As most of you know by now, Robert and his family are on sabbatical this summer. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “How are you managing with Robert gone?” It’s understandable. After all, Robert is the fearless leader of this place we call our spiritual home (or home away from home, for some of you). They are concerned. Eager to know we’re doing ok. Maybe even just a teensy bit worried. I get it.
Well I have one word for you: Chapelpalooza, baby!
(For those not up on your music festival slang, a palooza is a sort of exaggerated event or situation that usually involves some sort of presentation and definite excitement.) Thanks to outstanding preachers, world-class musicians, crazy fun camps for kids, women’s workshops, summer seminars for adults, trainings for care givers, Sunday Morning Encores, color runs, baptisms, weddings, superheroes, firefighters, and so much more….We have basically designed our very own Snowmass Summer Chapelpalooza!
Now, please don’t misunderstand. This is not because while the cat’s away the mice are all playing. No, this summer is, in fact, honoring our beloved senior pastor because a summer of profound growth, opportunities and excitement is precisely what we as a Chapel, along with Robert, envisioned before he ever left.
Many people spent months last winter planning; we prayed about having exciting and inspiring workshops; we asked God to guide our thoughts and ideas so that our plans would be His plans, not ours. An entire team of people helped design, implement and fund a sabbatical that would be a complete renewal of body, mind and spirit for all of Snowmass Chapel, not just the pastor. An army of church ladies are basically laying hands on this place and praying us all the way into heaven, or at least all the way to Robert’s safe return.
And all along there has been a great intention behind what we do. The Chapel staff, for example, created a vision board expressing all the feelings and outcomes we hoped to have this summer. As we teetered on the narrow ledge of independence, we dared to fill the board with our wildest hopes and dreams. Words like COMMUNITY, DEEPENING FAITH, ENERGY, EXCITEMENT, GRACE-FILLED, and TEAM peppered the board; it now hangs in our office building as a daily reminder. THIS is who we are.
In short, with the temporary absence of our exceptional spiritual leader, this Chapel left very little to chance and, instead, in prayer-fueled confidence, we are taking chances. I’m so proud of us.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” I believe that God means those words as much for us today as he did for the Israelites who first heard the prophet Jeremiah speak them.
My prayer for each of you is that you, too, will turn to God in times of transition and change. Not just seeking guidance and answered prayer, but leaning completely on the One who works all things together for good. Because we might be able to make something good happen with our own feeble human hands…but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God will make something beyond our wildest expectations.
Yes, these are holy grounds here at Snowmass Chapel. Sacred things happen here every day. God is with us and among us and working through us. I’ve seen some of the most moving things happen and God is absolutely reaching people here in deep and powerful ways. And we are also having so much fun. Chapelpalooza, baby!
Yesterday several staff members and I were having a conversation with our visiting preacher, Marcus, about hiking. He and his son were going to take an evening hike so everyone was chiming in with advice, most of which was intended to have a little fun at his expense: watch out for bears, we said; beware of mountain lions, we (only half) kidded. I finally chimed in that there would be no moon out and the night before had been pitch black so they might want to get down before nightfall. Immediately the entire room disagreed with me. “I couldn’t sleep last night, it was so bright!” one said, “I had to put a pillow over my head to fall asleep,” someone else complained. “It says right here on the calendar it is a full moon,” they got all nit-picky factual on me.
Yet when I went to bed the night before, my husband and I had both commented on the blackened sky. Our kids were camping so we noted they would have a particularly dark night. I had no need to pull the blinds in order to block the brightness of a moon. What was going on here?
“The storm,” they all said almost in unison. It had been storming for several hours and when I went to bed at 9:45, it was indeed dark, the moon completely obscured by the dense cloud cover. By the time those young’uns went to bed, apparently, the clouds had dissipated enough to see that the moon was there all along.
I had no choice but to accept that my friends had indeed seen and experienced the moon in all its glory.
Blessed are those who do not see, and yet believe.
It might seem like a silly example of faith — after all, we can experience the moon every single day. Even when it’s hidden from view we know it’s there. And when others tell us they saw the moon, we know this is most likely true because we have experienced it ourselves enough to believe.
Then again, we are offered a chance to experience Jesus each day, too, are we not?
How are you experiencing Jesus today? How is it changing you? I’d love to hear from you!
When are you due? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question over the past 9 months I would have amassed a small fortune by now. For the record, I’d be willing to part with this fortune if someone could accurately assist me in determining the day and time this baby will arrive!
At 38 weeks pregnant, this child is quite literally all I can think about. I feel the physical weight of my unborn with each step and movement of my body. I consider each decision I make throughout the day, from what I put in my mouth, to what activities I engage in, with the health of this little one in the back of my mind.
