June 19th is officially a federal holiday.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported, “Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery and is also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day and Juneteenth Independence Day. Its name stems from June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, issued General Order No. 3, which announced that in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free.” Months later, the 13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the final four border states that had not been subjected to President Abraham Lincoln’s order" (17 June 2021)
This week, I wanted to share three key thoughts about what this new holiday means for Jesus people like us living in America, today.
1. We have an incredible opportunity to empathize and connect with our neighbors.
While some of us might not feel the hurt of past sins, we are called to empathize and share the pain that our black neighbors and friends have and continue to experience.
Empathy is part of Jesus’ way (Hebrews 4:15).
Want to learn more about empathy? Click here to check out Brene Brown’s video. Sharing this video does not endorse or imply agreement in all things.
2. We have a chance to love people and not an opinion or social issue.
People are people - not a collection of opinions or social issues. God made each of us with intrinsic value (Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:14). So, to pride ourselves on an opinion or social issue as if it is gospel truth is not loving people - it’s actually loving oneself.
Jesus chooses humility (Philippians 2:1-5). He empties his opinion (Philippians 2:6) in order to love all people (John 3:16), not to judge or condemn them (John 3:17).
One way to love people this Juneteenth is to listen and learn from somebody in the black community. Invite them to share how you can honor their freedom and join Jesus in His mission of reconciliation.
3. Juneteenth brings another opportunity for people to experience grace in a different way.
Jesus’ spirit is alive and well in every time, culture, and place. That means through something seemingly secular as a federal holiday, God is at work.
The Emancipation Proclamation echoes the words of the Apostle Paul: you are free (Romans 6:18). This is grace! Freedom was originally theirs. It was taken from them by somebody else. And now freedom was restored.
This is their story. This is God’s story. This is our story.
When we connect the dots, we can come together and experience God’s grace in a shared and different way than the earned grace the world can offer us.
Let me know what you think about this week’s blog by sending me a note at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.
I love you and I’m cheering you on as we live life on mission, together! -pt
Over the years, people like you have become a vital part of our Parkland-Summit-Waller community through simple acts of service. Our goal has been and will continue to be seeking out and responding to needs in and around our area.
According to Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. and Lawrence Robinson, serving 2-3 hours a week brings incredible health benefits as well as a sense of purpose and joy.
So, here are 3 ways to tell if it’s right for you.
1. You Feel Isolated from Others and Know You Need to Get Connected
Whether it’s ZOOM calls, Team Meetings, or simply just not getting together with people as often or in the same way, life today just feels different than our pre-COVID days. So, let’s name it: pandemic isolation. And it’s real. And it’s OK to feel it.
When we feel isolated (whether from the pandemic or any other reason), we have a choice. We always have a choice.
Choice 1: Remain isolated and disconnected
Choice 2: Reconnect with somebody
Faith in Action Saturdays is a great way to reconnect with somebody. Call up a friend and spend a few hours together pulling weeds for your neighbor or help make some VBS decorations at church. And if you’re an introvert - it’s only 3 hours… you can go home and enjoy some quiet time over lunch afterwards.
Remember - when you feel isolated, you always have a choice to get reconnected… and serving together is a great place to start.
2. You Want to Help Others and Don’t Know Where to Start
I believe that God has made every human being with a natural desire to help other people. When we study Genesis 1 and 2, it’s how I believe God created us to be and to live.
The problem is that there are so many ways we can help others or we see such an overwhelming number of needs that sometimes we don’t know where to start.
Faith in Action pairs real community needs with simple hands-on projects while focusing everything we do toward giving our time and skills to real people. Sometimes we help people through our community partner organizations who extend the hands and feet of Jesus beyond our capacity as a church. Other times, we help people that we already know within our church family. At the end of the day, it’s still all about people.
Are you overwhelmed by so many ways to serve or the incredible amount of need that you see?
Let’s begin with Faith in Action Saturdays. It will help you help others with real needs - simple.
3. You’re Tired of Negativity and Want to Remind People of Hope
I don’t know about you, but it seems like Debbie Downer is everywhere.
On the radio. On my news feed. At work and school. Even in my own mind and heart.
In a world broken and shattered with the shrapnel of hopelessness, through serving, we can be reminded that there is hope.
In ancient times, lights reminded people that the safety of a city and the resources of others were available when they were in need. All they needed to do was to follow the light.
In a world filled with dark moments, Jesus continues to be the light that reminds all people that there is hope. And who is that tangible, human light today?
It’s you and me. Jesus said, you are the light of the world (John 8:12). You are Jesus’ hands, feet, and voice of hope.
Are you tired of negativity in your life and in the world around you? Bring the hope of Jesus that is alive in you alive through a Faith in Action Saturday. Trust me - you will leave filled with more sunshine than rain clouds.
So, are you in?
