The following is a reflection submitted by Julie Diercks based on her time in ministry at First Covenant. As of June, Julie's position will have come to an end but we rejoice that we get to keep her around in the coming year as she continues to live and work in Anchorage and is a part of our church community. Thank you Julie for all you've given in Christ's name to serve our church and our youth.
Three years ago I was invited into something. I was invited into a group of people who wanted me to be a part of their family. Their community. Their Church.
And in these last three years, I have been reminded time and time again, that I am a part of something. Something old. Something new. Something...together.
First Covenant Church has shown me generosity, hospitality, love, and grace. They have shared their kids with me and entrusted them to me, as I entrust them to God. They have shared their resources with me. They have built me rooms in their basements and literally “welcomed me into their family.” They have given me a couch. They have invited me to be their neighbors. They have allowed me to preach and paint the Jr. High youth room orange. They have prayed for me. They have encouraged me in so many ways that I cannot even list them all.
An image that depicts how a church should work is a group of gears in a clock or other mechanical device. When one moves, it empowers the other to move, which empowers the other to move and in that forward motion, are all moving. All the parts move together to make sure that the clock or mechanical device is functioning the way it was intended to function. And we are not solitary moving gears. A gear can move by itself, but what would benefit from that? We move, not just to move, but to move others.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Hebrews10:24
At First Covenant, I have seen many “gears” move together. Some gears keep the building running smoothly, repairing appliances and mechanical problems. Other gears build things for the church. Other gears use their resources and gift the church with things for the church to use. Other gears share their time with the Whole and spend a Sunday morning in the nursery, Sunday School or Kids Time. Other gears use their creativity and make beautiful banners that draw us into worship. Other gears use their musical talent to lead the worship team on Sunday mornings. Other gears show their love for relationships and teaching by leading a small group. Other gears share their home and practice hospitality on a regular basis. It is the reason why I love potlucks so much. It represents the different elements and gifts people bring to benefit the Whole.
These gears move to move others.
In the past 3 years, I have been moved by these gears. I have been moved in generosity, hospitality, love and grace. And I hope that my forward motion will “spur” others on, move others on, towards these things as well. And that together, we will represent the Church, and all that it was intended to be.
Here is a blog entry written by Amy Kimble, our CYAK youth leader, written from her blog in November 2011. It's a good testament to God's provision and the faith we can have in his goodness. Enjoy!
Last week I took a walk with my mother-in-law, Helen, on a beach in Rhode Island. This beach is her favorite spot to take us when we come home, and she's made a point to bring all three of us (Jordan, his brother Chris, and me) to this place this year.
Helen and I talked a lot on this beach, as well as took over 400 pictures. I should mention she loves to capture all of us on film, too :) She asked me about everything: our new life in Alaska, new friends, new job, and grad school. I shared with her how peaceful I feel about living up here and how much God has blessed Jordan and I since we moved. Although it has been such an emotional year, looking back, I definitely see God's provision through and through. I shared about how much my trust in God has grown this year as I've left a job, moved across the country, and started a new job that doesn't pay until I fund-raise. In every aspect, God has placed me in situations where I am left with no choice but to trust Him with the next step.
As we were walking back, I started opening up about how sometimes I feel pressure from outside sources to get a teaching job, to earn a retirement, to start "thinking about the future". I feel inward pressure that I'm not doing the right thing because I am not earning any money, and yet I want to go to grad school debt and loan free. I sometimes feel guilt in my gut that I am not contributing to our marriage financially, and I should be. I'm sure some of you have had these feelings before, as they are valid to the world we live in today.
But if I am truly going to claim I am a Christian and minister to people, I need to ignore all doubt and guilt in my life. They are not from God, they are from Satan. Point blank. So as we're walking I share with her how I am just trusting that God is going to provide for my future. That He is leading me to places that are good and fruitful, not harmful. He is opening my doors, as I ask Him to, and He walks beside me as I go through them. I have no reason to doubt that fundraising support will come in, that people are praying about CYAK right now and deciding whether or not they want to give, that tuition is going to be taken care of, and some day, so will my retirement. I just have. to. trust.
And then Helen and I look down in the sand... and there is a quarter. Not a shiny quarter. A quarter that has clearly been soaking in the salty ocean and washed ashore. I pick it up, thinking, "huh, that's unusual" but not really anything more. Until about 20 feet later we find another quarter.... and then a dime. "What is going on?!" we say to each other. Helen grabs my arm and tells me we have to stop and pray right now. That God is showing us something and we need to pray for God to open our eyes and hearts to whatever it is He has in store for us. She prayed for prosperity, that God would bless us, that we would be faithful and trust. After she finished praying we continued our walk and found two more quarters.
Friends, let me be so bold as to say that I do believe God was with us on that beach last Monday and He was listening to our hearts and showing us how much He loves us. I know that $1.10 we found that day will multiply beyond imagination in my lifetime. And I am so joyful that He is walking beside me today, tomorrow, and every day. And He can walk beside you, too. You just have to invite Him.
If you'd like to write something for this blog, please contact Phil Cannon or comment below and we'd be thrilled to include it!
I thought I'd share this video that I came across 2-3 years ago. I think I first saw it at the Covenant MidWinter Conference. I've used it in several venues and maybe you've seen it before. It's 20 minutes long, so I'd advise you don't watch it unless you have the time, but I think that it has been an extremely helpful tool for me in reflecting on what kind of community I believe God calls us to be. In it I see grace, redemption, healing, hospitality, and more. It's what I have hoped our youth groups would be and it's what I hope our church can be as well. I won't say much more and will let you interact with it for yourself and I'd LOVE to hear what your thoughts are in the comments section.
We hope we'll have many contributors from our congregation. I imagine we will have regular and occasional contributors. If you'd like to contribute a poem, a photo, a devotion or anything that you believe enhances our life together, please contact Pastor Criss to learn about posting.