I’ve been pondering vision lately, and I’m not talking about my eyesight. (Although, since we’re on the subject: what the heck, reading glasses?!)
The kind of vision I’ve been pondering is the one our future holds in our mind’s eye. This kind of vision is meant to inspire us, both professionally and personally, and move us toward the way things could or should be. Vision requires a clear picture of the future rather than the status quo. It’s about God empowering us to change circumstances for the better.
Vision says, What is our reality right now, where is God calling us, and how do we make operational changes to get there?
This past year Snowmass Chapel has gotten very clear on vision. Under Pastor Robert de Wetter’s leadership, the staff, board and lay leaders have prayed, examined, discussed, debated, and drilled down into all areas of ministry. As a result, here is how Robert articulates his vision for all of us as a community of believers living out our faith in the world: Snowmass Chapel will be the most thriving, healing, advocating, affirming, mold-breaking, outward-reaching, life-changing, high impact, loving network of Jesus-followers possible.
DOESN’T THAT JUST MAKE YOU SMILE? You can read here about how Robert views each of those words, but when I read that Vision Statement, I personally see FREEDOM TO INNOVATE! The words are so intertwined – they work together beautifully: you can be thriving AND mold-breaking; advocating AND loving; affirming AND a follower of Jesus.
Robert has always fostered a spirit of innovation here – if you feel the Spirit move and have a fire in your belly to do something, Robert makes sure you have the support and resources to get ‘er done. It’s one of the things our staff loves about being on this team, and it is so REFRESHING.
So with this innovative spirit in mind, here are the top three priorities that a committee of folks at the Chapel has come up with to operationalize the vision – that is, to create action steps that will change lives and build up the kingdom while keeping the vision in mind:
- Connecting: If we want to help people connect to God by coming to worship, engaging in a spiritual life, and truly know what it means to be part of a loving network of Jesus-followers, then we need to intentionally live the gospel wherever we go. How many sermons have really changed your lives? (Come on, really….). But how many PEOPLE have impacted you in ways you will never forget? That is connection, and it makes all the difference. So let’s make it obvious and easy: Welcome newcomers with gentleness and joy. Be hospitable to everyone, not just the ones who look and act like you. Create meaningful, fun programs and activities that help people. Offer a cup of coffee and a smile.
- Deepening: In addition to easy connections, people want deep and meaningful relationships. With God and with each other. Workshops, small groups, mentoring, baptism classes, bible study – it all matters – and every bit of it will strengthen your relationships with God and with one another so that you can heal, find joy and thrive.
- Communication: If we want people to be changed by what God is calling us to do, then we can’t sit in the building simply hoping they will come. We’re all about letting people know where we are, but also meeting them where they are. We value our partnerships in the community which allow us to advocate and affirm the most vulnerable, and we believe this make a difference in the world. We want Snowmass Chapel to be known by the love of its people in the world.
So how does all this “dreaming” become a reality? To a large part, and thanks to you, it already is. Our dream –our aim — is that everyone who is part of the Chapel intentionally acts on the vision in meaningful ways. Your greeting, teaching, leading, offering, serving, smiling – through each of these you represent the Chapel both here and “out there,” and more importantly you are allowing others to see the love of God played out in you. It’s win-win. Just think of what we can do together!
I just came back from vacation, and I thought I would share something that I learned while soaking in the clothing optional hot springs. When people first showed up in the luxuriantly warm and healing waters, they entered as individuals or in small groups and then they would proceed to remain so. I wondered if they really wanted to be alone, so I started approaching people and asking them a few questions to “break the ice.” Before long, I got to know a few names and details and I started introducing people to each other. Next thing I knew, people were making new friends and chatting sociably with people who had been previously total strangers.
After a while, I came to the conclusion that these people didn’t *really* want to be alone. They *wanted* to get to know each other, but for one reason or another, they couldn’t break through the invisible wall separating them from the delightfully interesting people who were all around them. They needed somebody to give them permission to speak to each other. Maybe I learned this lesson from my dad, who became friends with waiters and grocery check-out clerks everywhere we went.
Certainly, Jesus was a Master at asking questions. His questions were probing and insightful, and he often offered questions in response to questions that were asked of him. John 21:23-27 is a really fun example of Jesus answering a question with a question.
Back to the hot springs… I began to work on developing some good questions. Most people don’t mind being asked where they are from and what they do. John Goss is a delightful entertainer, and I’ve heard him ask an audience member, “I know it’s not polite to ask a woman her age, so…. How much do you weigh?” I always like to see if I can get people talking about deeper and more interesting things, so I would ask, “Have you ever read a book that changed your life?” One woman said that she was writing a book of wise advice for her niece and she asked me if I had anything to contribute. I thought that was a wonderful question, because it made me think if there was anything I had learned in my life that would be worth passing along to this woman’s niece.
One thing I love about Snowmass Chapel’s website is that it is designed for conversation. We start the conversation, but then you continue the conversation with your comments. So I think it would be really fun to hear about your favorite questions – both the ones you like to ask and the questions others have asked you. I can’t wait to read your best ideas!
Our home TV has been down off the wall as we’ve been doing some painting and things around the house. This week it was hung back up. We got it all plugged in and the cables hooked together, but the screen just flashed, “Connection Error.” My husband, Adam, (your handsome, bearded, weekly Sunday morning sound technician) jiggled some wires, reworked a few things, and tried again. Still, the handy dandy diagnostic on the screen let us know what our problem was… “Connection Error.”
Adam called the cable company. They asked him some questions, worked through our issues (the TV ones at least), and when he hung up the phone our TV was back up and running with a simple modem reset. We were connected!
If only it were that easy for people. Jiggle a few wires, rework a few things, make a phone call, and wa-la: connection.
Or maybe it is that easy for people?
I have been giving quite a bit of brain and prayer power toward visioning for the future of the Children, Youth and Families department of Snowmass Chapel. My vision keeps coming back to one thing. What I want more than anything for our Chapel kids and parents and heck, really everyone in the whole world, is a life full of DEEP AND MEANINGFUL CONNECTION. I want our people to be totally plugged into the power source – Jesus – without any outages or connection errors, and then I want our people to be totally plugged into one another. I want connection.
Last week my four year old son was trying to understand the concept of what is living and what is not living. He started asking questions.
“Are the trees living, momma?”
“Are the rocks living, momma?”
“Is our house living, momma?”
“Is our church living, momma?”
Yes, little Zig-man, our church is living! Our church is not a building but a group of people who love God and WHO LOVE YOU. Our church is alive. Our church is connected.
I think we are most successful teaching kids about God’s magnificent love for them by allowing them to feel and experience the church’s magnificent love for them. Our kids need belonging. Our kids need connection. We all do. “Church,” and I’m talking ’bout the people, not the building, provide just that.
As I plan for the future of our youth department at Snowmass Chapel, I will continue to program things like the hut trip, family church, Lake Powell, VBS, and Smashbox because these are the types of things that jiggle the wires, reset the modem, and deepen CONNECTION.
I laugh as I type this and my computer goes haywire. The internet is down (“not connected”), but it’s “connecting in 1 second” and also gives me the option to “try now.” I hope we all choose to “try now” too. 😉
Stay plugged in friends.
With the massive snowpack and predicted runoff, we might just be able to have campfires this summer. Whether or not you are a camper, many of us have memories of sitting around a fire talking with friends and family, looking up at the stars, and perhaps even roasting marshmallows. Whether lightly toasted or fully roasted, they certainly are a tasty treat.
In the 1960’s, a Stanford University professor conducted experiments which explored how long children could delay gratification with marshmallows. Basically, children were put in a room with a marshmallow. They were told they could eat the marshmallow immediately or, if they waited 15 minutes, they would be given two marshmallows. Some kids waited, others satisfied their marshmallow cravings immediately.
I am not sure how I would do as a child were this experiment conducted now in 2019. After years of being surrounded by technology in which everything is instantaneous, I’m afraid I might be the kid that eats the one marshmallow instead of waiting 15 minutes for two.
The other day I had to make a trip to Denver on I-70. Little did I know the highway would close in the midst of the drive for a few hours. Regina and two of our children were with me. At first I was frustrated, tried to connect to the Colorado road condition website on my phone, and allowed my mind to be filled with thoughts that were anything but peace inducing. Fortunately, after a bit of time, my focus shifted to my family in the car and we talked. Too bad that had not been my first reaction to the traffic stoppage.
Interruptions, delays, lines, wait times, learning to be patient, and letting go of the need to have everything on demand can be an incredible gift. For it is in such places, I believe, we not only have the space to connect with those around us and ourselves in a meaningful way, but we also have the chance to encounter God. All relationships demand something our instantaneously gratifying world cannot provide, and that is space for things to graciously unfold and time.
I pray we each will learn to see moments in which we do not have control over timing to be gifts we can choose to embrace or not.
