The Experience Tells Their Story

This week our high school choir, The Experience, is on tour going across West Virginia and Ohio. While it is indeed a choir tour, it would be a disservice to the mission of the group, to “Tell The Story,” and simply leave it at that. The story of we share is the story of God’s unrelenting love for us. Much of the music we sing on this tour speaks of this unconditional love and that even when we screw up or focus on things that take us away from Christ, His love for us is fierce. That in our brokenness, God is present and making something beautiful out of our lives. Not only is he with us, but so are our friends. We know that through our lives, God is making an impact on our peers and those around us. At night, our students stay in host homes. One of the unsung benefits that host homes provide is an opportunity to share their story with strangers. These students have stories to tell and this blog is their story.

“when I was growing up, I didn’t really understand much about the church. I mean, it was like okay, well yay God and stuff but I didn’t really enjoy getting up each Sunday to get on “nice” clothes and go to church for, well, almost all day. But as I began growing up, I put myself out there more in the church, just because I like doing that, but as I learned more about my faith, I realized that God was really calling me to do these things, and through these small involvements here and there, I really became closer to God and the people around me. By the time I got confirmed, I really enjoyed going to church, so much so that my parents had to ask me to stay home after a late night. When I joined The Experience, it was a huge thing that allowed me to come closer to God, and I try to attend almost every youth event so that I can grow closer to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and well as to come closer in my faith in God.”

“I grew up at Christ Lutheran and my family has always been involved in the church. However, through middle school I was just going through the motions of going to Sunday school. I didn’t have a solid foundation for my faith, and without a strong foundation, I struggled to build and strengthen my relationship with God.  It was through Christ Lutheran that I became involved in the TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) youth program/ TEC retreats and found my solid foundation. This encouraged me to get more involved in The Experience and Sunday school because I wanted to keep growing my faith and building my relationships with the friends I had made. One of my favorite parts about Christ Lutheran is it is a space where I can build relationships with other kids who also want to be close to God and involved in the church. My high school experience would have been incredibly different without the church in my life and without the friends I have made, and I am so blessed and thankful to have grown up at Christ Lutheran Church.”

“I have always been involved in church. Being raised in the faith and supported by my parents has fostered a strong foundation for the rest of my life. Growing up this way has resulted in me lacking a sort of dazzling coming to faith story that a lot of my peers have experienced. For years I thought this meant my faith was in some way less special or important than theirs. Things like The Experience and Teens Encounter Christ have helped open my eyes to the fact that my faith story isn’t less special than theirs, just different. God has been able to use my strong foundation to help others experience those coming to faith stories, and realizing that this is a way God has used me as a disciple makes me eager to learn what he has in plan for me in the future, working as his hands and feet in a broken world.”

“My faith story…… God has brought me through so much as a teenager that there is no way anyone can convince me there is no God. I was so angry when the Lord took my Grandmother. She was my rock and my confidant. When I was down and had no one else to turn to, she was there. After a while I realized that He wanted to be that for me. He had to show me that He would always be that for me even when people didn’t care. God also showed me that he will put people directly in your life to remind you of your purpose. No matter who I thought my friends were, he showed me who my true friends were and I thank him everyday for that because without that support system I wouldn’t be where I am today. His love is truly fierce and that is why I love telling his story to others so they can experience the change in their lives as I have mine.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these are the stories of your high schoolers. Believe me, they have a lot to say! We look forward to sharing our story with you this Sunday as for our homemcoming show. These students are defying the odds and bearing with one another in Christ (Ephesians 4:2). After the show, I invite you to come forward to ask the students about their trip. They have been telling the story across the country and they look forward to sharing their story with you.

See you Sunday!

Ryan Carter
High School Youth Director

Psalms in the Summer

“Their voice goes through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:4)

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 53:1)

“Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!” (Psalm 117:1)

Can you guess what the Psalm verses above have in common? Perhaps there is more than one answer. The commonality I’m thinking of is that all three are quoted in the New Testament book, Romans. To see, take a look at Romans 10:18, 3:10, and 15:11 respectively.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote the Epistle (or Letter) to the Romans, drew on the Old Testament book of Psalms repeatedly. He quotes 16 different Psalms in Romans alone! It’s not surprising when you remember that Paul, a devout Jew, would have sang, read, studied, and memorized the Psalms since he was a wee little boy. The Psalms were for Paul, like Jesus, his book of prayer. He lived and breathed these mighty and powerful expressions of faith!

