This morning marked the first time that I had the opportunity to worship at Lakeview and I gotta tell ya, it was totally worth the wait. The church building is absolutely gorgeous. The sanctuary is beautiful (even if they do have pews which is an adjustment I am going to have to make) and the two worship services I attended were both powerful. The pastor is a very effective preacher and gets really emotional during her sermons which makes them all the more powerful. Yes, the pastor is a woman and so is the Associate Pastor and almost all of the staff there. It's refreshing to see a church that is run mostly by women and really signals a positive change in the Presbyterian Church. I've always preferred the company of women over men so that has made me feel much more comfortable walking into a brand-new, unknown space. I felt so welcomed and accepted there today. The pastor had me stand as she introduced me and made it clear that the staff were thrilled to have me there for the year. I'm an introvert so being introduced to so many new people in such a short span of time was really nerve-wracking but it worked out for me in the end. The pastor even mentioned me in her sermon!! How awesome is that!! Definitely satisfied my inner celebrity!! The services themselves were great and really touched on the themes of new beginnings (as today marked the beginning of the new Sunday School classes) and seeking out the lost. Earlier this week, a Chicago teenager in one of the public schools was shot to death. The pastor didn't know the child or anybody affiliated with him but she made it a point to mention him during the sermon to emphasize her point that violence and hatred are not God's way. I realize I am over-simplifying it here and that there was way more to her sermon than that but I think that was what stuck out the most for me. This week, we have seen a lot of hatred and bigotry on the news in relation to the 9/11 anniversary and it saddens me because that is not a Christian response. I know I'm getting political here again but I'm pretty sure Jesus wouldn't threaten to burn the Qu'ran or call all Muslims terrorists. At least, not the Jesus that I know and love. Anyway, at the beginning of the service, the pastor lit a candle in memory of the Chicago teenager that was killed this week and proceeded to say that she will light a candle every week for every Chicago youth that dies this school year. I hope that she doesn't have to light anymore but sadly I fear she will. It saddens and sickens me that she even has to do it at all. Needless to say, both services were incredibly powerful and I really felt like I fit in there. After the 11:00 service, the church hosted a rally on the lawn for new-comers to learn about all the different organizations and committees that they can get involved with at Lakeview. Yours truly committed to help with the newsletter (because I really miss using my journalism background) and attend the Young Adult Bible Study. They're trying to recruit me for the choir but I resisted. I just don't want to get over-involved and burn out. I think between my official duties there plus Bible Study and the newsletter that that is more than enough for me right now. I'm really making an effort to make this living in intentional community thing work and that requires me not to be super busy and gone all the time. It's hard but it's worth it. I admit to having some reservations about working at Lakeview when I found out that they didn't have a youth group or a bell choir (two of my favorite activities at my church back home). I had a very long conversation with God and definitely questioned if this was going to be the right fit for me. I really wanted to do youth ministry and work with a youth group. I knew that is where my gifts lie.I definitely wasn't sure what I would be doing or how I could use my gifts but I have realized now that Lakeview Presbyterian Church is actually the perfect place for me at this point in my spiritual journey. It's allowing me to develop and strengthen other gifts that I haven't been using and it is allowing me to explore the realm of urban ministry which is something I have zero experience with. I guess God really knew what he was doing, after all!! Funny how that works sometimes!! I now have no doubts or questions and really feel that God put me in this place and at this church for a reason. I still don't have all the answers as to why but I have a better idea now than I did two months ago.
That's all for today's edition. Tomorrow we have our very first community day and I will fill you in on what that is after it is over. Also, the postal service here is sketchy and apparently doesn't want to deliver mail to me so from now on, use the following address to send me anything:
425 S. Central Park Avenue
Chicago, IL 60624
I still can't guarantee that I will get it but you may increase your chances!! Also, thanks for the recipes you have sent me so far. Last night marked the first time I have ever cooked for more than one person and it went really well. I made cheese enchiladas with spanish rice and they tasted great!! I am so proud of myself and already looking forward to cooking again. I think I really can handle this whole growing up business!! Who'da thunk it??!!