Rooted Togehter

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7 NRSV

 

We’re rooted together at After School as we learn, live and grow together each day as over 40 children come, led by our talented staff they learn about other cultures, learn biblical stories and create community. This unique community brings together children from across our county together with college students who love, nurture and care for them; one parent described after school as a place where her child had access to big brothers and sisters that cared for him. Our After School Ministry is a community that is living, learning and growing together. Thanks be to God for what he is doing!

 

I shared this with our church on Sunday, January 10, 2016 about our After School Ministry.

 

 

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2016 Encouragement

To all of my loyal readers and followers thank you for continuing to read my work on here! I hope you all had a great Christmas and will have a great 2016.

Here’s somethings I think we all should do 2016:

  • Invest in your local community. Become part of the community you live in and make a difference.
  • Spread peace and love. Violence is NOT okay. Mass shootings shouldn’t be a daily occurrence.
  • Enjoy the small things. Relax.
  • Do something that will make an impact and better the life of someone else.
  • Do random acts of kindness for those you don’t know.
  • Invest in the future.
  • Listen for where God is calling you and respond.

I hope 2016 will be a year filled with rich blessings, growth and unlimited possibilities!

Go in peace and love boldly! Kelly 

 

 

Advent Prayer for Hope

Creator God,

It with much anticipation that we await the birth of Christ! While we wait, God, remind us of Christ’s presence in each of our lives and how his presence continuously transforms us – how Christ finds good in us, when we live in a world that sometimes lacks hope. Help us to find hope when all we see is fear and terror. Help us to provide opportunities that cultivate a sense of hope in a tragically broken and fragmented world. Help us to hopeful that one day violence in the news won’t be a daily occurrence. Help us to be hopeful about the future and be hopeful that future generations will see the good in all of humanity. Help us to see the needs of this world and focus ourselves on you, God rather than the color of a coffee cup, black Friday sales, or what a Reese’s cup Christmas tree looks like.   Help us to recapture what it means to be a hopeful and faithful people as we anticipate the arrival of the Christ child. Amen.

This prayer was shared in worship at First Baptist Church, Sylva on November 29, 2015. 

 

What If…

I tend to read two or three books at one time, simply because I like reading and well there are so many good options it’s hard to pick just one book. Currently I’m reading one book on finding God in people and having an authentic faith, the other is about advent and how we should give more and spend less during the year. While both of these books don’t exactly go together I have made them come together in my cluttered brain.

Here’s a few “what-ifs” I’ve scribbled down over the past few weeks as I’ve read both books.

What if we attempted to gain a deeper understanding of our walk with Christ?

What if we tried to find moments Hope, Joy, Peace and Love in our daily life?

What if we quit caring about Starbucks cups?

What if we complained less?

What if we prayed more?

What if we started giving to people all year around and not just during the holiday season?

What if we spent more time with the ones we love rather than being on our device?

What if we tried to find the good in all people no matter how much we didn’t like them?

Yeah….what if….

How The Sacred Smacked Me In The Face!

Today a friend of mine and me were talking about finding time in our busy lives to slow down and find the sacred. Of course, I said I needed to find more time to slow down and experience life rather than just going from one thing to the next. Well here’s a story of how the sacred smacked me right in the face.

Each day I pick up children from two schools for the after school program I direct and yes driving a bus full of children is my favorite thing to do each day! I walked in one school in a rush to get kids, get out the door and load the bus then start our journey back to church. As I was racing around the circle, I heard a familiar voice say “hey, Mr. Kelly” I looked down and it was one of my summer camp kids sitting down completing her math homework, I didn’t have much time to stop and talk to her since one of the after school mentors had a crowd of kids alone and needed to check attendance and load the bus, but I decided to sit down, take a few minutes and catch up with her. She updated me on her life as quick as a seventh grade girl can and then expressed how she missed our church and the after school program, I wrote my number down and told her to have her parents contact me.