I got my first bike when I seven. It was a green Schwinn with silver baskets over the back tire and a bell on the front handlebar. I had to stand up when I rode it because I couldn’t yet reach the pedals but my parents assured me I would grow into it, and I guess to prove that I could ride it despite its size, we immediately ventured out on a 13-mile ride over shoulderless backcountry roads in the July heat to the next town over. Happy Birthday!
My next bike was purchased in middle school with my own hard-earned babysitting money. A blue Nishiki road bike with curled drop handlebars (so grown-up!). I loved that bike and rode it until someone cut through the lock as it sat perched outside my dorm the first week of college. It would take me years to replace it.
My husband, Tim, and I moved to Aspen the week we got married so for a wedding present, he got us matching Specialized mountain bikes. We were so cool. Our 21 year-old daughter now uses mine as a “townie” and I made her promise to love it like I do.
In my 30’s I bought a Broncos-orange Trek road bike and did my first – and only — triathlon with it. I got a speedometer and got “fitted” at a shop in Montana because that’s a thing people do when they are super serious road bike athletes like I am.
Then a few years ago a little thing called full suspension rocked my world and brought me back to the joy of mountain biking; I can still hear my own laughter echoing off the red sandstone walls around Moab as I bounced around the trails on my new wheels.
Looking back on it, I realize that some of my favorite most joy-filled times have been on a bike. I can think of dozens and dozens and dozens of these moments – from childhood rides to the ice cream store to the little thrill at catching air as I hop over the teensiest baby jump on a single-track dirt trail. There is just something about cruising on a bike with the wind in my face, and the right amount of speed (not too much, thank you) to feel like I’m flying, knowing all the hard climbs are behind me, that makes me feel such JOY.
So, let me introduce you to my new bike: SHE’S THE CUTEST THING EVER. Sassy like a little VW Bug. Classy like an old Aston Martin convertible. She’s a Scandinavian-designed “city bike” which just sounds adorable doesn’t it? And the best part: she’s electric, with a boost like the after-burner on an F16. I commute back and forth to work, to the park, to the gym. And you guys – I GO SO FAST. If you see a blur go by as you drive around Snowmass Village: it’s me! As I pedal up the hillsides, I wave to all the construction crews and the mamas pushing their strollers, like, “Don’t mind me while I just bike up this mountain WITHOUT BREAKING A SWEAT.” I’m in love.
Everywhere I go people want to test my e-bike out and not one person can ride it without shrieking like a seven-year-old girl when the boost kicks in. They all come back with huge smiles on their faces and I get the reward of knowing my bike left them all a little happier.
Here’s the thing about riding a bicycle. Never do you feel more in the moment than when you’re in the saddle. Riding a bike is equal parts attentiveness and unfettered joy. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are capable of being present to joy and practicing it! The more you have the more you get.
The book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament encourages us all in our joy: “I commend the enjoyment of life because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil…” Basically, God loves you and wants you to be happy, the end.
Author Will Bowen, who started a movement called “A Complaint-Free World,” writes that our perspective is a delusion, “so choose the delusion that brings you the only thing that matters – choose to be happy.” And it’s a lot easier to choose happiness when you cultivate experiences that bring you joy, so that in your moments of hard work and challenge you remember how awesome life is.
With enough practice, happiness will be as easy as riding a bike.
As a human being, knowing what your life is about and what your goals are is fundamental for success, as defined in a broad spectrum of ways. The same of course can be said for any organization, including communities of faith.
At the Chapel, as many of you have heard repeatedly, we take Jesus’ great commandment seriously. Jesus said loving God and loving others is at the core of what it means to be a Christian. In fact he said love is central to what it means to follow him. Inherent in all of this is the necessity of learning to love ourselves as God does.
The fundamental purpose, or mission of the Chapel, is to love God, love people and to love ourselves. Matthew 22:34-40.
Related to our purpose is our vision, or what our goals are and where we are headed. Through a lot of work with many people, including our Board, we have a new vision statement for the Chapel. It is as follows.
To be the most thriving, healing, advocating, affirming, mold-breaking, outward-reaching, worshipping, life-changing, high impact, loving network of Jesus followers possible.
To help flesh this out, here is a brief breakdown of what is meant by each word.
Thriving. Full of Spirit-filled energy, a community growing in all ways. Think of a plant bursting through the soil into a robust life.
Healing. Healing is embraced and the norm at Snowmass Chapel, not an exception, and certainly nothing that warrants shame. We ensure there are programs, people, and practices in place to help those who need healing in mind, body, and spirit.
