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Packing For The Journey Of Faith

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Every year about this time of year when I was young, Wal-Mart and K-Mart had binders hanging in the school supply aisles with each teacher’s school supply list. We’d wait for the letter from the school to come announcing who my teacher would be, then we’d head to the store to buy all the required school supplies. After the shopping trip, I’d take all the supplies and try to fit them just right into my backpack, so that I’d be ready when the first day of school came. Back-to-school time is a little different these days; our world is a little different than the one I grew up in. But school supply lists, anxiety about the cost of it all, and the mixed emotions of kids and families are probably all still with us.

Here in Kearney, even if we don’t have any students resuming school in our immediate families, school resuming does impact us in some ways. There’s a different vibe in the community when school is in session, and as the college students also come to town, this intensifies. Some roads will be more congested than before, and there are different community activities for us all to enjoy.

Since school’s resumption impacts us all to some extent, this month in worship, we’re using the image of a backpack to lead us into conversations about what things or practices we need to live the Christian life well, to participate in the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work.

Whether it’s a school backpack, an overnight bag or a weeklong suitcase, a trekking backpack, or a trip across town, we often pack at least some things for the journeys of life. This month in worship, we’ll take up this theme of Packing for the Journey of Faith to name some important practices and tools for walking faithfully with God in our daily lives. We’ll explore the journey of faith as God’s mission, packing the essentials, packing to sustain us, and packing the right stuff to boldly embrace the Christian life as God’s mission in and for the world.

Children’s and Youth Discipleship Ministries

Additionally, this season marks the resumption of our weekly children’s and youth ministries on Sundays and Wednesdays.

On August 6, to send them off to school well, we’ll share a special blessing for children, teachers, and other school-related professionals including a blessing of their backpacks.

On August 13, we’ll celebrate, thank, and bless the church’s student ministry leaders, as well as equip Second- and Third-Graders with the gift of a Bible they’ll use during the year’s ministries.

Each day, there will be activities for children during and between the worship services.

On August 20, regular children’s and youth Sunday School classes will officially begin.

Meanwhile, on August 16, our Wednesday night student ministries will begin at 7pm. However, we’ll also be starting a devotional worship service in the chapel every Wednesday at 6:30-6:55pm.

Growing as Jesus’s Disciples Together

One of our goals for this season is to develop more opportunities for adults to connect and grow in their faith. Through scripture, tradition, and experience, we know that sharing our lives with others for the purpose of growing in faith is one of the best ways to grow in our connection with God through which God grows us into our best selves – to experience God’s saving grace. Sometimes we call such connections “Small Groups.” Other times we call them “Sunday School classes.” We’re not getting hung up on the name. Instead, we’re stuck on God’s inspiration to create additional paths for us to walk together with Jesus on the journey of faith. If you’d like more information about this developing ministry, please fill out this short form.

Sermon Preparation

I need your help. The week of September 4, I will be participating in my second annual sermon-planning retreat.

Please take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey about things you’d like to hear preached about in 2024.

During the past year, Pastor Seungli and I organized many of our sermons and sermon series in response to your feedback. The series on grief near the beginning of the year, the series on Mark during Lent, and the past two series rooted in the Old Testament were all explicitly related to your responses.

Your responses will be part of our discernment process as I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the upcoming year’s preaching. I’ll spend the week praying, studying, pondering, and planning. Then, Pastor Seungli and I will continue refining the year’s plan in response to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and the context of our ministry together.

In addition to filling out the survey, please also be in prayer for me especially the week of September 4, that I may sense well the Holy Spirit’s inspiring presence through this process.

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