Mike Cope's blog

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My preaching year hasn't begun very well. This morning we're having everyone come to the front for communion. We do this about four times a year, and most people love the experience. So often when we take communion, we never interact with one another. It's as if we were in cubicles. It's more of an altar rather than a table (to borrow from the wonderful insights of John Mark Hicks in Come to the Table). On these Sundays, we're able to sing more, we actually see each other, pray for each other, greet each other, and bless each other. That's hard to pull off in such a large church, but I think most are deeply blessed. Anyway, to bring us to the table, I'm speaking on the image of pregnancy and childbirth. To get a glimpse of where this might go, read John 16:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, and Romans 8:22. A couple weeks ago I asked my assistant to find me a "really pregnant woman." "How pregnant?" Gina wanted to know. "REAL pregnant." So Gina talked to WK, who is due the second week of January with her first child. Then I crafted a sermon around an interaction on Sunday morning with WK. She came in Friday and we went through the Q & A part. As she left, I jokingly said, "You'll still be around Sunday, won't you?" She laughed and said, "Oh, yes. I just saw the doctor and he said there's no way I'll go into labor for another week." Then I went back to preparing my sermon on the suddenness and unpredictability of childbirth. You're way ahead of me, aren't you? Last night, just before a houseful of people came over, I got a call to tell me that WK was in labor and that she and her husband had gone to the hospital. So this morning I get to encourage people to receive the body and blood of Jesus in a spirit of watchful anticipation, knowing that the Lord could appear at any time. My sermon is in a bit of disarray, however, since I didn't pay enough attention to what the text had been saying all along! You don't know! I hope my attentiveness to scripture improves this year. Blessings on you in 2006. And for now, we welcome Highland's newest member: Casen Matthew K., who was born at 12:25 this morning.

19 Comments:

  • Mike -

    I'm sorry your "preaching year" hasn't started off at its best. I just read your scriptures here in my dad's little red leather NIV New Testament I keep here on my desk by the computer and had to laugh (just a bit) when I read John 16:22.

    Then I read John 16:21 and hoped you had read it, too. (First?).

    Either way - that's the perennial problem we have, isn't it, when we try to relay on "visual aids" and "graphics." Wonder if that ever happened to Jesus? You suppose? Or did he just rely on what he could actually see before him at the time and not some "pre-planned" visual effects.

    Oh well - maybe next year! (Was Casen the first baby born in Abilene this morning, this first day of a new year? That would be cool.)

    By Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews, at 1/01/2006 10:13:00 AM  

  • We had a visitor in class one night who said "God works in mischievous ways" instead of the saying that "God works in mysterious ways"... hmmm, sounds like it might be true!

    By Blogger That Girl, at 1/01/2006 11:06:00 AM  

  • Mike, WOW what a morning. I was sitting next to a woman who is pregnant and has cancer. Talk about covering the bases. Wonderful scripture and words that painted a picture better than any visual could. I have struggled with “joy” the last two years but this morning after your words I rolled up to share in communion and realized what true joy is, again. I must say that riding my bike across this land without a care in the world brought me much joy but it cannot hold a candle to the joy I shared this morning with God’s love. That is Christ and his people. I guess I will not need black-eyed peas today. Thanks for being true to God’s word.

    By Blogger Clint, at 1/01/2006 11:47:00 AM  

  • I think I'm going with the lectionary this year. My buddy in Dallas has done this for years and I keep saying I'm going to and I began today. I've always insisted that if you open the word, the Spirit will provide. I know he has because no other explanation will describe some recent sermons that were very ill-prepared until He got ahold of them. I like the Vanderbilt Lectionary page.

    http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/divinity/lectionary/

    Steve

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 1/01/2006 12:11:00 PM  

  • These Sunday mornings where we take communion at the front are always my favorites. It's especially a blessing to watch you and Diane serve and greet and bless together. That sight never ceases to bring a smile to my face. Nor does the sight of both of your boys sitting side by side in church. I'm blessed to be a part of your spiritual family.

    I'm so glad that my family made it home from Oklahoma (at 11 PM last night) so that we could celebrate the New Year with our precious Highland family.

    Love you!

    By Blogger Heather A, at 1/01/2006 12:45:00 PM  

  • Mike, we were late for church today and decided to sit in a completely different place than we usually do. What a blessing it was!!! We sat way in the back and saw people that we never see and witnessed God's kingdom at work. We sat behind that Martins and all their children...that was a blessing all by itself. The joy and the participation in this church family moved me to a different level in worship today. One of their boys suddenly seemed so excited and started pointing to someone a few rows away...trying to show his dad this person that he was so excited to see. His dad then nodded yes and he walked over to this older woman and they gave each other a huge hug. Such a kingdom moment. I watched an elder get up and hug someone who has been through so much. They hugged for a long time ...holding on to each other and crying. Again...a kingdom moment. My favorite Sundays are when we do communion this way. And Clint, you amaze me. You may feel like joy had been hard to find these past two years but have brought joy to so many others. You bring laughter and insight into every conversation we have. I wish you all could have had the view of the kingdom that I had today...too much to put on this blog.

    By Blogger julie, at 1/01/2006 01:04:00 PM  

  • Who knows what "babies" are being conceived right now. I for one have great big plans for September, just enough time to birth that baby. But you reminded me this morning that God may have other plans. I MUST put all my plans in His hands. They're there anyway.

