Good Seed – Bad Seed | Inside – Outside Mark 13:26-30
“26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Another parable – the disciples regularly required remedial explanations of Jesus’s parables. In truth, so do we. We in life’s journey are surrounded by contradictions, opposites are all around us. Stimuli and our environments are similar but different. We are each unique but that also leads us to react differently; to interpret differently; and, to be (to a degree) our own source of contradictions. So in many way the bible’s telling of parables somehow mimic our lives, even in modern times. Our lives just like parables are sometimes difficult to follow, subject to individual interpretations, and the take away can be different and varied across a group of individuals. My wife Heather recently preached to this bible reference as she follows her calling to pursue certification and be a lay speaker. She thoughtfully prepares her messages. I get to contribute, in the smallest of way, by listening and commenting. In church her delivery, which is her gift, comes across with heartfelt sincerity and touches people.
As I listened that Sunday, I was struck by several points of her sermon. I had heard it several times but on this day I was captivated by these points:
Does a seed know it is good or bad? Once planted a seed attempts to thrive no matter what it is: crop, flower, or weed. Do not even weeds have a role in our environment even if we do not understand or appreciate that role?
Of course all the parable seeds are from the plant kingdom; so they do not have the alternatives or reasoning to be anything other than what they are predestined to be. This made me realize how lucky we are to have the ability to be something other than our environment, our upbringing, and our previous notions or beliefs. We are lucky it does not have to be done early on, it can be done later in life. Unlike crops and flowers (and even weeds), we humans have a true gift to be something other than have a single destiny. We have freedom of choice and can undergo constructive change. We are so blessed in this regard!
So on this day, even though I had heard the message several times, I picked out and reflected on different factors of the sermon. In concluding this message, there was a comparison made to flowers which although different (in their own way) can be an impactful and beautiful thing when mixed together as a bouquet. This is a lot like a church family or like our Emmaus Community, we each have individual talents and our own individual beauty which together can be impressive and powerful.
This led me to thinking about our Emmaus Community. To include our recent avocation of being an ‘Inside Out Community’. There is action we take ‘inside’ our community with regularity, but to stimulate growth and to increase the diversity and strength of our community we must recognize the need to grow and adapt to changing forms of communication and ideas. We need to examine and take action to improve our ‘outside’ the Emmaus Community interaction.
For the remainder of this year we want to be proactive and use our applications as “fishing nets” to cast far and wide to see what materializes. We do not expect instantaneous results but a deliberate and faithful outreach in potentially unchartered waters (outside our comfort zones) is the true goal. To be fishers for people so they can be exposed to and consider the Emmaus experience and if they walk, allowing them to cultivate their faith and grace, thereby, blossom in their own way. A couple of months ago, at Ultreya, we shared an affirmation of faith that several have separately asked me to provide. Since it was liked by so many; thought I would share it in this month’s article
An Affirmation for the Journey:
We believe in God Almighty, who sets life before us, and gives us gifts and graces for the journey; We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, who has been faithful to God and has revealed the glory of God through his resurrection; We believe in the Holy Spirit, who breathes into us the strength and wisdom to make the journey, and to respect those who accompany us; We believe in the Church Universal, that gives us a sense of fellowship and provides us with the knowledge that we are supported by those who care; We believe in the Life Everlasting, where the journey of this life leads us to a glorious new journey, where our spirits will soar with grace and beauty. Amen.
May we all be truly blessed in all we do and all we experience within our community of faith and as beloved children of God throughout our time on earth.
Community Lay Director
"My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in The Lord. " Psalm 104:34.
Emmaus Family - You are invited to outdoor Worship/praise/covered dish lunch in Shenandoah Valley on Sunday, 8/31 of Labor Day weekend with worship and praise (the Tidd's church). It is so fun and worshipful!! We also share about Emmaus and follow our "Inside-Out" outreach effort. Contact us for directions and more details.
What joy to sing in whatever circumstance! Recently the power went off and I found myself in pitch dark. Rather than scramble to look for candles, I remained still on the couch and spent time singing songs that bring peace to my heart. No fear. So many songs are about the storms of life & praising Him in the rain.
Whatever your storm or sunshine, keep a song in your heart that keeps you on center course with Christ!! Rock on. See you at Ultreya.
Our 2015 Weekends!!
