Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Never Alone

Ascension from the Rabbula Gospels.

What can you say when
There's much too much to be said;
Verbosity stinks.
--My haiku on having to give a blog update after too long of a gap

Since the last time one of us wrote, I have since traveled to Florida for school, together we went to Indiana for vacation, and now we are in the throes of change. These things are all happening simultaneously:

  • Our close friend and compatriot Jon is moving out of Okoboji to Wyoming (which might as well be Mars, in our mind). Which means goodbyes. Which means tears.
  • We are moving out of our current condo and going to be renting a house about 4 miles north of us. Which means packing. And taking down wallpaper and painting at the new place. And then taking what we've packed out of one upstairs-and-up-a-winding-staircase location into a much-easier-to-move-into location. (Who wants to help?!)
  • I am wrapping up my second semester of grad school. Which means papers and final exams.
  • We are moving our church's worship location from our Julia campus to the Tabernacle for the summer. Which means long work weeks, lots of untangling of XLR cables, and the annual experience of discovering the ghosts in the system.
  • We are launching our Pilot Missional Community, which means organizing a gathering of 35 adults and 18 children into meaningful gathering of worship, learning, fellowship, and mission.
As I compile these things into a list, it can seem a little daunting. Not to mention, it can make you want to shake your first at...whatever it is you like to shake your fist at. Because why on earth do all these things need to happen in the same 31 day period?

I've been considering the Ascension of Jesus recently. It is celebrated 40 days after Easter,  so this year it will be Thursday, May 17 (and/or the Sunday of May 20). It is a time to meditate on Christ's final instructions to the church, the (delivered) promise of the Holy Spirit, as well as the promise of Jesus' return.

What I'm thinking about currently is Jesus' promise, "I am with you always, even the end of the age," (Matthew 28:20). The thought that we are never alone, never left by ourselves to deal with the up's and down's of life is (here comes an understatement) encouraging. Downright uplifting. Jesus' presence is with us; the Holy Spirit of God makes us His tabernacle, and the whole earth is filled with God's glory (Isaiah 6).

But in yet another stroke of genius, Christ is with us in another way than a spiritual sense. Jesus setup His church to act as His presence on this earth. In fact, the church is meant to be the very body of Christ. When people ask, "Where is God?" in fact they are asking perhaps the harder-to-answer question, "Where was God's church?" But on the flip-side, when we are looking for God's presence, protection, and love we need look no further than the Bride, the Church itself.

So when I think of us moving, us saying goodbye to a dear friend, us launching a fresh, never-done-before ministry at our church, we take heart in the fact that we are not alone. We never were and we never have to be. The very Body of Christ, His presence, manifest in the church (local and universal) is here with, strengthening, bolstering, and helping us.

And that (here comes an understatement) is encouraging.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Welcome 2012!

I suppose I should call this blog post the perfunctory New Years post. Though it may be cliche, there’s really nothing wrong to take the time to reflect on the past and dream about the future. In fact, a good reflection is probably needed more than once a year. We can’t really know where we’re going without knowing where we’ve been or how we got there.

All this to say that 2011 has been a good year for the Parrott household.

It’s been a year of travel (Hawaii, Switzerland, Italy, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis, etc). It’s been a year of new experiences (concerts, grad school, church planting, etc). It’s also been a year of settling. We’re coming up on two years as residents of Okoboji, IA, and it’s been a wonderful two years. We now feel very much at home here in this little corner of the Midwest. We’ve adjusted to our jobs, made friends, and probably can’t use the excuse, “we’re new here!” any more.

This idea of settling in has really got me thinking as I’ve been reflecting on the past year. Up until this point in our lives, neither Anthony nor I could really tell you what settling in somewhere meant. We’ve gone from school, to graduating, to getting married, to job hunting, and now are finally here. Up until this point, we hadn’t had a job longer than a year (not a real job, anyways)... we had never lived in a home longer than a year (unless you count growing up with our parents!). So now we find ourselves in this whole new realm of life. We’re past college. Past some of the uncertainties of life. And we’re here. At least for now.

All of this has really made me adjust my prayer life and desires for the next year. I can see how easy it can be to let apathy creep in once one is settled in somewhere. How easy it can be to become comfortable. And how easy it can be to let that comfort dictate our lives. My prayer for this next year is that Anthony and I live intentional lives. That we be intentional with our time, with our love, with our money. My prayer is that we would seek God’s desires above all else and follow them even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it seems “weird.” Even when (and especially when) it pulls us away from being comfortable. I never want to lose that desire from God that love and grace really can change the world.

So hopefully our lives can reflect this in the year 2012. Hopefully we can continue to learn to hear His voice and let that guide us. That is my prayer for us, and it shall be my prayer for you as well!

Happy New Year!