This summer at Christ Lutheran, our Sermon Series follows the book of Romans. We do so to celebrate the rallying cry of the Reformation, “Faith Alone!” The gift of abundant and eternal life in Christ comes to us entirely by trusting in God. Romans is Paul’s clear explanation of what it means for us to have access to salvation through Christ. His letter, again and again, draws inspiration from the Psalms.

So, in addition to reading Romans this summer, I want to invite you to join me in a practice called Psalms in the Summer. I’ve done this for several years now. The practice is simple. Read one Psalm per day. Most Psalms can be read in five minutes or less. I encourage you to read it slowly. See if a word or phrase captures your heart, your imagination, your attention. Then, share with God why this phrase or word spoke to you. That’s it. If you forget which Psalm you’re “on”, it’s OK. Pick up where you think you left off and continue.

In doing so, you’ll be reading and praying the same words as Paul. As Jesus. And the Holy Spirit has a good track record of using these words to connect people to God.

Praise the LORD!

Pastor Drew

To see a list of Psalm quotations in the New Testament, click here

I’m Sad…

I am sad.  I’m grieving for the people of England who have endured recent terrorist attacks.  And not just England, but the people of Belgium, Germany, France, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, Egypt, and many African countries, who have also suffered attacks.

I’m sad, hurting for the people who, because of senseless acts, have lost people they love.

I’m sad that I can’t do more to stop it.

I’m sad that some people feel killing others will somehow bring them satisfaction, joy, or reward.

God tells us in the fifth commandment that we shall not kill.  Martin Luther takes this commandment even farther in his Small Catechism, saying, “We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need [in every need and danger of life and body].”

I’m sad…until I remember that I have a confirmation interview this afternoon.  We may discuss this commandment, or others.  We’ll talk about the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles Creed.  I’ll get to hear about his faith story.  We’ll talk about doubts and fears, about God and where he sees God at work in others, what he’s learned, what he hopes to learn about God…

This interview will boost my spirits, as they all do.  I’ll be reminded that, while I cannot single-handedly bring peace to all parts of the world, I CAN help share God’s peace with a confirmand, with his family, with people in my community, with people in my church, within my own family, and within my heart.

I’ll promote peace in ways that I can, and trust and pray that God will help bring peace in ways that only He can.

Peace to each of you,

Pastor Tenny

Quillows…Again!

This morning at staff meeting we had a very brief but meaningful blessing of the Quillows.  These are quilts individually made for our graduates that are folded into pillows (hence, Quillows).  This Sunday, June 4th, we will once again wrap them around the shoulders of our high school graduates as we send them along the next step of their journey with our prayers and blessings.

Each of us on staff hugged two or three Quillows and took our turn naming these students by name and saying a prayer on their behalf.  These aren’t faceless names on the back page of a graduation bulletin.  These are kids that we know, we’ve had in class, we’ve gone on retreats together, we’ve eaten in their homes, we’ve watched them grow, we’ve seen them succeed and in some cases, fail.  These are our kids.

Some of the quilts have the colors and symbols of their college.  Some are decorated with their favorite sport or hobby.  Some are a collage of their favorite t-shirts. And others just reflect their personalities with vibrant colors and bold images.  But each one is made uniquely with love.

We send out these grads not only with our prayers but also with the foundation of faith that they have received through years of confirmation and Sunday School classes, worship and retreats, youth groups and small groups.  These are young men and women of faith that have a word to speak to a world that desperately needs hope that only God can provide.

Be strong.  Be faithful.  Be courageous.

When the prophet Jeremiah was sent out at a young age, God said to him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.” 

I only wish that we could have sent Jeremiah out with the mantel of a Quillow, the prayers of this congregation and the knowledge that this God is with him forever.

Congratulations to all of our graduates!  May you go forth, bold in the Lord.

