Guest Author: Ben Asnicar
There is something profoundly affirming about being seen. Call it being heard (really listened to), recognized (for accomplishment or character), acknowledged (for contributions or being present), respected (as a fellow human/image-bearer), or noticed (as a participant or as a potential love interest), in many cases, it’s the first step in being truly known.
Being known requires vulnerability. Being seen requires the active eyes of a see-er.
A few weeks ago (well, more than that now… before COVID-19 quarantine), after a lunch meeting at work, I walked over to spend some time with my wife and baby boy (we work at the same company and our boy is in the daycare at work). After getting some baby snuggles and kisses, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked the long way outside back to my wife’s desk. When we got to the place where we would part ways and wrapped up our conversation, I whispered, “I love you,” (we try to keep it professional in the office, hence the whisper) and she reciprocated. Then I said, “Thank you for seeing me!” And she responded in kind. As I walked down the stairs, I thought about how odd it felt to say that, and because I’m a word nerd, what it implied. Then I realized that I truly meant it.
“Thank you for seeing me.” It’s easy to say, but if you stop and think about it, the sentiment runs deep. We were created to crave being noticed and we have lots of evidence that we seek it in good and bad ways (hello social media)!
Pause for a moment and think about those closest to you—your coworkers, kids, classmates, spouse, family members, neighbors. Do they feel seen by you? Do you take time to acknowledge and value them with your focus?
Then pause again and realize that your Creator sees you. As Pastor Reid Kapple recently put it in a message unpacking Psalm 56, “God knows, sees, counts our fears and tears and failures and pains. Our trials and tragedies. Not to shame us, He knows them because He cares for us. God doesn’t just know everything about us, He feels everything we feel. He is ‘omni-empathetic’. When our pains are seen and understood, we feel ‘felt’ and that’s comforting. In our darkest, lowest moments, God is there.”
Isn’t it nice to be seen and heard by someone who truly understands what we are going through! There is something so comforting and encouraging about talking through hard things with someone who has walked through what you are experiencing. It’s why support groups are so powerful.
More than “just” seeing us, God delights in seeing you and in you seeing Him. He finds joy in knowing and being known by you. As Pastor Tom Nelson recently said in a message about Psalms 42 and 43, “God’s eyes light up when He sees you.” Sit in that reality for a bit.
Have you seen the movie Ratatouille? Near the end, food critic Anton Ego orders “a little perspective.” After he is wowed by the main character’s cooking ability, he reminds the viewer that sometimes we need to look at things a little differently and realize that good things can come from unexpected sources. In this video message, Farshid Fathi offers a little perspective as an encouragement for Christ Community while we are isolated in our homes.
Farshid Fathi is an Iranian Christian who was imprisoned for his faith and ministry work. On December 26, 2010, Farshid and 24 other Christians were arrested in Tehran. Twenty were questioned and released, but Farshid was one of the four who were not let go. He would spend the next five years in prison.
A portion of Farshid’s prison stay was spent in solitary confinement where he faced long, harsh interrogation sessions and isolation in a very small cell for 361 days. In February of 2012, he was brought to trial and convicted of “action against the national security through cooperating with foreign organizations and evangelism.” Farshid was then sentenced to a total of six years’ imprisonment.
Farshid experienced many injustices within the court system including having his prison term extended on false charges and suffering through a violent prison raid in 2014 in which he was injured. Miraculously, Farshid was finally released in December of 2015, a full two years earlier than expected.
Farshid has long been a friend of Christ Community, and he has visited the Leawood Campus multiple times. Recently, he recorded a short message of perspective for us as we face our own isolation in this time of quarantine. May God fill your heart with hope and encouragement as you look for ways to be thankful and potentially adjust your own perspective during this unique time.
The Lord’s Supper is a meal Jesus ordained as a means to nourish His followers as we await His return. In Jesus’ last supper with His disciples before He was crucified (Luke 22:7-20), He centered the Passover meal, a meal instituted by God for Israel to remember their salvation from Egypt (Exodus 11-12), upon Himself and His saving work on the cross.
In obedience to Jesus, the early church regularly partook of this meal as they gathered together (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). And so we too now follow Jesus’ command to eat and remember.
The gospel is proclaimed to all our senses as we see broken bread as Jesus’ body broken for us and see juice as a representation of His blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins. In this moment of remembrance, we celebrate what God has accomplished in Jesus. We also experience by the power of the Spirit a unique communion with God and each other.
All committed followers of Jesus are welcome to partake of the meal and so remember God’s promises to His children and the believer’s commitment to Him. Examination of one’s heart before partaking is encouraged to see if there are any unconfessed personal or corporate sins of which to repent (1 Corinthians 11:27-34). For to remember the covenant of God in Jesus and not repent of known sin only further instills hypocrisy, and so destruction. This is also why the Lord’s Supper is reserved for believers in Jesus. Instead of nourishment, partaking of the Lord’s Supper as an unbeliever only further speaks condemnation until one rests in Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Bread (any kind will do)
- Juice (something red is preferable)
- A humble and repentant heart
- Other believers (preferable if available)
HOW TO PARTAKE
In our online worship together, we will walk through the steps to partake and remember together.