    This has been a great day already. Thank you for the lesson today. I laughed so hard I cried at God's irony. And "Down Front" Sundays are so very special to all of us.

    We did get our black eyed peas, compliments of Cracker Barrel. In their store is a collection of angels. I was tempted to get the very pregnant angel for you. Might look odd in your office... Well, it's the thought that counts, I suppose.

    By Blogger Sarah_RN, at 1/01/2006 01:05:00 PM  

  • 25 minutes too late for the tax deduction!!!

    Congrats to the parents!

    EL

    By Blogger Eric Livingston, at 1/01/2006 01:10:00 PM  

  • What a great story, and how like God!

    By Blogger Amy, at 1/01/2006 01:28:00 PM  

  • Wow-I missed so much being at Highland this morning!! It has almost been a year since I have been a member-and what a blessed year it has been. I hate that I missed out on the communion service this morning-those are some of my favorite times there!!

    I love the way God works-don't you?! Be blessed this year-thanks again for allowing God to work through you...

    By Blogger Katherine, at 1/01/2006 02:26:00 PM  

  • Mike, do you ever listen to Derek Webb, like have you given his new CD "Mockingbird" a listen? I think you might like it if you haven't.

    By Blogger Mr. W, at 1/01/2006 02:35:00 PM  

  • sounds like God got the last laugh.
    Heather

    By Blogger wondering04, at 1/01/2006 03:58:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    I have heard about these "Down Front Sundays" through your blog and friends we know that attend Highland. I was wondering how you came about this idea...and how it's played out on these particular Sundays. I ask this because I'm in a new church plant where almost half the congregation is "new-to-church" people (not new Christian...new to the entire experience), so we're looking for ways to create a sense of community. Just by reading your comments this seems like it accomplishes the community feel.

    If it's alright with you, I'd really be interested in hearing how this got started. Thank you, Mike!

    By Blogger Josh, at 1/02/2006 09:43:00 AM  

  • Mike- I have been following your blog on an off since meeting you in St. Louis. Today I couldn't help myself, I had to comment.

    I must admit that I laughed a bit when I read your post. Isn't it funny how sometimes God wants us to do things differently than we plan to? As an employee of the church, it seems like God reminds me almost daily that He would like for me to forget my plan, and do things HIS way. Imagine that! What a concept....but wouldnt life be a lot easier if He would tell us ahead of time what the plan is? Maybe He could have given you a head's up that the baby was coming sooner than expected?

    It all comes down to faith, and trust, and being willing to adapt.

    I am sure that you did a great job with the lesson and that the point was still made...I just have to wonder what God wanted you (us) to learn in this situation?

    I'd like to invite you to my blog.

    www.talkingwithjcb.blogspot.com

    By Blogger Conni H., at 1/02/2006 10:02:00 AM  

  • I was wondering if you know whether or not you are related to a preacher in Tulsa by the name Richard Cope.

    By Blogger Christopher, at 1/02/2006 01:36:00 PM  

  • My preaching year didn't start off well, either. I was almost to the pulpit when a couple of elders jumped on me and wrestled me to the ground. They sentenced me to six months of nursery duty.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/02/2006 01:48:00 PM  

  • Christopher - I don't think I'm related to Richard Cope.

    Josh - We were influenced by working (as a worship committee) through John Mark Hick's book "Come to the Table." Great read. It takes a while for so many people to come to the front--especially when we're trying to pray, bless, greet, etc., at the same time. So it works better when we're at one service (which happens when ACU is out).

    Deana - That is a bummer. But seriously, you let a few elders hold you back? I doubt that a young mother can be restrained by just a few men! Nevertheless, be blessed in the nursery. (We may learn someday that the best preaching in the church actually happened IN the nursery!)

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/03/2006 08:22:00 AM  

  • I may be totally off-base, but I always pictured Deborah speaking to Israel under a palm tree while nursing a baby.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 1/03/2006 08:58:00 AM  

  • Hey Mike-

    We served communion in this way as well during our Christmas service. It was incredibly moving especially in light of us fellowshiping on the day we celbrate his birth. The room was electric with the excitement of the day and the wave of emotion as I went to take of the Lord's supper overwhelmed me. Who are we to be given such a gift, such an honor to partake of the body and blood of Christ as atonement for our sins, and then to have th "body" of Christ to share it with. All this to say "amen" to the blessing of communion in this way.

    Now for the lighter side....kind of. This week Sarah Lynn's parents are in town and were to help us by bringing our children to church with them later instead of us watching them while we set up, Sarah Lynn getting worship in order and myself unloading trailer, sound, singing, drums, whatever. Well Church is beginning and they are not here. They are just running late (my thought) until a guy from church says she had just called him and to call home immediately. (this is the best thing to hear as a parent especially when your wife is leading worship and you are also on the worship team that week) So I scramble off stage and call home with visions of split foreheads and blood bathed fireplaces to find out that they have accidently locked our (luckily sleeping) daughter in the car.

    Our preacher is out of town, I am in charge, chaos is breaking loose. Praise God for the body of Christ. Prayer was signaled, the spare key was found, and before I had to ask there was a volunteer to take the key to them. What a blessing we have in the body of Christ.

    This allowed left me to do the welcome, children's story, and communion meditation (SL's dad was supposed to do). But hey.....I had lots of material right.

    Matt Grubb

    By Blogger Matt, at 1/03/2006 05:46:00 PM  

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