Today all my family went to my brother’s church to hear him preach his first sermon. All of us. We haven’t been in one place together since January, maybe December. Sam did a terrific job on the sermon; it was convicting and powerful. The church was wrapping up a sermon series on ‘Heroes and Villains of the Bible’ and Sam spoke on Adam and Eve and the masks we all wear.
(There is a picture of all of us siblings together but none of us like it–sorry, Mom–so I’m not sharing.)
Rounded out the day with quality time with my nephew! Aunt life is the best.
As the oldest of five children, I’m used to doing things first. People meet me first. I get involved in activities first. It is part of who I am. When my siblings come, they are “Amy’s siblings.”
The older I get, however, the less this is the case. Nowhere is this more apparent than where my family goes to church. All my family is super involved and my Mom works there. Maybe I am now better known than the brother who lives an hour and a half away. But for the most part, I’m Anna/Bethany/Elijah’s older sister or the missing eldest daughter of my parents.
Today my Mom needed an extra volunteer so I filled in. It was entertaining. I look like my Mom; I don’t look that much like her. But people still did a double take when they saw me. Uncertain smiles, hesitant nods as if trying to place me.
One lady I’d never seen before exclaimed, “You look so much like your Mom! It threw me off.”
Another lady inquired after my Dad. My Dad? Or my grandpa? Who knows!
And so, though I go to church regularly when I’m home, I slip into my uncertain role as the Family Member No One Quite Knows.
As a speed reader, I think one of my greatest weaknesses comes from how fast I digest information. No sooner have I read something worth chewing over than I’ve moved on to something else. So, when I find an author who forces me to stop and ponder, I value that author immensely.
C.S. Lewis has always been one of those authors. I picked up The Weight of Glory, which is a sermon he wrote, about three weeks ago and have yet to get any farther than the first paragraph. There is just so much to unpack. Here is how it starts:
“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love.”
If you haven’t read the sermon already, I highly recommend checking it out and reading along with me! It is 9 pages long and available as a pdf here.
My final days in Thailand left me feeling very loved by my church family.
It wasn’t necessarily anything specific…
Shopping, laughter, extra messages asking when I’m leaving or what my last days looked like.
But they made me feel loved and seen. I even got a shout out in church.
And though there isn’t a lot I would say I miss about Thailand, my church there is definitely one thing.
I cannot imagine the last few months without them. They became my family. ❤
As someone who grew up in the church, I consider myself pretty comfortable around the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve heard sermons about it. I’ve recited it countless times. Like many passages, I easily quote it without really thinking about it. But yesterday the pastor at the church I attend here in Bangkok made a few points about the Lord’s prayer that I never really heard before. One in particular stuck out.
For those less familiar with the passage, the prayer comes from Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13 when he instructed his disciplines on prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.
The phrase that really popped out to me from my pastor’s preaching was the “your kingdom come” part. Previously when I heard those words, I assumed they only meant something along the lines of, “Come back faster, Jesus!”
But my Pastor pointed out that God’s kingdom resides in us through the Holy Spirit. Thus, “your kingdom come” is also a call to action. God, your kingdom come. Send your people. Be moving and working in us!
In fact, the broader sermon discussed how the Lord’s Prayer goes hand in hand with the Armor of God. I don’t think I can do adequate justice to the subject, but it really got me thinking because the Armor of God is another part of the Bible I easily glaze by. But if we’re truly asking God to send us, we should be armoring up!
Especially lately, I often feel like my frustrations with Thailand keep snowballing into bigger and bigger drama where I just throw up my hands up in exasperation and count the days till I get to go home. But you know, there is one area where I have no frustration and only gratitude. One area I probably don’t talk about enough on this blog: my church family.
I am so grateful for my spiritual family at Calvary Baptist Church in Bangkok. They’ve been my strength, support, and encouragement this semester. From opening my eyes to the plights of the countless refugees in Thailand to filling my Wednesday night with laughter and fellowship, this church has served as a rock in an often stormy and confusing environment.
I’m often inclined to make sweeping statements like, “I only have 3 friends in Bangkok.” Which is true if I look at the students I connected with at school. But if you look at the people I see every Sunday and Wednesday, the people I talk and laugh and eat with, the people who get me out of my apartment and out of my head, I must have easily 3 dozen friends!
I have friends from the Philippines, from Vietnam, from China, from Japan, from Australia. Friends from the U.S. and, yes, even from Thailand! I am so blessed to have had these last three months with them. I will miss their fellowship more than anything when I leave.
It is easy for me to focus on the negatives: a taxi driver who ripped me off, a class presentation gone wrong, the perpetual stink of sewer in the air. But woven throughout my experience this semester, God’s love came pouring out through His church. I cannot imagine this experience out them. And I cannot wait for the day when every tongue, every tribe, and every nation will gather and we will experience even better fellowship for all eternity.
Happy (Belated) Resurrection Sunday, everyone! I got back late Friday night from Krabi and discovered I had a presentation due Saturday morning. For better or worse, after staying up late finishing it, I showed up to class and the professor decided to cancel all presentations.
On Sunday I attended a pot luck at my church. I brought root beer and Doritos, thinking it a fitting American combination. This was a mistake. The non-native English speakers couldn’t get past the word “beer” in “root beer.” I kept trying to explain it was soda, but no one believed me! Half the group refused to try it and the other half furtively shoved cans in their respective backpacks and purses without making eye contact.
I convinced my friend Sunny to take a sip and after the teeniest of swallows, she announced: “Bitter beer!”
Which was, of course, the nail in the coffin.
The pastor and his wife are from Texas and found the whole thing hilarious. To the rest of the church, however, I am the girl who brought two cases of beer to the Southern Baptist church potluck.
(Potluck being another confusing English phrase, half the church confusing it with “jackpot” and assuming some form of gambling.)