Let us bow our hearts
and heads in prayer.
Our Father everlasting, Lord Jesus our crucified and risen savior, Holy Spirit our constant comforter, our triune God—you are the everlasting One. We believe in You! In this moment of corporate worship, we gather as your created and redeemed image bearers, your beloved bride the church, with minds focused on You and with hearts adoring You! With unity of Spirit, we trust You at all times! In these disruptive, turbulent, fearful and uncertain times, we cling to You. Though we find ourselves in uncharted territory, we know as our sovereign triune God this does not take You by surprise, nor, is this uncharted territory for You.
Lord, how great You are! You are our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. You alone are our good shepherd! In You there is life with no lack. You lead us to green pastures and beside still waters. You restore our anxious and weary souls. Even in the darkest valleys, we will not fear, for You are right here with us. You are always attentive to us. You provide for us. You guide us. You watch behind us and You go before us. We find safety, comfort, peace, and joy in your omnipotent and loving nail scarred hands. We cast our cares on You, for You care for us, for nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As your dependent yet expectant children, we come to You with humble hearts asking You to protect our congregation, our city, our nation, and the global community in this time of a global pandemic. We ask for your attentive presence and merciful care on the most vulnerable among us, those most physically vulnerable, emotionally vulnerable, and economically vulnerable. Grant to our medical researchers and health care workers protection from illness and give them in your grace extra strength and resilience. We pray for our local, city, state, and national governmental leaders and our business leaders, that You would protect them from illness and grant to them great wisdom and strength in the midst of so many demands and so much stress.
As a congregation, we pray that You would protect and provide for us in the ever changing and difficult days ahead. Help us to joyfully and sacrificially be the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of Jesus to each other and to our neighbors. And teach us to pray as Jesus taught us to pray…let us pray our Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever.
Part of the mission of Christ Community is to be a caring family. With this in mind, we want to address the challenges our community is facing with the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19). While there is currently no vaccine available for this disease, the CDC recommends taking the same cautious approach to this disease as we do with the seasonal flu.
We would like your help in preventing the spread of all illnesses at this time of year by practicing the following:
- Stay home if you feel sick (avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after you are fever-free).
- Please keep your children home if they are showing signs of illness. Again, please keep them home until they have been fever-free (without medication) for at least a full 24 hours.
- Diligently and frequently wash your hands using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds (this continues to be the most helpful, effective, and important measure everyone can take).
- If washing your hands is not possible, we have hand-sanitizer located throughout the building for your use. Please use it often.
- Avoid touching eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.
- Should you choose to do so, feel free to employ a “fist-bump” and a big smile rather than shaking hands with those you meet.
We will continue to utilize appropriate cleaning as we always have. Our cleaning company consistently wipes down surfaces with disinfectant, and our early childhood department regularly wipes down toys.
In a recent sermon from our series on Luke, we were reminded that our hope is in the Lord, not in the plans of man. Let’s pray together for our community and world as we deal with this virus and also remember where our hope is placed. May God use our fears to draw us to Himself.
Should the COVID-19 virus continue to spread and hit the Kansas City area to a degree that concerns health care professionals, we will respond with increased measures and preventative actions for church functions* and will consider how to best play a role in our community for good in a time of need.
*Each campus is currently assessing communion practices.
Easter Egg Hunting – Social Media Style!
Join our city-wide social media egg hunt. A little unconventional? Maybe. But a fun way to build community across the city, and win some swag in the process. What’s up for grabs? T-shirts, mugs, and Redbox® codes to name a few items.
Win by liking, sharing (or reposting), and commenting on the most posts (one point for each activity per post, for a max of three points per post) on BOTH Facebook and Instagram between MARCH 18 – APRIL 1. (NOTE: you MUST use the hashtag #cchunt18 in your comment in order for us to track your points.)
Find the hidden eggs, solve the riddles, answer the questions, then share (Facebook) or repost (Instagram, using an app like Repost) using the hashtag #cchunt18
There will be winners from every campus. So, share the love, join the fun!
HINT: Want a better chance of winning? Here are a few tips to make sure @ChristCommunityKC shows up higher in your news feeds.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Facebook: How to see more Christ Community posts in your Facebook news feed.
When you select a person or Page to see first, their posts appear at the top of your News Feed. To use “see first” from your News Feed preferences:
- Click “Prioritize Who to See First”
- Select ALL (or search for “Christ Community”) to See First
- Select “Christ Community,” then “DONE”
To use See First from our Page:
- If you’re not already following Christ Community’s Page, click Follow near the cover photo
- Hover over Following or Liked near their cover photo
- Select See First
If you want to receive notifications for our posts select a Christ Community as a close friend.
Instagram: How to see more Christ Community posts in your Instagram feed.
Instagram is pretty smart! If you engage with a particular account regularly, you’re telling Instagram that you really like that account’s content. As a result, Instagram will show you more of that content in your feed!
SO, If you want to see Christ Community showing up in your feed, love on our content! If you are regularly liking, commenting, or saving Christ Community content, then our posts are more likely to be shown to you.