Now here’s some backstory on this young lady, during the summer she reaffirmed my distain for middle school girls – the drama, the crying, the attitude, and complaining – I just can’t take it. Ugh. I digress. She came to us at random this summer; I remember talking to her grandmother about her enrolling as I was driving on I-40 headed back to the mountains from Fayetteville. I’m not sure what her full story is but I know it’s full of pain, hurt, distrust and not filled with lots of love. She came to us a scared and unsure about it meant to be Christian. During this summer she developed in ways I never would have imagined but she grew in her relationship with Christ and accepted Christ. While myself and staff takes no credit for helping children come to know Christ we believe it is the spirit working through us and the biblical education we provide children with on a daily basis.

And that’s how the sacred smacked me in the face!

Weekend Reflections.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend time at Montreat Conference Center. The weekend was a time of renewal and challenge for me. As most of you know I’m a huge introvert, so it was hard for me to be at a conference and around hundreds of people, but I survived.
Anyway let me get to the point. I spent time engaging in conversation with other church workers, Christ followers and hippies that believe in the power of loving one another no matter what you look like. The conference was one to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. speech at Montreat some 50 years ago. I’ll spare you lots of details and political conversation and cut straight to the point and tell you some things I walked away with from this past weekend.

I walked away from this weekend feeling encouraged and challenged to make a difference in my community.

I walked away from this weekend with a better understand of today’s Civil Rights issues and how I must be an agent for justice and change.

I walked away realized that if I don’t rock the boat I’m sinning. Thank you, Leonard Pitts, Jr.

I learned that if I want to be a true change agent I will offend people sometimes and that is part of the process. Thank you, Bishop Yvette Flunder!

I learned that I need to operate in the sphere of my influence to change the world. Thank you, Charles Blow.

My respect for history deepened this weekend, Bishop Vashti McKenzie said “the further you look back the farther ahead you can see”.

I’m grateful for a good and challenging weekend around folks who want to make this world better. I’m committing to become more involved in my local community and advocate change!

What are you doing to change the world?

Changed.

I spend a good bit of time planning and organizing in my daily work and wondering where I’m headed or asking what’s next. Now lets stop and recognize the fact that I’m not a very organized person, nonetheless it seems like I’m always trying to figure what the next activity or task is before I’m done with the present.   Why am I bringing this up?

On one hand I’m mentioning my cluttered brain because I need to slow down and on the other, because I feel awful as to how my cluttered thinking has spilled out into other parts of my life. See this got a little crazy when a few weeks ago when a friend and I decided we would start a group that will read Common Prayer: A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals -which I’ve gone through in the past – as I’ve skimmed the pages and become reacquainted with the book I’ve realized how often I just speed through my morning prayer time, because I want to do it, but I’m running late and I have so much to do. Those are all good excuses but they are just that excuses. Tomorrow morning I will begin using the liturgy, meaning I will wake up earlier, read slowly, breathe deeply, pray slowly, and allow the spirit to take over my time with God, and as an added bonus, I’ll get to drink more coffee.

I hope you will spend more time with the one who created you. Soren Kierkegaard said, “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” I want to be changed, how about you?

Too Much Hatred For Me!

I’ll say there has been a lot going on in the news here lately!

Its safe to say I’m an old man stuck in a young mans body. I wake up every morning turn on my coffee pot, listen to NPR and prepare for the day. For the past week, I’ve been hesitant to turn on NPR because the news has been flooded with hatred.

I’ve been trying to understand and discern what my place is as a Christian in response to all that is going on in the world, especially the mass amounts of hatred I’ve seen over the past few days. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to preach in Cuba using Micah 6:8. I defined what it means to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

Justice comes from within and arises when groups of people who have been alienated from what within reason belongs to them, these groups envision change and seek dynamic alternatives to their change unjust conditions. When we see injustices we are called like Micah to do something. We must realize that justice is not for just us it is for everybody, it asks for us to deny our own self -interests and work together, truthfully critiquing the present unjust system and to evoke change. Doing justice is intertwined with loving-kindness as we seek to value all of human kind.

