Communal Faith (by Elder Jeff Kataoka)

Frost on the windows, leaves turning gold and brown plus a permissible excuse to drink hot cocoa... November is a beautiful time of year for us Californians. It almost feels like we get to experience the seasons without having to fight serious frostbite!

For all the (little) seasonal changes we get to enjoy, we also get to enjoy a season of gatherings with friends and family. Thanksgiving for being thankful and Christmas for celebrating the birth of Jesus; I imagine most of us have foundational and core memories of these holidays from over the years. From as young as we can remember to as recent as last year, there are special and joy-filled memories, and I’m sure there are bitter and grief-filled memories too.

One of my hopes for us as a church during this time of year is that we would of course give thanks for the Lord’s many provisions over the past year as well as celebrate Jesus. I just want to add one thing though... That we would do so together. Reach out to one another, check-in with people brothers and sisters you haven’t talked with for a while, intentionally invite others out or over for a meal… because not only are the holidays a time for gatherings and celebrations, they’re also a difficult time for many and we need to be there for each other.

Looking at the early church in Acts, we have a great example of the potential for church community.

King David announces that God’s brilliance, creativity, goodness, and holiness are endlessly put on display in every facet of creation. Math, literature, science, music: the world around us isn’t some stoic mystery to be solved, but a loud, living broadcast that beckons us to see and enjoy God’s glory at every turn. That invites us to be constant learners and endlessly curious in response. Going to school, going to work, starting a new book, learning a new skill, taking on a project, training to face a new challenge…these all are not ends in themselves. I don’t learn to learn. I don’t work to work. I learn and I work as a means to align my heart, my whole self, with the true Reality of the universe. To see what’s Real. I enjoy it and look forward to it because, in some way, I’m about to discover anew how the heavens are declaring the glory of God.

Maybe if I told my 15 year-old self that truth, I still wouldn’t have appreciated school. Too often I don’t appreciate it now. But I’m learning to pray for the truth of Psalm 19 to overshadow all that my kids and I do. Instead of the pressure of progress and production, David points me to worship and rest. Instead of the frustration of a class or project that I don’t understand, the Holy Spirit opens my eyes to how big, mighty, and utterly ingenious God is. I don’t have to go back to school anymore. But I welcome being called back to reality.

By His Grace,
Elder Chris Wu