There are times when I feel an overwhelming sense of excitement as to what’s ahead, times when the weight of responsibility is heavy on my shoulders, and still times when I feel completely at awe as to the miracle that is taking place within my body. Generally, these feelings leave me overcome with gratitude that the Lord has blessed and entrusted my husband and me with the life of this child.
As I walked out of the Chapel last Sunday, I felt a similar mix of emotions after listening to Pastor Marcus Bieschke’s sermon. On the drive home there was a mixture of excitement in thinking about how my husband and I will be able to influence and shape the life of this child, but it was accompanied with the responsibility that comes with becoming a parent.
I am certain that I am not the first mother-to-be who has grappled with these feelings. New parents are inundated with countless decisions before their child even enters the world and even more-so after. It is easy to get caught up in researching vaccine schedules, medical interventions, parenting styles…the list goes on and on, but I have a feeling Jesus is more concerned with how we influence our children daily than whether we use cloth or disposable diapers.
I am grateful that on Sunday we were presented with a practical, God-centered approach to parenting and the family unit. I will not attempt to rewrite Marcus’ sermon, but I would encourage you to listen to it on our YouTube page if you missed it (https://youtu.be/8Mmhc9KWvuQ).
In retrospect, Marcus encouraged us to interact with our children and families in much of the same way that Jesus desires to interact with and influence us. There are distinct times when Jesus takes on the role of teacher, friend, counselor, and coach. We need Jesus’ influence in our lives in each of these areas to be healthy, well-rounded Christians who know how to navigate all of the twists and turns of life.
Which version of Jesus do you most regularly ascribe to – teacher, friend, counselor, or coach? I would like to challenge you this week to seek out Jesus in a new way. Allow Him in as a friend and counselor if you usually look to Him as a teacher. Seek out His wisdom if you usually go to Him as a counselor. I can assure you that He will meet you in this place and reveal Himself in new and exciting ways. His influence will begin to permeate your life in areas you never imagined.
While you’re at it, why not apply the same principles to your relationships with family and friends. You may be pleasantly surprised at the transformation that takes place.
Recently, I had the opportunity to go backpacking with some of the coolest high school seniors I have ever met. After some travel time getting to Yosemite National Park we began our hike in Tuolumne Meadows. Although all of us are blessed daily with experiencing God’s beautiful creation here in the Roaring Fork Valley, we were all taken aback by the serenity and beauty of this place. Lush green meadows carpeted the valley floor while snow covered ridges funneled us toward the pass we would cross the next day. I am always struck between the dichotomy between packing everything into a car and rushing to a trailhead and the peace of having nothing to do all day except hike. At first, I find myself trying to fill up or change this simplicity. It’s hard to rest in the silence when you’re so accustomed to noise. You might find me whistling, humming, or even just talking more than usual because I’m trying to fill the void. Isn’t it ironic how much we crave peace and quiet but also how it can be almost daunting once you find it? Many of the Pacific Crest Trail hikers we passed on our trip (who had already walked 900 miles by the time we were seeing them) had earbuds in and were listening to music. What is it about us that draws us outside and to the remote places where we can find solitude but also encourages us to build buffers to the very things we are looking for?
In many ways I think we do the same thing in our spiritual lives. Both silence and solitude are disciplines that are difficult to maintain in the day and age in which we live. I know I need (and even crave) daily times of solitude and prayer with my creator but at the same time I put up buffers that get in the way. Sometimes when I’m praying I find myself doing all the talking and none of the listening. Other times I schedule so much activity around this time that I don’t really have a chance to actually have a quiet time. I know that time with God is my sustenance but at the same time I often have amnesia to this fact and build walls in between Him and myself. All of this has brought me to think about Luke 6:12-19. In this passage Jesus went off (to the mountains) by himself to be with God and pray. He’s gearing up for choosing His disciples and launching into ministry with the Sermon on the Mount. The rescue mission from God to all of humanity is a “go”. I like to think He was probably pretty excited at this point but yet he turned first to prayer and time with His father. Jesus’ focus on solitude with and through prayer was extremely challenging to me. If Jesus Himself needed solitude and time set apart with God then how much more do we need those same blessings. One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, points out that Jesus was very intentional in how He moves from solitude to building the community of the disciples to His public ministry. First solitude, then community, then ministry. This is an especially important reminder for us who live fast paced time we call the 21st century. Isn’t it easy to jump directly into community and ministry? With so many buffers to solitude we need to remain intentional in how we root ourselves in prayerful time with Jesus because this is the foundation we stand on when we enter the community and minister through all our individual callings.