To love kindness does not come easily. Perhaps it is hard because loving kindness means that we must be vulnerable. It means we should love one another out of genuine concern and care and be willing to carry the burdens of other as our own. Weeping with and for those hurting around us, holding the hands of others so they will know they are not alone.

Walking humbly, means that we take our noses out of the air, not walk around with our shoulders slouched, stand upright and walk with great affirmation knowing that we have been called and equipped to do the work of Christ! It is realizing we can’t do anything on our own, paying attention to those around us, listening for Gods call through the cries of his people.

Some months ago in Cuba I defined Micah 6:8 as stated above, thinking that I had come to genuinely understand what it means to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God, well come to find out I was preparing myself to be able to make sense of all the hatred I was hear and see on my Facebook newsfeed.

Those of you who have decided to stick with hate rather than love, can I suggest you take all of the energy you use to hate others and do something that will help others. Do something that focuses on adequate housing, equal pay for all, food insecurity, quality childcare…you know something that will better a person!

Do justice, Love Kindness and Walk Humbly!

Just Read It. I Can’t Title It.

Y’all some times I really enjoy my work and some times I really struggle to know if I’m doing the right thing. Working with children is hard because you want the best of each of them and you want to see them succeed! This past year I’ve learned the stories of close to 30 kids in our After School Program, some of their stories are tough and full of pain, some of their stories are full of happiness and love, some their stories I don’t understand, and some of their stories I don’t know. It has been a hard year for me learning how to care of each child and their family and realizing that I can’t fix every situation.

I spent sometime this week reflecting on all I’ve experienced this past year as I’ve learned how to direct an After School Program that is bigger than anything I would have ever imagined or seen myself doing. About once or twice a week, while I’m having my morning cup of coffee (a necessity) and listening to NPR, I ask myself “whom are you advocating for?”… Today I figured out what I’ve been advocating for all year and will continue to advocate for! I advocate for children, I believe EVERY child should know that they are loved and cared about. I believe it is my job help parents know they are not alone and I want to help them in giving their child the best. I believe it is my job to listen to silly stories that make no sense at all. I believe it’s my job to help families that need assistance with food, heat, water, housing or clothing. Advocating means that I shouldn’t judge (even though, I do) I should try my best to help and heal. I believe it is OUR job to connect with those in our community and be change agents! I get to be a change agent through impacting the lives of children each day. I’m not bragging because I couldn’t do any of this without Gods calling, sending, blessing and strength!

In a sermon sometime ago I said that we shouldn’t be a voice for the voice less but a voice with the voice less…. so what? Well, if you really want to advocate for those issues that are important to you become a member of the system, you have to weep with the people, you have to pray with the people, you have to rejoice with the people, and most importantly you have to spend time with the people.

We all have things that are important to us and things we want to change. What is it? Get moving! What are you called to do? Who are you advocating for? Who are you sharing love with?

By the way, I seriously didn’t know what to title this post. Haha. 

Blessing and Sending

I preached this sermon on May 10th during morning worship. While I write everything I plan to say on paper, I never say everything and say things that aren’t on the paper.

Here’s the audio link: http://fbcsylva.com/podcast/blessing-and-sending-kelly-brown-5-10-2015/

This year we have set out to Love God, Love Others and Be Fearless. Meaning we will respond when God calls us, we will reach out to people in our community and beyond, and that we will be bold in our commitments to serve God and spread His love.

This past week I read an articled titled “Becoming a Green Light Church, Again” it talked about how churches must promote creativity amongst its members and encourage them to serve using their skills and gifts. I’d like to share with you a small excerpt from the article.

Dees (a person of faith) said to Jones:

“What happened to the church?!?“  

“What do you mean”, said Jones.

