As worship concluded on Sunday morning I got a chance to hear a few “scar stories.” I even shared one of my own (about the scar above my left eye, a result of believing as a 4-year-old or that I was Aquaman and my brother was in need of saving in our tub.) Then at our Session meeting, our devotion also spoke of the scars and Jesus’ compassion and understanding of them.
Such stories are in the air because of the first part of our series “Terms of Resurrection” in which we heard how Jesus, in John’s gospel, shows his scars—the holes in his hands and sides—to the disciples not just once but twice. In so doing, Jesus puts scars front and center as part of what it means to embrace the good news of resurrection. It means pain and hurt do not magically vanish but that they are held and healed by Christ who knows what that pain is like. And it means that our pain and hurt doesn’t define us, and yet it can help us connect with others more meaningfully.
One of the best illustrations of this truth that I’ve ever seen is from a source I’ve quoted extensively in sermons and bible studies before—Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering, a book by pastor and theologian Rob Bell and published in 2009. Being a video I wasn’t able to share this effectively on Sunday, so I wanted to do so in this format.
The video below is a vocal presentation of the book’s themes, timed to begin at the point where Bell shares a story about how a minor pain led him to the realization of how hurts connect us and become a potential source of resilience and strength. The illustration runs for about 25 minutes (1:19:13-1:34:00) though the whole thing is worth watching! A word of warning though—the video names some pretty difficult issues, particularly mentioning eating disorders and cancer. So if that might be too intense for you, you may want to skip the video.
It’s a pretty radical idea, isn’t it my friends? The idea that suffering has the ability to unite us in far deeper ways than success and abundance can. But perhaps this can teach us that very little of the Christian faith (love your enemies, greatness of the servant, life from the cross, a symbol of death) follows traditional conventions and norms. And maybe most of it can lead us into remembering that our own hurts and wounds and scars don’t make us ugly or worthless and embracing the hurt and wounds of others with love and grace, saying “I know how you feel.”
The Lord Bless and Keep us As We Do So,
*In-Person/Livestream Worship: Join us each Sunday at 11:00am in person or online (via Facebook live) for worship!
Online participation via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/firstpresbyterianchurchofgarner
See our service from April 916, the Second Sunday of Easter below…
On Sunday, April 23 we celebrate Earth Care Sunday, recalling our call to be faithful stewards of the whole wide world that God has created and blessed. Join us for this second part of our series on “Terms of Resurrection.”
*Masks are welcome but optional during in-person worship as we continue to contend with COVID and an emerging flu season. We also ask everyone to be still mindful of social distancing and respectful of the personal space of others even as we give thanks for being together.*
*Walking Group: Join the Walking Group each Tuesday at 6pm. We currently meet at Cadence Senior Living Center (200 Minglewood Dr.). Dress warmly! If you have any questions, contact the church office at 919-772-0727. In the event there is inclement weather, we’ll just gather the following week.
*Upcoming Mission Opportunities: Our next service to HOPE will be Saturday, April 29--save the date!
Also, check out the sign-up sheet for Habitat for Humanity in the narthex. Put your name down if you would be interested in helping in any way with the Spring Faith Build. We will pick a day and project that suits the skills, abilities, and time of those who would like to be involved.
*May Spire articles are due on April 20th!
*2023 Vision Update: In January’s edition of the Spire, Rev. Acton wrote about church leaders (session, deacons, and staff) exploring an emerging vision for FPCoG, rooted in the idea of serving our “neighbors.” The Session continued this conversation at its February meeting and approved the following recommendations:
1. Appoint a group that can help develop a consensus among the congregation for a vision of FPCoG rooted in the image of being neighborly towards our local, regional, and global communities.
2. Complete a demographic study of our region to better know who our neighbors are and what their needs might be.
The next step will be identifying people to serve on the “Vision Team” described above and identifying resources to help us complete a demographic study in a helpful way. The Team will be composed of active members of the Session, the Deacons, as well as the congregation. If you might be interested in serving and helping clarify the call God is issuing to FPCoG for its ministry now and into the future, please contact Rev. Acton or Mike Koenig, the Clerk of Session.
*Share FPCoG with Each Other and Our Neighbors! FPCoG is an active church! To help others know this (and to stay up to date yourself), please consider following and asking others to follow us on Facebook or Instagram!