Are you uber-competitive? Scroll to a ChristCommunityKC IG post, tap the “…” in the upper right of the post and select TURN ON POST NOTIFICATIONS and a notification will show every time we post on IG. Really, this is only 1-3x daily. So doable!
Let the Easter Egg Hunt BEGIN!
NOTE: Winners will be contacted the first week in April via DM, and prizes will be awarded 4-6 weeks following the end of the hunt.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Facebook Links”]BROOKSIDE Facebook Page
DOWNTOWN Facebook Page
LEAWOOD Facebook Page
OLATHE Facebook Page
SHAWNEE MISSION Facebook Page[/vc_toggle][vcex_button url=”https://www.instagram.com/christcommunitykc”]Instagram Page[/vcex_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]
In regard to Lent…
If you use email to operate the logistics of your work and life, you surely see “Re:” in your inbox daily. “Re,” of course, means “in regard to.” “Re:” signals that someone has replied to an original message.
In The Beauty of Weakness: A Walk Toward Easter, a Lenten devotional provided by Christ Community Church, I keep coming across the theme of “Re.”
I am reminded by our pastoral staff that Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter) is a season of reflection and renewal…a time to slow down and take a look at my life and my spiritual walk. A season to identify sins that hinder and recalibrate my habits in a way that leads to a deeper dependence on God.
Christians often use the days of Lent to fast from something significant in their life. This self-denial may come in the form of giving up anything from chocolate to caffeine to social media – or maybe even a more poignant sacrifice. The overall point of this personal sacrifice, according to Associate Pastor Jordan Green, is to “loosen our attachment and recalibrate our contentment.” Jordan writes that by denying our own strength or pleasure, “we might more clearly know the sustaining work of our Lord.”
As we have begun the annual observance of Lent, it is wise to take this opportunity to respond to an original message ourselves. We respond to the message of God’s unfailing and steadfast love – the very same love that Moses and the Israelites sang of thousands of years ago after their miraculous exodus through the parted Red Sea.
“…Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? …In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them…” Exodus 15: 11,13
We respond to the message of this same God who who kept covenant and steadfast love to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9) and sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die on our behalf because he so loved the world. (John 3:16)
It’s no coincidence that so many of the themes of lent start with the prefix, “re.” Dictionary.com tell us that “re” is, “a prefix…with the meaning ‘again’ or ‘again and again’ to indicate repetition, or with the meaning ‘back’ or ‘backward’ to indicate withdrawal or backward motion.”
Each year during Lent, as we withdraw, quiet our hearts, and break our regular routine, we are invited to reflect, again. We are invited to repent, again. We are invited to recalibrate, again. We are invited to renew ourselves, again. As a matter of fact, our God of love and amazing grace invites us into renewal every day of the year, not only during Lent.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5
“In regard to” Lent, will you respond to God’s original message of love through the disciplines of reflection, repentance, and recalibration? There’s no better place to start than in Scripture and through prayer. On Easter Sunday, let us celebrate the Risen Lord our Savior with a renewed heart, mind, and spirit.
GUEST AUTHOR: Lauren McMonagle
Lauren attends Christ Community Church, and this text originally appeared in her BLOG: https://rootedlauren.com/ Used by permission.
There are so many things that I could say about our Vacation Bible School week. I could praise God for the incredible weather we had. I could express my sincere gratitude for our over 100 volunteers who served in various ways throughout the week. I could share how utterly amazed I was by our outstanding Children’s Ministries team. Or I could say how pleased I was that so many people were wearing purple. Go cats!
VIEW THE VIDEO RECAP
But what I wanted to focus in on was how VBS was this beautiful microcosm of the body of Christ displayed in the metaphor of the family. Throughout the week I watched so many volunteers playing, teaching, leading, loving, and serving each and every kid as if they were their own. As I was watching all of this take place I was struck by the power of the local church. I mean really, where else is this kind of unique familial environment possible where dozens of children instantly have multiple aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpas? Where else are so many children loved and treated like family regardless of who they are related to? Where else can strangers come together and be family?
Yes, VBS was so well run and was, for all intents and purposes, a huge success. Yes, VBS was a great place for our children and leaders to grow in the beautiful mystery of Christ, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). But for me, the big takeaway was seeing our church embody and emulate the picture that the apostle Paul paints for us in Ephesians 2:19 where he says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
Maybe I am just getting sappy as I get (slightly) older. Maybe I am just feeling the significance that, Lord willing, I get to be these kids’ pastor for years to come. Or maybe I just really love VBS. But I think more than all of that, I just love the local church. I love that through the grace of God our Father who sent Jesus the Son to dwell within us through the Holy Spirit, He has made us a family (Eph 3:14-17). I love that the church is a place where anyone can become family and be loved like family. Where the fatherless have fathers. Where the childless have children. Where the lost can be found. Where the dead can be brought to life.
So my prayer is that VBS would bear fruit in the life of our church for years to come and even in the lives of those that we have not yet met. But I also pray that we as a church would continue to faithfully and fruitfully live out our mission of being a caring family of multiplying disciples, influencing our community and world for Jesus Christ.
Thanks for letting me share my heart.
Your adoring pastor,