“The church used to be the source of much of the innovation and entrepreneurial work in the world. But, sometime in the 1970’s the church seems to have stopped trying to be creative and innovative with regard to healthcare, education and poverty. You gave that role up and lost your imagination. You abdicated creative imagination to corporate interests and other non-profits. Now, the church is seen as the yellow light and red light people. Rather than being people who imagine and improvise and encourage progress, the church appears to decelerate progress.”[1]

Lets be honest the church has a lot of work to do and it takes all of us to get it done. We need Indians and Chiefs, we need each other’s skills and gifts, and we need willing hearts and hands. We have to support our members and those in our community. We have to cultivate a sense of calling, passion and leadership among our members. One of my favorite quotes by Frederick Buechner says, The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

We HAVE to quip and bless congregation members to go out and do the work at which Christ has called them to. Today our adventure takes us to the Book of Acts, before we began reading together, I invite you to hear this scripture with your own calling and church in mind, reflect on how the church has supported you and nurtured your call.

(Read Acts 13:1-3)

Saul and Barnabas heard their call while they were engaged in worship at church and the entire congregation became a part of the experience. As a sign of approval and celebration: the church blessed them, laid hands on them, then in a prayerful and joyful spirit sent them out to serve.

Notice that the entire community became involved in the calling of Saul and Barnabas. A few weeks ago Jeff mentioned the word Koinonia, the word Koinonia isn’t just something we hear about at camp. It is modeled for us in Acts on several different occasions and we see it modeled in our own church. Koinonia is a transliterated Greek word, which means communion, joint participation or contributions; to share what one has in everything. It embodies what should happen within the fellowship and unity of the church.

We modeled what Koinonia means last week when we recognized Team Leaders who lead us in various capacities over the past year and welcomed new Team Leaders who will lead us over the course of the next year. Each Team Leader has skills and gifts that pertain to the area in which they lead. And, I would dare to say some feel a sense of calling and passion in the areas they lead.

We all have been called to something, for some of us we get to live out our calling everyday through our vocation. Some of us live out our calling through our service to others. Some of us live our calling through volunteer work. Some of us live out our calling by spending time. Some of us live out our calling through missions.  Okay, maybe you get what I’m saying here, we all live out our calling differently.

First we have to understand a few things about calling – see calling is tricky. Calling is hard to understand because it changes, it’s hard to know you’re called to something because; well God doesn’t yell at you or put it on a billboard. Sometimes you just fall into your calling, remember how Jesus called the disciples? They were just fishing, then he walked up to them and said, “Hey, would you like to go with me and see what happens…” and they went. I can’t authoritatively say I would have been convinced to leave my family, my job and all of my security to just go with some random that could only tell me he would make me fishers of men – what does that even mean? Fishers of men, huh? I can’t fish for people on the sidewalk – that would hurt, oh silly Jesus dude.

Perhaps is safe to say Jesus knew these fellas were good at fishing so he decided to maximize on that and Jesus spoke to them in a context fishermen would understand. My guess is these guys were good patient fishermen because I don’t enjoy sitting they’re, waiting, and waiting, and waiting, oh and waiting, and then waiting some more, then waiting again. AHHHH! The madness. Y’all, I’m a bit gullible too. I probably would have taken my fishing pole and tackle box. Ha. Perhaps, I can be bold here and say we live out our calling on a daily basis in some form whether we realize it or not.

Barbara Brown Taylor says this how we live out our faith and calling as we go through life. “To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger—these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life.”

So, for those of you who teach,

Those of you, who preach,

Those of you, who build,

Those of you, who sing,

Those of you, who draw,

Those of you, who visit,

Those of you lead,

Those of you, who paint,

Those of you, who care,

Those of you, who invent,

Those of you, who heal,

Those of you, who love,

Those of you, who counsel,

Those of you who…well, you know fill in the blank.

You have been called to do the work of Christ.

As the church we are all called to do a multitude of things and it will take all of us bringing our skills, gifts and passions to the table!

[1] Becoming a Green Light Church, Again (Wilson 2015)