Peace,

Pastor Scott

 

Use Your Direct Line to God

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When I was a little kid, I envied my buddy who had the coolest invention in the history of my youth.  NOTE, you’ve got to remember that I grew up in a time when cell phones didn’t line everyone’s pocket/purse.  We were only loosely attached to each other by postal mail, phone calls, or even…gasp… talking to each other face to face.  But my buddy – I think he must have been rich or something – had a set of Fisher Price Sky Talker Walkie Talkies.  They were the latest new invention (at least in my 7 year old mind) from the great science giant Radio Shack – where everything cool and sciencey used to come from.  Apparently his parents got them for him for Christmas or something – either way, I was a little jealous.  Ok a lot.  But he was willing to share them with me, which was, of course, Awesomeness (note the capital “A”).

In a world and culture where we now can call someone, (via video chat even!), on the opposite side of the globe was Jetson’s family kinda stuff back then.  It was in movies and Star Trek, but nothing came close to being tangible for a 7 year old except for the unique, mysterious power of the Fisher Price Sky Talker Walkie Talkie!

These things were amazing.  You could literally be in your room and talk to your buddy all the way over in his room in HIS house.  CRAZY.  But we weren’t done there.  On the handset itself was Morse Code!  So you could talk in code and no one would be the wiser!  Those days were special.  My buddy and I spent hours on those things.  Yep.  I was a nerdy kid.  We talked CONSTANTLY – until the batteries ran out.  Again, though, nothing a quick trip to Radio Shack couldn’t fix…

NOW we know the reality is that we DON’T have to have a special device or code to talk to God. There’s no weird beepy code you have to learn to talk to God, no special device (however cool that would be) you have to buy.  God walks with us in the midst of our chaos and our peace, our joy and our frustrations, in our light and in our darkness.  I am not sure that we can ever hear that enough.  Our God is with us, carrying us even, and expects that we will talk freely, anytime, all the time.

As I write that, though, I realize that there are some of you reading this saying, great Pastor, but 1. I don’t think I want to talk to God and 2. Even if I did, I have no idea what I would say. I get it. Really, I do. Talking to God can be intimidating.  I mean, if we think about the gravity of that conversation with the Lord of all creation, it probably should be. But God knows that.  God knows that you’re frustrated.  God knows that you want encouragement.  God even knows the prayers you have before you can speak them.  So be encouraged to give it a shot.  Talk to God.  If you’re angry, tell God.  If you’re joyful, tell God.  If you’re thankful, tell God.  If you’re broken and can’t even for the words for how sad you are, God can handle it.  And don’t hold back.  One of my favorite scenes is in Forrest Gump when Lt. Dan “talks” to God in the storm.  It wasn’t pleasant, or sweet necessarily, but it was thorough and opened lines of communication that needed to be opened.  

Try, this week, thinking about carrying around a walkie talkie with a direct line to God. What might you need to say to God today?  What’s on your heart and mind that you need to release?  Perhaps even, what is God saying to you? Scripture calls us to pray without ceasing, so maybe just start with breathing. That’s right, just breathe and let the Spirit intercede for you in sighs too deep for words.  Whatever or however you do it, know that you have an open audience with the God of all creation – who WANTS to hear from you!  So pray on and don’t hold back.

God, for some reason you care to listen to us and call us to talk to you.  While we may never understand that, you still pursue us and call us by name.  Thank you for loving us beyond ourselves and meeting us in the midst of the anything and everything we go through!

Peace,

Pastor Matt

FUEL!

What is FUEL?  If you have been around any of the high school youth at Christ Lutheran or Christ South, you may have heard that word.  It is the name given to the high school youth ministry.  It is the name of one youth group driven by the four letters that make up the word FUEL.  It is the word, thanks to Ryan Carter, my partner in ministry, the youth at Christ Lutheran have started to grasp a hold of.  It is the word that the youth at Christ South are starting to hear and that has created a strong yearning to be a part of this group.  It is simply FUEL for Christ Youth.  As for the four letters that make up the word, we have created an acronym  and we want you to know what is it.

F stands for Fellowship in God’s world; building a community of believers.

U stands for Understanding God’s world.  God created this world for a certain purpose and we want youth to understand what that is.

E stands for Experiencing God’s world.  The world he wants for us is different in ways than the one we live in.

L stands for Leading in God’s world.  We are called to be disciples in this world.  How do we help shape the world around us?

