A Good Night's Sleep

Dear Church,

Last week Saturday night I slept well. I normally don’t sleep well.  If I get four hours of uninterrupted sleep, that’s a good night.  Anyway, last Saturday night I slept well.  It was the combination of cooler evenings and the fact that, by the grace of God and the presence of the body of Christ; we were able to install our new playground in five hours on Saturday.  This entire playground project had been keeping me up at night.  Were we going to have enough volunteers?  Were all the logistics of coordinating deliveries going to work out?  Were we going to have enough food on the day of installation?  Were the concrete posts set in the right place?  And as you know, all these concerns are legitimate for a normal project, but then add on top of it that I have absolutely zero construction skills and slightly more than zero patience.  In all honesty leading up to the day of installation, I really felt that it was easier to raise the nearly $50,000 for the project than it was to get 30 volunteers to give of a Saturday to install it.

When the sun came up last Saturday it gave us a picture perfect day for installation.  We had teachers, staff, parents and administrators from Family Life Christian Preschool & Day Care.  We had older members of the church who came out to watch and, if they couldn’t do the work, some even brought their grandsons to work in their place.  We had on loan a few of the best “able bodied men” from Oak Ridge Landscaping.  We also had First Church Trustees, members, and even a few recent visitors to our congregation come and help out.  While I normally prefer the menial tasks with these projects, like delivering tools and cleaning up the debris, I found myself on swing installation duty.  After 20 minutes, all four swings - two adult swings, and two infant swings - were securely fashioned in the playground.  I even had my son Willem test them.  He reports that they swing nicely.  By right around 1:00pm the entire playground, (except a missing piece and the wood chips), was installed and working properly.  It was a tremendous success.

Projects like this are more than the project itself.  It was wonderful to see newer members come out and make friendships by teaming up to install a slide or fill a hole with concrete.  It was great to see older members pull up chairs in the parking lot and just watch it all unfoldIt was community building to see folks stand around and laugh about being in a typical “Chicago crew” where one person is working and three people are drinking coffee and pointing.  And it was just amazing to see all that we were able to accomplish in just a few short hours.

I was reminded, as we were cleaning up and taking down tables, that so often it’s not about the final project, but more often it’s about the journey.  Sure it was great to have a new playground for our kids, but it is equally if not more important that we worked together the last three months to achieve this goal we had set out to accomplish.  And, like I preached last week, there is a curious relationship between our ability to carve out time to serve and our ability to hear the voice of God.  Just like when Luke tells us about Jesus’ baptism that there is a command to give our coats to those who have none and to do the same with our food, and then they all hear the voice of God.  When we give of our time to serve the needs of others or accomplish a project together, it’s then that perhaps we hear the voice of God more clearly.  I’m extremely thankful to everyone who came out for the entire day or just for a few hours to serve.  I hope sometime during your serving, perhaps you were able to hear the voice of God a little more clearly in your life.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Matt

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