Advocating. We advocate for the resolution of tough issues facing this valley and beyond. Advocacy is one of the means through which we demonstrate God’s love in action.
Affirming. Every person. Always. For who God made them to be. Discrimination is not consistent with the core of the Gospel, which is love.
Mold-breaking. We try new things and do old things in new ways. Change is continual and if we want to be faithful to our mission, we must continue to evolve.
Outward-reaching. We are hopeful Easter people taking action in a world that sometimes feels like the hopelessness of Good Friday.
Worshipping. We live each day with loving intention and a focus upon Christ. We gather as a community of faith to worship God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. We put Christ first.
Life-changing/High-impact. Through our relationship with Christ and friendships in our community, all people at the Chapel will understand and be transformed by God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.
Loving network of Jesus followers possible. As people of the Chapel, our lives are interconnected, a network. We are not bricks and mortar, we are people in relationship with each other. It is Jesus we follow, Jesus’ love we act upon, and we seek to achieve our vision to the greatest extent possible.
Over the months ahead, we will continue to speak of our mission and vision and how to put it all into action in a variety of settings through varied means. We are planning steps we will take to act on our mission and vision.
One immediate step we are taking this summer is to start small groups, the goal of which is to deepen our relationships with Christ and with each other. Small groups will meet 2-3 times per year for six weeks and we hope you will take part in a group to help us extend that vision!
We invite each of you to join us in praying for the Chapel: that we will continue to be led by Christ, and that we will be faithful in striving to meet our mission and vision. We are so blessed that you are part of what we call “Snowmass Chapel.”
Happy Mother’s Day:
I thank God for mothers past and present this day and not only this day, but each and every day.
With few exceptions, most mothers I have known in life are incredibly committed to the health, joy, and growth of their children. And most mothers I know struggle with feelings of inadequacy in raising their children. My hunch is that most moms do a much better job mothering than they give themselves credit for. So as we celebrate Mother’s Day later this week, I’d like to remind mothers everywhere just how wonderful they are and to thank them.
Having lost my mom last year, I also want to acknowledge that for those of of missing our mom’s, Mother’s Day can feel especially poignant and I pray for all of us who feel the absence of our moms.
I have shared the following prayer before, but I find it to be powerful. I invite you to join me in praying this prayer this week.
God our Creator, we pray:
for new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibility;
for expectant mothers, wondering and waiting;
for those who are tired, stressed or depressed;
for those who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family;
for those who are unable to feed their children due to poverty;
for those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities;
for those who have children they do not want;
for those who raise children on their own;
for those who have lost a child;
for those who care for the children of others;
for those whose children have left home;
and for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.
Bless all mothers, that their love may be deep and tender,
and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good,
living not for themselves alone, but for God and for others.
First, I want to thank the entire Chapel family for being my family for the last four years. I’ve met many people who have moved to the valley (and elsewhere) who describe a period of time where they felt out of place or simply just “new”. This wasn’t the case for Jayla and I in Snowmass Village. From the minute we pulled up to the fire station and struggled to find this elusive “bridge” that we would cross so many times in the coming years, we felt like family. You all invited us to dinner, gave us furniture, and welcomed us into your lives. Sharing life with you has taught me many lessons and I think this was the first one: when Jayla and I stumbled into Snowmass Village you all choose to love us and welcome us before you even knew us. The more I have listened to Robert and Charla preach and the more I have watched you all care for one another the more I have come to feel and know that this is the way that Jesus loves us. He loves before we know Him. He loves before we settle in His community. He loves us first without conditions and without the pretext of reciprocity. I believe this is where we build community. When we welcome, love, and care for people before we know if they are going to welcome, love and care for us (haha, or before we know if they are a local or a visitor!). Thank you for teaching me about community by letting us be in your community.