 

Along with the word FUEL, we have focused on two Bible verses that we hope the youth will grasp a hold of to help them understand how important a role they play in God’s world and in our church.  The first is 1st Timonthy 4:12 which says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity”.  The second verse is Jeremiah 20:9 which says “His word burns in my heart like a fire.  It is like a fire in my bones.  I cannot hold it in any longer.”  The first verse is  focused on youth; Ryan and I want the youth to know above all else that youth can make a huge impact in this world.  They can be examples when they walk the hallways of their schools, working at their jobs or just hanging with their friends.  God has given a gift to each one of them.  As for the second verse, we want youth to understand that since they were born, their has been a fire in their heart and it has grown throughout the years; we hope that fire now becomes a fire that is burning not only in their hearts, but in everything they do.  We have a great group of high school youth between Christ Lutheran and Christ South and we know that God has great plans for all of them;  one youth group centered on Christ. They are FUEL for us all!

In Christ,

Jeff Taylor
Christ South Youth Director

 

A New Kind of Mother’s Day

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.  Galatians 3:26 (NIV)

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.  Psalm 42:1 (NLT)

This is the first mother’s day I will celebrate as a mother of three!  Three! I can’t believe it. The thought of having three boys is still unreal to me. I NEVER thought that I would have a 16 year old, 11 year old and a newborn.  Life is different with each of them and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Each of my boys are in totally different stages of life. One minute I hear, “Mom, can you take me driving so I get more hours towards my driver’s license.”  The next I hear, “Mom, can you can you help me with a school project that’s due tomorrow.”  All the while the new baby is crying and wanting to be fed. The boys come to me for different reasons and seem to need me in different ways as they grow. I am both taxi-mom and diaper-changing-mom at the same time. As my boys grow, our relationship will continue to grow and change. They will continue to need me but in different ways as well.

Now, I realize that not all of us have a mother in our lives, and some struggle a great deal with that relationship, but I pray that you have a mothering person in your life that nurtures you and is there when you need someone. Even at forty, I still need my mother. She is the one I turn to when I have a problem and just need someone to listen to me. She is the one that when I have a good day I want to call and tell her all about it. And she is the person that encourages me in everything I do. Our relationship has changed over my life but she has always been a strong rock in my life.

As my relationship with my mother has changed as I have gotten older, my relationship with God has also changed as I have aged. When I was young I looked to God to provide for my instruction, to give me those ethical guidelines to follow. As I grew, I looked towards God for direction in my life and my vocation. Now, I rely on God as a stronghold when life gets difficult. My relationship with God is my foundation when the storms of life are swirling around me. Even though our relationship has changed and I need God in different ways there is one thing that has stayed the same, God is there for me. And God is here for you too!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Pastor Melody

Alexa, What’s News?

Every morning as I’m making my first cup of coffee, I call over to our Echo device on the kitchen counter and ask, “Alexa, what’s news?”  Immediately I begin to hear the latest events happening around the world.

When I first press the button on my iPhone in the morning, I can see a listing of the “Top Stories.”  Generally, the headlines are like these:

  • “…U.S. Needs a Government Shutdown”
  • “Mother Of All Bombs (MOAB) Dropped on Afghanistan”
  • “FBI Translator Goes Rogue, Marries ISIS Terrorist”
  • “Woman Found Dead Inside Home”
  • “Abused Infant Dies”

I just did a search of headline news.  There are very few uplifting, positive, stories.

Imagine if, after asking, “Alexa, what’s news?,” we would hear a story like this…

Dead Man Rises

Local sources say that the man put to death by Roman authorities has risen from the dead, despite hanging on a cross for hours, having his side pierced, and being pronounced dead.  Witnesses claim that the man appeared to them outside the grave-site, along Emmaus Road, and among a gathering of his closest friends.

The man, called Jesus, the Christ, surprised them at each appearance.  No one expected anything like this to happen, even though it was proclaimed in the Scriptures. Jesus reminded them what the Scriptures said, “…the Christ is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”  After quoting scripture, He told them, “And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised…” (Luke 24:45-49)

Forgiveness of sins proclaimed to everyone.  Wow!  Thanks, Alexa, for sharing some good news for a change!

Peace and blessings to each of you,

Pastor Tenny

Nah… it ain’t me babe.