E-173 ~ Apr. 30 - May 3 - Mike McLean
E-174 ~ Oct. 8 - 11 - Susan Verghese
E-175 ~ Nov. 5 - 8 - Tony Papp
All 2015 weekends will be held at the Meadowkirk, VA
And Our Remaining 2014 Weekends!!
E-170 ~ Oct. 02 - 05 - Beth Mickey
E-171 ~ Nov. 13 - 16 - Sam Parris
All weekends will be held at the 4-H Training Center near Front Royal, VA
On our Walk to Emmaus we are told the purpose of Emmaus is to encourage and develop church leaders. It was not envisioned as a place for initial evangelism. It was designed to serve as a time set apart for people who were already a part of the church, although perhaps not living into their full potential for Christian leadership. This opens the door to those who are relatively new in faith as well as those whose Christian life has languished whether the result of a weakness of devotion, times of hardship or distractions from the filling presence of the Holy Spirit.
This has always served as a guide when I consider appropriate people to sponsor. It may seem to make it more difficult to identify new people to sponsor as church attendance and membership is in a decades long decline. Several generations have grown up without a knowing experience of the presence of Jesus Christ in their life, much less a connection to and an identification with life lived as part of the church.
While it would be convenient to place blame for many of the world’s problems on secular influences, leadership and the decline of Christian community, it cannot be so easily done in the face of the weaknesses of our own Christian community. Sadly, the ways we approach conflict and contention within the church is often no better than the way disagreements are handled in the secular world. When we do engage in conflict we often leave a Christlike nature behind and replace it with our most human behaviors and practices. Far too often we take low blows and call each other names, but we do it with an artificial Christian smile upon our face.
We have come to a time in this world when Christian leadership is sorely needed. And that makes the messages we convey on an Emmaus weekend and carry into our churches as important as they have ever been. We know that we are not the power that draws people to the church. That is clearly the power of the Holy Spirit and the work of Jesus Christ. But if we are the hands and feet and face of Christ in this world, how do we draw people to the church if the people who claim to follow the Prince of Peace offer no better approaches or solutions to the world’s challenges than the ugly conflicts we see outside the church.
The Emmaus Walk may be a one-time experience, but the lessons we have learned must be part of our Priorities applied throughout our Christian walk. This will certainly take Perseverance. Let us remember what God does for us in Justifying Grace and what God will do in us if we give ourselves up to Sanctifying Grace. In our humanity we will always encounter Obstacles to Grace, but we can meet them with our dedication to observing the Means of Grace. Let us take very seriously what we can learn from objective sources about the issues facing our world if we apply ourselves to Growth through Study. How would we treat one another, especially those with whom we might disagree or have conflict if we seek to live out a Life in Piety? Remembering that we are a Priesthood of All Believers, how might we Change the World as the Body of Christ through Christian Action and Discipleship.
The message that God loves you is such a strong one across the weekend, and it is a message that we take great joy in sharing with every walk of new pilgrims. Let us keep in our hearts and minds and continue to apply the full message of Christian life and leadership that is conveyed on the Walk to Emmaus. It is the full message of our Fourth Day. It is a message and a life that our broken world dearly needs.
Blessings and De Colores,
Jer 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Phil 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every-thing, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Ps 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
These three verses keep popping into my head over the last month or so. This is my last FDJ article as the CLD for NCA Chrysalis. 12 months ago I has some worries but through much prayer and tons of support from the board and friends and my wife I feel that I have done God’s will for the community.
I know that there are many great things in store for the NCA Chrysalis community! I hope and pray that we will continue to grow and help to create more and more youth and young adult leaders throughout the NCA community churches and beyond! With God’s continued blessings I know we will be successful in bringing the love and leadership God’s community.
I want to thank the Chrysalis board and support staff without whom I would have been totally lost and not been able to what was needed of me! To those people I say you have all been a huge blessing and again thank you for your continued support for the community. A big thank you to Jan Niehoff and to Bob LeMay they have kept me on track and always pointing in the right direc-tion!
Lastly we have another weekend coming up the 21st-24th of August! C-87 is a high school weekend and we are in need of more caterpillar applications! Please if you know someone who is in high school and you think they would benefit from a weekend please take the time to send them an application! Applications can be found on our website www.ncachrysalis.org Please consider sponsoring a youth for this awesome weekend!