Our next Faith in Action Saturday is June 19 from 8-11am. We will begin at our Tacoma Campus where we review the projects for the day, form teams, and work to complete our projects. You can learn more and register at go.oslc.com/fia.
Our Annual Voters’ Assembly (Church Business Meeting) is scheduled for Sunday, June 27 - and to tell you the truth, I’m really looking forward to it.
Over the years, I’ve learned that many who have given up on the “business of the church” have not necessarily given up on their relationship with Jesus. In fact, many of them still regularly attend worship, are engaged with other people in a group, and may even serve donuts or serve on a ministry team.
They have simply said, “no” to being a Board member, elder, or part of an Annual Business Meeting for a variety of reasons including not having the time to commit to evening meetings, sour past experiences, too many meetings, that they have no desire to "see how the sausage is made", or they simply find church business to be boring - especially when they know that other people will step up and do it.
All those reasons are reasonable, understandable, and fair.
At the same time, the truth is, while church business is not everybody’s cup of tea, I believe that each person has a part to play in the “business” of the church.
Here are three reasons I believe being engaged in church business is important… dare I say, even mission critical.
Church Business Gives You a Wider Perspective of God’s Work
When you attend worship, it’s easy to consume the “spiritual goods and experience”. A mentor of mine once told me, “no money, no ministry”. And while God can use anything and anybody to do His work, I believe God explicitly brings together people to be His church to do His work.
When we see the dollars and cents and together say “yes, let’s use these resources to make a Jesus-like difference in the lives of other people”, God is showing us that His work begins long before we walk up to a table to grab donuts and coffee, gather for your Life Group or Bible Study, or pack a backpack full of food for a hungry local family.
God’s work begins when His Spirit invades the hearts of people and inspires them to faithfully and generously give away what God has already given to them. Why? So that more people can experience God’s love through ordinary people and participate in Jesus’ mission of loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus.
Now, I don't know about you, but that gets my "let's join Jesus on His mission" blood flowing!
Church Business Connects You With New People in Your Church Family
Let’s be honest. We tend to stay in our individual circles. It's not bad. It's human.
And, in a larger churches, it's a fact that it is difficult to know a whole lot of people unless you totally immerse yourself into it - which takes time, and a degree of God-given extroversion. Side plug: this is why Connecting in a Life Group and Joining a Ministry Team is so important here at Our Savior.
Gathering at an Annual Meeting gives us an opportunity to meet people who may attend different services than you do. And, now with both our Tacoma and Online Campuses, there’s a good possibility that you really don’t know other people until you spend time in a shared experience with them.
During an Annual Meeting, you’ll hear members of the Board of Directors and perhaps some of our elders, too. It’s a time for you to get to hear from and get to know these people you may never have met before. And yet, even though you’ve never met, you share an incredible commonality with them: your love for Jesus and your desire to see more people love Him back with you.
God Can Use Church Business Meetings to Change Your Heart
While I know plenty of people who get excited for baptisms, worship, serving our neighbors, mission trips, and opportunities to grow in God’s Word, I think I’ve only heard one person who has told me “I’m really excited for this year’s annual meeting”.
Heart change takes time and we usually don’t experience it or even notice it as a result of a single experience.
The transformation of our hearts by the Holy Spirit happens when we share multiple experiences with multiple people over multiple times around multiple topics of conversation. Each interaction is like a mini lego. And if C.S. Lewis would take that image, we could say that while we may think God is building a house with those legos, the truth is, God is building a mansion with them - a mansion with His throne in the center of it.
The truth is, there can be a lot of different opinions and perspectives shared at church business meetings. And while division like this in the “kingdom of the world” suggests non-compliance and signals a need to win an augment - in God’s kingdom, this is the kind of diversity that augments our unity in Jesus’ work in us.
While we may have a wide variety of opinions when it comes to candidates, votes, financial and ministry plans; God’s Spirit continually changes our hearts to remind us that ministry is not about me or us - it’s about Him and what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do forever.
For me, I often leave church meetings more passionate about Jesus’ work, more encouraged that Jesus’ mission is alive and well in and through us, and inspired to see what God has already prepared for us to do in the next year and beyond.
And, that’s my prayer for you, too. . . that if you’ve never been a part of a church business meeting, that you would consider giving our Annual Voters’ Assembly on June 27 a try. You can learn more and register at oslc.com/annualmeeting.
If you’ve been part of church business meetings in the past, your continued presence encourages and inspires your church family to “keep going”.
And, if you’ve been jaded by church business in the past, send me an email because I'd love to walk with you through that jadedness into a new place filled with God's healing of your past and His forgiveness of the wrongs as His Spirit does "heart surgery" on you.
When I think about it... that’s the kind of work God has been up to since the beginning of time and will continue to do forever... even through church business meetings.
The OSLC ministry team is a growing collection of women and men who live as a family on mission, leading the OSLC family in connecting an unchanging God with a changing world by loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus.