It unfolded something like this:
We try to lay out our series several months in advance. This enables all the creative programming team members to get their hands on the service & make it really cool. Our series leading into Christmas which we called “Hello, God” was out of John’s musing on the Christmas story, the incarnation of the Son of God often called John’s prologue. It sets so many BIG ideas in all that John’s writings. We picked 3. LIGHT, GRACE & LIFE.
In the mean time, an old friend with whom I went to Talbot Seminary (click here) had written a book. Actually it was his 2nd book. John had spoken for me several times in the past. We were good friends in Sem. John was the other “normal guy” that helped me stay somewhat sane & normal in that context. John is a one of a kind uniquely gifted speaker. Honestly he’s one of my favorite speakers, period. We got in touch with each other and started talking about having John come to Journey & speak.
Here’s another factor. I said to myself the last couple of Christmases that I need to not preach every weekend in Dec and turn around 2, 3 or 4 days later & do the 3 or 4 Christmas Eve services, which besides Easter are our biggest services.
I was sent a copy of Bo’s Café [Click here] I loved it. And guess what, it’s all about Grace. So I said to John’s people, “any chance John could come in December?” They said, how about Dec 11/13. The weekend we were going to talk about… you guessed it, GRACE.
It was an INCREDIBLE message. Honestly, one of the best for my life & I think for us at Journey, I have ever heard or could imagine.
Although it defiantly was a “you had to be there” experience, here are few statements I wrote down.
Awakening to the pain of realizing I cannot control my world, desperately trying to fix symptoms instead of resolving issues without the help others.
What if there was a place so safe where the worst of me could be known and I would be loved more not less for the telling of it.
Love is the process of meeting needs
God made me with weakness so I could be loved by you.
I can never resolve my issues by myself.
I must disdain any other manner of relating to god.
Grace means no gradations. God cannot love me more and will not love me less.
Goal is not that things get fixed but that nothing gets hidden.
Anything that appeals to law keeps me trapped.
It’s healthier to have a church of messed up people messing up than a neat place of hidden people.
Not a behavior contest but a reveling contest.
I could tell that people were really connecting with the message. We sold almost 500 copies of Bo’s Café & John was signing books till about 1:30. A guy I surf with showed up on Friday for the 3rd time. He loved it.
WORSHIP & CHIRSTMAS – I love the songs we got in store for Christmas Eve. I marvel at the depth & poetry of some of the Christmas carols. There is a years worth of theology in Hark the Herald Angels Sing. I also loved the SwitchFoot song “Mess of Me” that Bryce Turner crushed! Perfect!
STORIES OF GRACE – It’s always interesting to me to be at Journey & not be preaching. One of the things I notice is that I’m freed up to say little prayers for people and to hear stories. One person shared that she was new to Journey (this was their 4th weekend). A 13-year marriage was ending as the spouse left the marriage & their 3-year-old son for another. Despondent & suicidal a friend offered an invitation to Journey. Hope is coming alive again.
ANOTHER STORY – We heard about a little girl last week caught the flu & was now in the hospice. One of our people knows the little girl, Sammie, through the school she works at. She felt led to go to the hospice she was at & pray. Sammie pass away this week. Her mom was at Journey for the 1st time on Sunday. I was so glad to get to meet her and of course, my heart broke in talking to her.
John and I spent Saturday afternoon catching up. Then Linda and I took him to dinner. We talked a lot about how the gospel & life with Jesus gets so convoluted into a performance oriented powerless religious thing irrelevant to real life.
Also Check out Brian Berry’s post on our High School ministries BLACK & WHITE BALL. It’s a fantastic outreach that has become something of a tradition in our ministry. Click here.