I had been in Snowmass Village a couple days before I heard of the infamous 8th grade outdoor ed trip. This rite of passage is a backpacking trip leading from many trailheads on this side of the Elk Range to a sacred piece of land close to Marble. Now, I mentioned that I heard of 8th grade ODE but that doesn’t quite explain it. As my new friends were explaining what the trip entailed I was also being asked to join as a chaperone. I remember thinking to myself, “Is this some sort of joke— I mean really, what kind of community has a public school that takes a week off every year to turn itself into a outdoor education guide service?” As you well know, I had a lot to learn about how special this community really is. As I was struggling up West Maroon Pass with all my new young friends I remember witnessing the incredible magnitude that is the Colorado backcountry. You all know what I’m talking about… that moment where the beauty around is so new and so stunning that you at once feel incredibly small but somehow not so small because you are connected to something so big. I at once felt fairly weak and insignificant but also so good because in some way I was related to that hugeness we all call “the view”. The views, whether from the top of the Elk Camp lift in Snowmass, or from the back porch of the Chapel during the balloon festival have become a regular and needed reminder of my place alongside God. Alone, I am nothing special. I’m not as smart as the kids who rock Aspen High School (every single one of you amazes me…). I’m not as good a skiier as any middle schooler I’ve taken out on the hill. And many of the 90 year old people in this town would beat me to the top of any hill on a bike. However, when I stop long enough to view my significance through the lens as someone who is related to the same guy who built everything that is wonderful I feel pretty good about my place in this world. We are all Children of the King and His Kingdom is wonderful. Thank you for helping me learn that my true value comes more from who I am and who cares for me, than what I do well on my own.
I consider you all family. Thank you for all the ways that you have supported and loved Jayla and I. We will miss you. Until next time!
Whether it is the loss of a life long partner, the despair of a teenage child, the anxiety of tenuous employment, loneliness or simply the pressures of day to day living, the chances and changes of living challenge us all.
It is my prayer that we will be sustained and encouraged by Easter.
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 28 we find, “After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look in the tomb…an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow…The angel spoke to the women. ‘You must not be afraid,’ he said. ‘I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has been raised…’”
The words, “he has been raised,” are, perhaps, the greatest words in Scripture, for it is through these words that we learn God has power over everything, even death itself.
If God can transform death into eternal life, then there is nothing on this earth which God cannot overcome and transform in our lives. When the angel of the Lord rolled back the stone that first Easter morning, despair was transformed into hope and doubt into trust.
It is my prayer that we will each receive the gift of trust and hope this Easter. Trust that God is in charge regardless of how outward circumstances appear and hope that God can mold any situation into His purposes for our lives.
The fundamental reason I get up every morning is Easter and it is through Easter that you and I can be assured that God is in charge of everything, no matter what. Fear not, my friends, for He has been raised. Happy Easter!
Perhaps you will think that I have lost my ever-loving mind when I tell you that I tend to believe that I will be more connected to other people if I can demonstrate my perfection. My fashionable clothes, my picture-ready hair, my sculpted body, my fancy home and car, my carefully practiced music, etc. I am convinced that people will especially want to be my friend when they hear my flawlessly reasoned arguments – about how I am right and wise and everybody else is wrong and short-sighted. My life and I in it are the absolute pink of perfection – don’t you want to be around me and be my friend? (I can already sense your sympathy for my husband!)
It must be some kind of insanity that moves me to such thoughts, because nobody is looking for a friend who outshines them at all times and in all ways. I remember looking at one of my friends in junior high and wondering why he was so popular when he never combed his hair. Please keep in mind that this was in the 80’s when nobody left home without big hair-do’s requiring every hair to be meticulously arranged and held in place with clouds of ozone-depleting hairspray! I think that this was the beginning of an epiphany for me.
You may know or remember Daniel Barnes who ran our sound prior to Adam Gilbert. Daniel is now in college, and one of his professors gave him an assignment to get the answers to a series of questions without looking them up online and without other people looking up the answers for him. So he asked his friends for help. Before long, he had long-lost relatives knocking on doors of previously unknown neighbors in order to find answers to bizarre, obscure questions for Daniel’s professor. He got the answers he needed, but more importantly, he got an answer that he wasn’t seeking. He may have believed that knowing things is powerful, but what he learned is that not knowing things is also powerful. It led to new friendships and stronger bonds. I’ve never met this professor, but I think I want to sit at her/his feet and learn.
Then there are those moments when we watch a performer, and they forget the words to their song, or an athlete who falls, or an actor whose prop fails. Suddenly everybody is pulling for them and feeling empathy for them. Nobody wants to screw up in front of other people, but sometimes those moments are the ones we remember the best and that teach us the most.
So here is the big reveal. I have come to suspect that we don’t connect when we compete for flawless perfection. In fact, sometimes I think it is exactly this drive for perfection that separates us. We connect over our shortcomings, weaknesses, and brokenness. We bond through our authenticity and vulnerability. The most ego-driven people are not usually the most lovable, but rather, the ones who can admit that they were wrong. Why is connection important? Because I believe that when we connect with people in deep and meaningful ways, we come to love them. When we love people, we are more likely to treat them as Jesus taught us. Maybe for Lent I will try giving up some ego?