Sunday, June 04, 2006

Church today

Although I have not admitted this to many, I could take or leave sermons. The places of greatest connection for me in worship are usually songs, artistic expressions and communion. I have nothing in particular against the sermon but my desire would be for a teaching ministry that was more intertwined with the entire experience of worship and not an actual sermon. Having said that, I am quite a Mike Cope fan and could listen to him for hours. In fact, leaving Abilene was so hard for me, simply because I did not want to leave Highland. I was also blessed by so much of Art McNeese's teaching while we lived in Dallas and feel very blessed to hear Dan Bouchelle each week.

Today however, I was very moved. Whenever I try to break down what made up a service that was so moving, I am unable to do that. That is because I think so much of it depends on where your heart is at the time and what the Spirit is doing in you. Today, I loved the honesty I heard from Dan (not that he lies other weeks :-)). The sermon today served as a mirror for me. The worship time was simple with nothing overly creative, but it touched me deeply. My sense is that God had been invited to participate through every song and prayer and He did. I was moved as I reflected on our church and where we have been over the last 5 years. I was moved as I realized that the path we have chosen (staying down town, new vision and mission etc) is not the one to rapid growth or external success. I was moved when I realized that God has worked and is working and in just a few years I have been witness to life changes in people and a church who has tried to change its image and reputation. Obviously as a part of the ministry team here, I share my husband's frustrations about "the life and work of ministry" and it is easy for me to get aggravated at times. But today I was struck by what a huge task this has been to turn this "country club church" ship to something more on the course of "outpost for the Kingdom."

I confess that sometimes it is easier for me to be irritated by the pettiness of people than to understand them. I confess to also being "covetous" of how other churches do things and have longed to be like them. I confess to having feelings of pride that make me want to be at a church that is more forward thinking, more progressive etc. I try to teach my children that "stuff" does not make a person great. Yet, I tend to rely on "stuff" to enhance my church experience instead of relying on God to transform me. Today I am convicted that God has placed me here in this place to work, live and love along side people who are flawed just like me. My focus today is to see God working here in this place at this time with me as a part of the plan and not the problem. Somedays this is easier for me to embrace and believe, and other times it is rhetoric. Today I can say this with a convicted heart.


don said...

Arlene, your post, especially the last paragraph, speaks of true worship. "Pure religion" it is called elsewhere. It is the daily walk, and not the once-a-week program we think of when we think "church". Good post.

Also, your post made me miss Central. Tell Johnny and Janie Weems that Don in Arkansas says hey for me next time you see them.

Amy said...

I could listen to Dan Bouchelle for hours on end. You are blessed!

Yeah, Bubba and I need to experience Amarillo the Kasselman way!

Arlene Kasselman said...

We love the Weems and will tell them you send your love. Central is a special place, warts and all.
Did you hear that Tim McMenamy, Iman Crawford and 2 newer memebers were installed as Elders. God is good.

don said...

We see the McMenamy's every once in a while here on campus at Harding, but did not know he is now an elder. I ran into Drena in the Little Rock airport a few weeks ago.

I think it is exciting to see what you have been doing there, and love the focus on staying where you are and reaching out to the area around you. It is needed! Keep it up.

I always wanted to start an Arnold's hamburger ministry, but was afraid of running into "one cupper's" there who'd want to share my Coke, so didn't ever get it off the ground.

Bek said...

Central is a big ship and it just takes awhile to get that "Titanic" size group to move in any direction. Any change comes slowly and with a price due to the age of the ship and the difficulty it takes to make any course direction. We've been on that ship for 17 years now and have observed lots of sincere and not so sincere efforts to turn the wheel. I could go on and on with the comparisons: ice berg, captain, poor communication, not enought life boats, etc al nauseum.
BUT I want to stay on this ship because of the precious friendships and interwoven relationships that are also on board. Oh, and we almost sank once but God provided a lifeline.
:-) I enjoy reading your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.