"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
I love summer! I love spending more time outdoors than in. I love getting all sweaty hiking or running or working in the yard, and then jumping into a cool shower or a refreshingly cold lake. I love summer deluges of rain and thunderstorms followed by cool nights. I love sleeping under a single sheet with no blankets and waking to the early morning sun.
I don’t know about you, but I may have to be dragged kicking and creaming into my fall clothes. You may have to tap me on the shoulder and invite me out of my summer daydreams to join you in the realities of fall.
But what great activities we have in store for you this fall…
Day of Service On Saturday, September 6, we head into our fall season with a day at the Federal Way Farmer’s Market. We will be handing out water bottles with the Calvary logo on them, inviting families to join us for worship and learning, and providing school supplies and comfort kits to kids for school. The band will play, puppets will be performing, and your hospitality and support will make it a great day.
Coming Attractions Let the forums begin! On September 7, leaders from the congregation will give you a preview of upcoming events for the fall—namely, stewardship and the annual financial plan for 2015, the beginnings of a capital campaign, and our 60th Anniversary celebrations. Come learn more about Calvary’s mission and vision.
Creating Welcome On September 14, we begin a series on how to be more intentional about
welcoming newcomers: “Creating Welcome” is the theme for this three-week forum series. We will talk, walk through practical exercises to raise our awareness of how to welcome, and hear from a panel of people who have experienced welcome here at Calvary.
Love and Marriage Dovetailing on our “Welcome” series, we will be discussing Marriage in the October Adult Forum. The Marriage Policy Task Force, which convened last spring to facilitate conversations within the congregation about Calvary’s marriage policy, will help us begin to make sense of what it means to be a Lutheran congregation in a state in which same-sex marriage is legal. Currently, our congregation has no set policy about gay marriage. Our special guest for this conversation will be Bishop Rick Jaech, who will join us to preach, and will lead the October 19 Forum.
And the Band Plays On Our own Tony Willing and his Portage Fill Big Band will headline Calvary’s Anniversary Outreach Fundraiser for Reach Out on Saturday, October 25. We are inviting friends and members of the Federal Way community to join us in raising funds to benefit our winter homeless shelters and celebrate our 60th Anniversary with a lot of big band music and swing dancing. (Oh, come on, you know you want to!) Save some room and collect your pennies, because the Dessert Auction that night will feature delicious, sometimes-sophisticated creations by our own members, friends, and a few local businesses. Yum! So invite friends; ask people you work with or work out with; heck, welcome some strangers—and join us for this celebration. Can’t wait to get my swing on!
Okay, maybe fall will be easier to adjust to than I’d anticipated. I’m getting excited already. (But now that I’m done writing this article, it’s time to dream of white sand beaches and tropical fish for a few more days…)
Looking forward to getting back in season with you.
Your sister in Christ,
Rev. Lori A. Cornell
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37-38
We are blessed that we belong to a community and a fellowship of believers who can freely join together on Sunday mornings to praise God and to hear the promise of salvation proclaimed to us in Word and sacrament. But what about those people who have never darkened our door? How do we share the life-changing message of hope and peace that we have come to know so well? What if I don’t feel comfortable talking about my faith?
I have heard someone recently describe the act of public witness as one of becoming a “Gospel Ninja.” Think about it, ninjas blend in to their surroundings. They don’t draw undue attention to themselves because they have a mission to complete. They train themselves to be ready for any situation. They are able to slip in and out without anyone noticing. Yet they leave an indelible impression with their presence and their actions.
Imagine if we took this mentality into our public ministry. Blending in with the people we live and work beside, we would stealthily offer kindness and patience to those we encounter; providing a listening ear to the person sitting next to us on the bus; giving a little more generous tip to the
harried server at the busy restaurant; offering to pray for an acquaintance or even a stranger who shares a fear or concern with us.
We don’t have to stand on the street corner with a bullhorn or picket signs that proclaim our faith. We can quietly and powerfully witness to our community and our families by being people who live out what we talk about in church on Sunday mornings. The power of the gospel is most evident when it is transformed from empty words into tangible actions.
It’s harvest time. There are plenty of people in Federal Way and Western Washington who are in need of some good news.
Go and Make Disciples
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 20:19)
Go and make disciples? Let’s face it, evangelism is scary. Most people would rather visit the dentist for a root canal rather than ask their neighbor to visit their church. It is frightening to think about exposing ourselves to ridicule and derision if we should happen to invite someone to join us at church and they are offended. With the negative (and sometimes deservedly so) press that Christians receive, it is no wonder that we can feel stereotyped as judgmental, close-minded, and a group of people who frown at any fun. We are viewed as a place with lots of rules and lots of things we tell people not to do.
With these kinds of perceptions about Christians why then should we even try? Should we just be content with the numbers of people who worship with us on Sunday morning and hope that people are desperate enough for a relationship with Christ that they will wander through our doors? This is clearly not a biblical position to take since we are commissioned by Jesus to go in to the world and make disciples. We don’t need to stand on the street corner with a bible and a bullhorn shouting at passersby. But we do need to feel the urgency of sharing the good news.
The Great Commission to go and make disciples is much more effective when the Great Commandment is also included with it. Love of God and love of neighbor should always be included in any evangelism we do. Evangelism is about relationship. God wanted renewed relationship with the whole world, and He sent His son Jesus so that we could experience true relationship and true love. Think about what first drew you to Calvary. It may have been the preaching and the music that attracted you, but it was the relationships that made you stick around.
Our congregation is by no means an exclusive club. As a matter of fact we have no limits on the number of members we would like to have join us in relationship with God and one another. We have an obligation to our friends and family to be sure that they hear the message of life contained in the gospel. But we have to invite them first. Imagine if you had a birthday party but didn’t send out any invitations. No one would show up.
This summer we have an opportunity to invite some friends and family members to events at Calvary that are a great “non-invasive” way to evangelize. The first will be our Interactive Film Series beginning on June 15th at 6:00 p.m. We will provide pizza, popcorn, and interactive props along with a guide for their use during the movie. On the back of the guide we will also provide some talking points that will help to explore the faith messages that are present in each of the movies. We will be watching The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Wizard of Oz, and The Incredibles this summer. Each of these movies are family friendly, appropriate for all ages, and will be made even more fun by the audience participation and interaction. These movies provide us with a great opportunity to show others how much fun we can have together as a group and can provide a way to share the gospel in a less frightening way.
Vacation Bible School is another great evangelism tool. Do you have a friend or a neighbor who has a passion for crafts, or for preparing snacks, or who has some children who need to be entertained for a week? We need puppeteers, registration helpers, singers, bible study teachers, group leaders and more. Do you have friends with these skills? Invite them to join us. Registration forms for VBS are in the narthex and on our church website. Helper signups are in the narthex or you can e-mail me at email@example.com to ask about helping.
These are great opportunities to dispel the stereotypes of who we are, and to show people all of the things we get to do. We get to have fun. We get to experience Godly play. We get to build relationships. We get to experience the unconditional love of God. We get to come together in a safe and secure environment where we can celebrate the many ways that God has created His people.
Go ahead. Invite a friend to experience Calvary this summer. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Rev. Lori A. Cornell