Thoughts from our Senior Warden
It is a real privilege and honor for me to serve CCA in the role of Senior Warden. It is challenging to condense the things I see God doing in our midst into a few points but I’ve done my best to do so.
The first thing that stands out to me where I see God doing something new is in the Youth Program. We hired John Laffoon in 2017 to be the Youth and Families Minister. He has been very intentional about the curriculum he has chosen. In it, our youth are being taught to see the Bible as One Story, God’s Story, and to understand what God has been doing from Creation to the end of time. As such they are given the opportunity to find out how their story fits into God’s story so they can participate in accomplishing His purposes for them and their generation. They are also being exposed to teaching about culture. In this they are dealing “head on” with some of the most pressing issues of our day while learning to see how God understands these issues which helps to equip them to distinguish the ways of the world vs. the ways of the Kingdom. The depth of discipleship happening with them is fantastic. It was great to have them join Adult Ed. last week where we heard from them and had a chance to connect with them and pray for them. We must remember the vulnerable time of life this is for them given all of the pressure they face. I am elated that they are being given tools to deal with the challenges they face with faith that God is with them, and for them, and has a better way.
Another highlight to me has been Adult Ed. I have appreciated the opportunity we have had to hear from one another. We have all had different experiences and it has been encouraging to hear how God has been faithful in a variety of ways. It reveals to me the work of God in our midst. Hearing someone’s story allows us the opportunity to connect with someone we might never otherwise. I think it also causes our faith to grow. If we can hear how God has moved in your life, maybe He can and will do the same in mine. Not only that, but I think there is a sense of how God can use me and my experience(s) to help someone else. In my estimation, this is one of the most “missional” type things we are doing with one another. I hope to see it continue and wonder how we might take it to the next level. I hope each of you will also consider accepting the opportunity if it comes your way. When we share our lives with one another, we learn how we can also share it with others we encounter day to day. God has a “ministry” for each of us.
The third highlight for me has been the stories of transformation I’ve heard from those that have engaged in the refugee ministry that Mary Kaech is leading or serving food at the Phoenix Rescue Mission. To me this is where the rubber meets the road. God has done and is doing some amazing work in our midst for those that have taken a step of faith to help someone else. I’ve heard stories of God breaking people’s heart for those they have been afraid of or hated. There are other stories where people have found the purpose they lacked when they started serving. Not only that but the love of God has been expressed to some who have never experienced or known that kind of love. I don’t make it a habit to use the word awesome unless it relates to God and his work but I can say wholeheartedly that this is AWESOME. It is what the Kingdom is all about.
These are 3 of the highlights for me regarding 2017. But, that said, there is one more thing that happened in 2017 that lays the ground work for some of my hopes for 2018.
I have participated in a variety of churches in the USA as well as organizations that work around the world. One thing that I’ve learned is that “to whom much is given much is required” is a very true statement. I’ve witnessed the faithfulness of God to his people, myself included, in mind-blowing ways. I have seen some use their blessings of position and resources to bless and serve others. I have also seen some keep it to themselves for fear they might lose what they have. When we celebrated our 10-year anniversary as a church and we reflected on the faithfulness of God to help us become a thriving congregation, I found myself full of anticipation for the future. God has done an amazing thing here at CCA. He has given us His favor time and time again. It is simply undeniable that He has been at work in our midst in the first ten years. But, now what? What will we celebrate on our 20th anniversary?
Why has God done this work at CCA? Is there a bigger purpose for giving us so much? I think so! Again, I am full of anticipation for our future. We have a fantastic team of clergy and staff. There are more people attending our services today than 10 years ago and we have a budget that is bigger today than 10 years ago. That’s fantastic! The question is, why has He blessed us so?
Jesus tells us to pray, “His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” But I think he also expects us to work toward that end as well. What would it look like if were to say “His Kingdom come, His will be done in CCA as it is in Heaven”? Or in Phoenix as it is in Heaven? Or in the USA? Not to mention the whole world? Or more personally, what would it look like if His Kingdom come, His will be done in Shawn, or Grant or Karalee or Jane, or __(you)___, as it is in Heaven? How would that change us? Our work? Our relationships? Our priorities? To me, this is our future – His Kingdom come, His will be done, in us and through us to a broken, confused world.
As members of God’s global body here on earth, what can we do, how can we pray, who can we serve to express His Kingdom to our world? What wrongs can we right? What rights can we encourage? What difference can we make? That’s where we can do something new! And just like we saw God’s faithfulness to establish this congregation, He will be faithful to provide all we need to make a difference in this city, country, and world. Instead of being known as Anglican or that place at the end of 20th Street, I’d love to see us be known as Kingdomizers.
I would also love to see our small groups expand so that different new groups are created and we welcome people we don’t know as well — where we don’t just serve those in our body, but those in our neighborhoods, work places, those from different ethnic groups as well. Can we envision how our small groups can be used by Him to touch those who are lonely, who need support and encouragement, who might not ever grace the doors of CCA? I believe this is one area where we can really see His Kingdom come. But this will mean laying down some of our comforts and being willing to embrace and be embraced by those who are different than us.
I am so encouraged to see God at work in our midst and I am privileged to share this journey with you. Let’s celebrate what He has done and look forward to what lies ahead with eyes of faith and hearts full of anticipation.