Fly with Christ
J. R. Williams
NCA Chrysalis Lay Director
I am the Community Palanca Cha. I need volunteers to make placemats for me. We need 270 decorated placemats for each team that goes to the Mountain.
I will have blank placemats at the Ultreyas each month. You can create your own design, either free hand, trace from a coloring book, use markers, glitter and glue to create your designs. You can either do them yourselves or get your Sunday School classes to do them. The pilgrims really like them when they come from the children. There are two kinds needed: the ones that are decorated with cute pictures and words, and ones that specifically say “DeColores”. It does not matter what the picture is, it only needs to say “DeColores” somewhere on the placemat. If you wish to make a set for a specific weekend that is great but you need to mark the envelope this is for E-# and I will make sure it goes on that weekend.
You can do placemats for Chrysalis they need the same decorated and instead of saying DeColores they say FLY WITH CHRIST. If you want to do them for Chrysalis you can get them from Terry Downer and return them to her or you can give them to me and I will make sure she gets them.
Or what about your cloth Palanca bags that you received on Friday. How many of you sew? You can go to your fabric store and pick up some material. Rainbow material works well, I guess because most people don’t want to use it as a dress. I will have the dimensions available for you if you’re interested at the Ultreya.
Do you remember your Joy Flag Parade? Joy flags are always needed. These can be made from paper or fabric, and can be as simple or intricate as you desire, as long as they say “Joy” somewhere on the flag. These should always be the pennant shape, too. You may also specify the joy flags for specific weekend also.
First stones are simple. Go outside, pick up a rock, and write “First” on it. Please write “F-I-R-S-T” and not “I-S-T on it. We have felt for the “I’m Lovable” flower pin that you received on Friday. Men get a pennant-shaped ribbon, and felt is available for both. Do you remember being showered with Warm Fuzzies on Sunday? If you love yarn, then this is the project for you. At the Ultreyas there will be the prayer wheel for you to sign up to pray and also, there will be a sheet passed that will have snacks for the weekend. You can sign at the Ultreyas. Food for the weekends needs to get to the Head Cha before Tuesday of the week that the team is going unless you are sponsoring someone and will be going to the mountain on Thursday.
Where do I get all of the material or instructions, you may ask. Well, you can pick up placemats, felt for flowers and banners, and yarn for warm fuzzes at the Ultreya each month. You can also pick up or return items at the Ultreya. There is usually a table near the church’s entrance where items are placed. Or you can find me and hand items to me.
If you’re not available to attend the Ultreya, you can contact me. My email address is LindaLSmith999@verizon.net and phone number is 703- 216-2469. And if you’re concerned about getting an item to me quickly, we can always keep in touch by phone and work out something. If you are willing to serve as Palanca Chairman for your church please fill out the information on the clipboard that I will have at each Ultreya in the front. Please list which items your group is interested in doing, so when I am running low on items I can contact the chairman.
If you are in a reunion group this is a good project that you could do. So, check with your group and see what items you all would love to do. If someone from your church has already signed up then you don’t need to. I am looking forward to working with you!
"If you would like to get placemats please call Linda Smith 703-216-2469 and she will meet you to get them to you"
Thank you and DeColores!
Linda L Smith
Revised Procedures for Ultreya Prayer Concerns
The Board of Directors recently addressed the topic of prayer concern procedures during Ultreyas. The Board was advised that prayer concerns at Ultreya, written out for the presiding Spiritual Director to read, in many cases contained sensitive and private information. As a result, the Board decided to revise the procedures and implemented their decision at the December Ultreya. The revised procedures ask that prayer concerns be written on a piece of paper (provided) and dropped into a box. At the appropriate time during the Ultreya, the box containing the prayer concerns will be brought to the presiding Spiritual Director who will lead the community in prayer.
If individuals feel that more information should be shared regarding a specific prayer concern, please submit that concern to the community through the Holynet after checking with the parties involved to obtain their consent. Prayer concerns for publication on the HolyNet should be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Board of Directors has set the Weekend Fees for 2012 as follows:
From the returning second-year class of Directors, one lay member is elected by the Board to serve as the Community Lay Director for a one year term.. This person then selects an Assistant Lay Director from the second-year class.
The second-year Spiritual Director serves as the Community Spiritual Director, with the first-year SD serving as the Assistant to the Spiritual Director