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Collin's Columns: Redemption in Our Mess

March 25, 2021

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

This week in worship is one of my very favorite Sundays.  It is Palm Sunday!  Of course, I really enjoy Christmas Eve, and I thoroughly enjoy Easter Sunday but there is something about Palm Sunday that always speaks to me.  I feel as though I understand the goings-on.  I can picture the Palm Sunday parade and the crowd shouting, “Hosanna!  Hosanna in the highest!”  Would some of them have been a bit perplexed that Jesus was on the back of a lowly donkey rather than a stately horse?  Maybe, but most of them would have been so swept up in the energy and emotion of the moment that I’ll bet many of the people didn’t even notice what type of animal Jesus rode.  And why should it matter?  The Messiah was FINALLY marching into Jerusalem!  Many Jewish people, that lived when Jesus did, thought the Messiah would be a strong, military leader.  One that might overthrow the Roman overlords with an epic battle for the ages.  Many of Jesus’ followers, including some in his inner ring of friends, were looking for Jesus to be a leader like King David.  After all, the Gospel of Matthew goes out of its way to clearly illustrate to the reader that Jesus was even related to David.  When King David ruled, they sang a song about him.  It went, “Saul has killed his thousands.  David his tens of thousands.”  They celebrated David because of his significant military victories over Israel’s enemies, and they were pleased to put those enemies to death.

Yes, the Palm Sunday crowd would have been a raucous affair.  But Jesus rode into town NOT as a conquering military leader and future corporeal king.  Rather, he rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey teaching the same things to the people of Jerusalem that he had been teaching for the entirety of his ministry – humility, service to others, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  But that is not what the people wanted.  And those very same crowds that triumphantly welcomed him into the city with shouts of, “Hosanna!” would feel so betrayed by the way Jesus conducted himself that they would change their shouts to, “Crucify him!” 

It was a real mess.  A mess that Jesus went into with eyes wide open, and a mess that he cleaned up for each and every one of us.

I hope to see you in the MESSY place this Sunday.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Collin

 

March 11, 2021

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 

This Sunday in worship, we will be observing the 4th Sunday in Lent!  That means, there are only a few Sundays left until Easter.  Don’t forget that we will be returning to in-person worship that day!  I hope you’ll make plans to join us.  However, in case you don’t yet feel comfortable attending worship in person, we will still be offering an online worship service each Sunday for at least the remainder of the year, and likely beyond.  As a reminder, we will be offering three worship services on Easter Sunday.  One at 7 AM which will be a short sunrise service, and then two traditional services at 9 AM and 11 AM. 
 
For the time being, worship will look a little different in that we will not be passing the offering plate around, we will not have bulletins, and there will be no attendance registration pads.  To give your tithe or offering, you’ll need to give online or drop it in the offering plate that we’ll have in the narthex on your way into worship, or on the way to your car.  To get an order of worship and to register your attendance, you’ll need to be able to scan a QR code that will be posted on the pews or on the screen.  Of course, masks and social distancing will be required, too.  All that to say, in-person worship will look and feel very different than it has in the recent past, but we’ll still be together and we’ll still be praising God.
 
Finally, in order to attend Easter worship, you must register first.  We will be sending out the reservation link on Thursday, March 18 in Grace Notes, as well as posting it on www.graceintheheights.org/register at 5:45 p.m. This will allow you time to make a plan you are comfortable with for Easter worship.  We’ll only be allowing 50 people in the sanctuary at the 9 AM and 11 AM service.  There will be a few extra seats in the narthex and standing-room-only outside where we will have a speaker set up.  If you don’t register to attend worship, you’ll be asked to wait until the service has begun.  If there are seats available, you can then come into the sanctuary to participate in the in-person service.  On a normal Easter Sunday, we have over 300 people in attendance but I honestly have no idea what to expect this year.  We’ll just have to play it by ear and do our best to pivot. 
 
If our post-Easter worship attendance is consistently over 50 people and we are consistently turning people away (which I absolutely loathe even considering, but cannot currently see another way to safely worship in person), we’ll examine our worship schedule to see about possibly add a permanent second service.  But, for the time being, the ONLY Sunday on which we will offer more than one worship service is Easter Sunday. 
 
While I cannot wait to lead in-person worship again, I am so thankful to all our staff who has worked tirelessly to make sure that we still have a high-quality worship service to offer to you, the congregation, and most importantly, to God.
 
See you this Sunday in worship in the GOD FORMS US place.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin

 

March 4, 2021

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 

Can you believe that this Sunday is the third Sunday in Lent? This year seems to be flying by! If you’ll remember, we’re using Lent this year to examine the relationship between us and God. In order to really fulfill the call God has placed on our lives to make Disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to first acknowledge that we are sinful people. So, we’ve also been using this time to examine our relationship to sin and our reliance on God’s grace. Last Sunday, we talked about a specific part of God’s grace called prevenient grace. This week, we’ll continue the conversation about sin and our reliance on grace, but talk about a part of grace that actually requires action on our part. I hope you can join us!

 

Additionally, I want to invite you to a church workday on March 13th. The freeze took a toll on the landscaping at the church and the grounds now need some attention. Join us from 9 a.m. – noon on Saturday, March 13th. Bring rakes, clippers, trash bags, mowers, gloves, and other yard equipment to help clean up the campus! We’ll have another date later this month to try and do some mulching and planting ahead of our Easter Sunday return to in-person worship. Thanks in advance to our Boy Scout Troop who will be present that day to help!

See you this Sunday in the GRACE FILLED place!

 

In Christ,
Collin

 

February 25, 2021

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Lent.  And we began that important season with a new sermon series entitled, “Finding Redemption in our Mess.”  And in worship we talked about how messy Houston was during the power and water outages following Winter Storm Uri.  This week, we’re going to dive a little deeper and talk how we got into this mess.  That is to say, we’re going to be talking about the human condition and how we often find ourselves committing sinful acts.  Why is that?  Is the human condition a naturally sinful one?  Or put another way, who left us in this mess? 

 

You know, at my home, we have an entire room for the kids devoted exclusively to play.  We think that playing is important to their childhood and to their development.  But the playroom is often messy.  Mostly that’s because, after a long day at work, Abby and I usually don’t have the energy to make our kiddos clean up the mess.  But when we do make the effort to straighten the playroom, it is sometimes a real struggle.  And often one child or another, after being asked to pick up a certain item will say, “I didn’t get that out!” or, “That’s not mine!”  Does that sound familiar?  It is natural for all of us to want to be responsible only for ourselves.  Usually, we don’t want to clean up someone else’s mess!  But as we’ll discuss this Sunday, even though the sinful mess we sometimes find ourselves in may or may not be of our own doing, we are all responsible for seeking God’s freely given forgiveness.

 

I’m looking forward to this week’s service of worship, and I can’t wait to gather together in person on Easter Sunday!

See you in the GOD IS GOOD place!

 

In Christ,
Collin

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Houston, TX 77008
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