Celebrating So Many Things!

>> Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This picture shows the crowd that showed up for the 5:00 pm. Christmas Eve service at our Lincoln Center site. Chairs were added to the middle isle and we had a standing room only crowd of 294! Very cool picture of God at work.

The balcony was dusted off and completely filled with eager Christmas Eve participants who had a great view of the service!
Candle light was distributed and both campuses ended their services with Silent Night and Joy To The World. God orchestrated some very cool things this past Christmas Eve. Not to us, but to him be the glory!
I just completed figuring our average worship attendance for 2011. Our average worship attendance was 1,631 per week. That's 5% growth from 2010 with one-half of that growth due to our partnership and merger with Lincoln Center.
I'm continuing to celebrate that God continues to choose to allow us to be part of some "amazing and perplexing" things that He is choosing to do. I'm humbled and ecstatic as I think of God inviting us into 2012 with him. It's gonna be a challenge and a thrill.


Seeing Past the Busyness!

>> Thursday, December 8, 2011

The busyness of the season has arrived. We are getting ready for Saturday's Christmas In Walnut project, preparing for the holiday services, going to concerts and programs and trying to get things ready for the family Christmas celebrations. It's a lot!
In the midst of it, I want to feel the calm and peacefulness of this holy season of Christ's birth. I know that my perspective makes all of the difference. If I'm calm and centered on the inside, then I can continue to see the beauty and opportunities of this special season of the year. If I let my heart get focused on the busyness, then I lose what I love about this season--its peace and joy and hope.
So, I'm saying quiet prayers and looking for the joyful opportunities in each event. I'm loving my grandkid's Christmas programs. I'm loving the concerts and parties we will attend. I'm loving seeing so many friends and family. I've decided that I will find the quiet peacefulness that is available to me during and between the events of this season.
I hope you can take time to find peaceful and quiet times to focus on the baby of Christmas.


Christmas Is For Real!

>> Monday, December 5, 2011

Today Orchard's Daily Engagement with Scripture turned the corner to focusing upon Advent by diving into the first two chapters of Luke.
So, the gospel of Luke begins:
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fullfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. Luke 1:1-4
I love that the gospel of Luke starts this way with the Christmas story. Luke basically says this is the truth. I've investigated it and it seems good to write all of this in an orderly account.
In a culture where the myths of Christmas get mingled with the truth of Christmas, it's powerful to begin this way today.
My wife, Linda, and I have a stack of Christmas books that we read to our granadkids. It's a mix of the truth and the folklore of Christmas. The pile might look like this: The Grinch That Stole Christmas, Rudolf, The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Night Before Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy, and The Story of the Angels.
Truth and folklore mixed together. It's so good that as a church and in our homes we can enjoy the folklore and focus clearly upon the truth of a rescuer by the name of Jesus. For all of the homes who are using a Jesse Tree to bring this truth home to their family, today is Day 5.
This is going to be a fun season!


Critical Volunteers!

>> Friday, December 2, 2011

My wife, Linda, was up at 5:00 a.m. this morning preparing for the ministry, she founded more than 25 years ago, called Mom's Morning Out. She has been so committed to this ministry over the years. She recruits childcare every week, she cares for the moms and tries to help them keep growing in their faith. She has given 8-10 hours per week to this ministry for all of these years. Now our daughter is leading a similar group through St. Marks Lutheran Church is Cedar Rapids.
Linda says the key to this ministry is all of the volunteers who join her to serve the moms. She's right. Mom's Morning Out is one of our many key ministries that wouldn't even exist without volunteers and a volunteer leader.
I started thinking of this and wanted to say a word of encouragement to all of Orchard's volunteers. It requires hundreds of volunteers every week to be the church.
So, thank you....
300 volunteers who have committed to Christmas in Walnut
200+ volunteers who serve in Children's Ministry every Sunday morning
Volunteer parking team
Volunteer Coffee House team
Volunteer muscicians
Money counters
Newsletter folders
Greeters, ushers,
Big House, CHAOS, and BASIC volunteers in Student Ministry
Meal preparers on Wednesday night and Picnic in the Park
Small Group Leaders
I could go on and on but I won't. These volunteers and many others serve faithfully in seen and unseen ways. Thank you so much.
At our recent Congregational Celebration, our Volunteer Leadership Board shared their hearts for our church. Many have mentioned to me that it was moving to hear our Board of Elders share their hearts. At the top of this entry is a picture of many of them from the Congregational Celebration.


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