Josh Mounce - June 3, 2018

God Is... Father

Monday Messiah

What does it mean to be a good father? And what do we do if we have bad fathers? In John's Gospel, Jesus teaches us what fatherhood looks like - and why it matters that God is our father, whether we're fathers or not.

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About 2 years ago, I became a father. My wife gave birth to our daughter, Aria, on June 30th, 2016. And so began a journey I knew that I could never be fully prepared for. I had received a lot of good advice from parents, and some eh… so-so advice from non-parents. But overall, I felt pretty ready (haha.) I knew I wouldn’t be perfect, but the moment in which I truly felt like the worst parent ever came one evening when I was getting her ready for bed.

She was beginning to crawl and pull up on things, so I knew to be super wary when changing her on the changing table. Ya know, that’s 3 feet off the ground. I’m changing yet another nasty poop diaper and go to throw the diaper in the Diaper Genie and it’s full… awesome. So, I have to take my hand off Aria for like 3 SECONDS to shove that nasty diaper down in there real fast. You may have already guessed what happened. My firstborn child – the one we had prayed over and cherished so much – rolled and fell 3 feet, straight down, head first toward the hardwood floors that we had been so excited to have in this new house.

BUT my newly founded dad/ninja reflexes were starting to kick in and I managed to grab a leg and, by a miracle, not rip it off, which minimized the head to floor contact. And now, cue the freaking out, crying, and general hysterics… from me. Then my wife runs in, and the baby’s crying, I’m shaking from the terror and shame that I just damaged my child for the rest of her life and my wife will never forgive me and the world is over and I’m going to go to jail for child endangerment and…

Breathe. She was ok, I was ok, and, thankfully, no one was damaged for life.

It’s becoming more and more clear to me as time goes on that I’m not going to be the perfect father. I’m going to mess up. I’m going to let her down. And I know that everyone here is or has had an imperfect father. This can be part of why it’s hard to talk about God as our “father…” because we have all had a different experience with our earthly father. We often base our interactions and view of God the Father on our relationship (or lack thereof,) with our fathers. Maybe you had a dad that never said, “I love you,” but just expected you to know it. Maybe your dad left when you were young. Maybe you had an amazing dad. Maybe your dad died, and you always longed for more time to get to know him. Maybe you wish you’d never known your dad.

Every one of us has a unique view of what a father is, should be, or what we wished he would be. Regardless, God is a better father than we think he is. He is not there to criticize us, to abandon us, or to leave us hoping to gain his approval. He has done, and will do, everything he can to show how much he loves us, cherishes us, and, while it can sometimes hurt, help us to grow. 

No matter what kind of dad we had, we’re celebrating that God is a better father than we think.

Join us Sunday as we discover how God the Father matters to each of us.

JR. Forasteros - October 29, 2017

Sitting with Grief

Good Grief

Grief is uncomfortable. In the face of tragedy, no words are sufficient to salve our pain. Yet in the face of others’ pain, we find ourselves offering platitudes and speaking for God so we can avoid their pain. But Lamentations 1 is a funeral dirge. We hear the woman’s honest, unflinching cries of pain and see the prophet join her, offering nothing but his presence. How can we learn to be honest about pain so we can begin the process of reorientation?

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We avoid pain and grief as much as possible. When faced with someone else's grief, we avoid or offer platitudes. But the book of Lamentations invites us to sit with grief, to enter into the prophetic process of Lament. In this series, we'll explore how to grieve and how to be a friend to the grieving. Ultimately, we'll see how the process of lament invites us to be agents of healing in the larger world.

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You’ll never hear more bad theology than at a funeral.

One of the most difficult experiences in my pastoral career was in Ohio. A seventeen year old member of our church was killed in a car accident with her friends one night. The whole community was rocked, and as a result, several hundred came to her funeral. As one of the pastors, I stood with her parents in the receiving line, offering handshakes and hugs to mourners before they offered condolences to her parents.

If you’ve ever stood in those lines, you know that’s where people say some truly awful things. Things like, “God needed another angel in heaven.”

Really? God’s so needy he takes children? God can’t just make more angels?

Or, “Everything happens for a reason.” As though any reason is adequate to bring comfort in the midst of grief.

We say those things because we’re not good at grieving.

Other people’s grief makes us very uncomfortable. We feel an anxiety that makes us want to push all that away, to fix it, to do SOMETHING to make everything feel less awkward.

So we offer a cheap platitude because then we DID something and we can LEAVE and not feel like we’re abandoning someone.

Times like right now, when we’re not in the middle of the ickyness of grief, it’s obviously the wrong way to respond.

But what DO we do? How DO we respond to pain (and not just individual pain, but the pain in our culture, in our world)? What is a good, helpful, appropriate response to grief?

We’re going to talk about how to be WITH each other in our grief. To be honest about the pain, to bear witness with each other.

When we can be honest about our grief, we enter into the process of lamenting, which is how God invites us to heal, to grow and to become agents of healing in the world.

Join us Sunday as we learn how facing the pain of grief begins the process of healing.

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