to how Region and Area meld together to best support all our congregations.  We will be continuing to have cluster representatives attend the Council of Areas meetings as part of that board.  The Region is also creating a “response team” with three volunteers from each of the areas.  This team will be responding to church questions concerning theological and cultural issues pertaining to the topic of “What it means to be Disciples.”  Phil Snider, Greg Turner and Chad McMullin are the three members from OLA.

Three things to be watching for more information about are the April 4th & 5th Healthy Congregations Workshop at Central Christian Church in Springfield, upcoming Church Camp programs including the new “Faith Adventures Camp at Lake Pomme de Terre” and the Area Assembly which will be in November at the First Christian Church in Bolivar.

One final note which is of great importance has to do with the financial condition of the Area.  As you are probably well aware of from your own church’s financial situation, funds continue to grow tighter with today’s economic conditions.  Congregational giving to the area was down $17,623 in 2013 and individual giving to the area was down by $2,775.00.  As of January 1, 2014 our unrestricted reserve funds have been depleted.  I would ask that all of the churches and individuals in the area consider how they might find ways to help improve the financial health of the Area.  We know how to be creative when we really want something, so I encourage you to be creative in finding a way to support the ministry of the Area.

For more complete information on the Area Board Meeting please contact the Area office or your Cluster Representative.

Blessings in Jesus,

Bill Nichols, Moderator Ozark Lakes Area

Life on the Wire

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. —  Hebrews 12:1

What is the one thing that every high-wire act in the circus needs?  Balance. Oh, sure, there are other elements that are important, but none quite so much as balance. Some flash and showmanship are essential to making a living at walking the wire, if you are going to do it at all, you need balance.  At one circus, there was a part in the act where one of the clowns imitated the high-wire act.  Of course, the clown was only inches from the ground, so there was never really any threat and the crowd got a good laugh.

All that laughter stopped when, moments later, this same intrepid clown was balancing high overhead on the real high wire.  The clown did make it across (as had undoubtedly been practiced time and time again) but there was a different feel to watching the progress.  With the clown, every few steps it seemed as though tragedy would strike, arms would flail wildly in the air, shoulders would lurch forward and back and a very large foot would slip off of the wire toward certain doom.  When the “real” high-wire act was on the wire, all of their motions were controlled, they seemed in perfect control, feet gracefully touched down each step, the balancing pole never wavered more than a few inches, there was beauty in the art.

Both the clown and the high-wire team knew exactly what they were doing and both presentations played a part in the show.  And, both have something to teach us about the life of faith.  It is critical to our survival to pay attention to how we place our feet, one missed step and, well…  To maintain our safety, we need to focus our eyes where we are going, not where we are.  And, keeping our knees bent and arms wide will help us stay balanced and on-track.  Those are the common things that we can learn from both performances.

We also learn that well-orchestrated chaos can take your breath away, and refined grace can be awe-inspiring.  While the clown was on the line, no one in the audience thought climbing on the wire was a good idea.  But during the high-wire act, the artists performed with such grace it seemed anyone could do it.  If we live our lives full of grace and poise, maybe, just maybe someone will see us walking our faith-wire and imagine they could do it, too.