So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”   Exodus 3:10-12

I love me some Bobby Dylan.  I do.  Times they are a Changin’, Blowin in the Wind, All Along the Watchtower…FORMATIVE stuff for me as a song writer.  I love the honesty, chord changes, and punch they had both as a political and life commentary.  He’s right up there for me with Cash, Willie, Waylon, Michael Jackson, Vedder, Ben Gibbard and The National.  Yeah, I realize I skipped a lot in there, but I’m writing a blog and not a dissertation.  But one of my favorite lines he sang was nah nah nah, it ain’t me babe.

 

Go ‘way from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’s never weak but always strong
To protect you an’ defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

It’s so easy to say, right?  A neighbor had a tree fall down and sent a group text this week asking for some help to cut it up, and it would have been so easy to say, nah, it ain’t me babe.  It’s raining, I’m tired and I just smoked some chicken wings on the grill.  It ain’t me babe.  Or when that friend asks you to help them move, you know?  When are you moving?  Yeah, I am out of town then.  It ain’t me babe.  Or maybe when God calls you into service, to help with the proclamation of the gospel – in whatever level of commitment or context that is…. nah nah nah, it ain’t me babe…   Who’s with me on this?  It’s so much easier to just sing along with good ole Bobby Dylan.

Sometimes it’s laziness, I get that, but sometimes God calls us and we think, how could I possibly serve in that way?  The tugging, the burning in our spirit, the call from the pastor or staff, or whatever it is for us yields that same old response because WE DON’T THINK WE’VE GOT IT IN US to do that thing we’ve been called to do.  Who’s with me now?  (Maybe God’s got you reading this on purpose?)

I am not qualified, I am not stable enough, or maybe even I am not good enough to serve.  Who would ever want to listen to me preach, serve alongside me, or let me walk with them through their addiction, pain or sadness knowing what they know about me?  Nah, it ain’t me babe.

But here’s the thing.  Not one person in all of Scripture was perfectly and immediately equipped for ministry – most of whom changed the world for the sake of the Gospel.  (One could make the case for Jesus, you know, being God and all… but even Jesus spent time in the temple studying the scriptures.  Moving on…)  So, then, given that, who are we to say it ain’t me babe when God is is the one calling?  What if God is calling you to do ministry BECAUSE of who you are and who you’ve been?  Perhaps God already knows your gifts and challenges and lead you up out of that place so that you could speak directly those IN THE PIT STILL?

Serving in ministry – in ALL contexts and commitment levels – is a LIFE BLESSING.  It’s something we GET to do rather then something we’ve GOT to do.  As soon as we let go of that unqualified part of who we are, and let God take over, we GET to see great blessing through service.

And perhaps the best part of it all is that God NEVER abandons us.  Jesus said, I will be with you always, to the end of the age. (Matt 28:20)!!  That’s power right there!  That’s where our confidence comes from!  That’s where the words will flow from!  That’s the strength on which we can rely and the rock on which we can stand.  Jesus is with YOU.  So serve!  Find a place where your gifts match the church’s needs, and quit saying it ain’t me babe, because it is precisely YOU that God is looking for!  And when we fail in our work and we look to God for help, God’s response is YES, I WILL be with you, carry you, and uphold you through it!

This church and this congregation need great leaders and volunteers in order to work, sure, but even more, it’s a blessing to GET to see what God is constantly doing through people who for a very long time said, nah nah nah, it ain’t me babe.  It ain’t me your looking for babe.  Moses said it too, so you’ll be in pretty good company.  Just sayin…

+Pastor Matt

(email me if you’re up for a servant blessing)

Lord, make me a disciple.  One who is crazy enough to be redefined in you.  Call us Lord, and equip us for the journey and blessing of ministry in your church! Amen.

What a Great Celebration!

I love Easter Weekend.

I love being with those young children receiving their first communion on Maundy Thursday.  With great eagerness and anticipation, they have been waiting their whole lives to come to the Lord’s table

I love Good Friday with the darkening of the sanctuary, symbolic of sin’s presence in this world and God’s response to it on the cross.

I love the Saturday Easter Egg Hunt at Christ South with upwards to 1000 people showing up at Polo Ridge Elementary School.  It took three trips to the store for more eggs!

And what’s not to love about Easter morning?  The large gathering of the people, the beautifully decorated sanctuary, the triumphant music, the greatest story ever told and even donut holes in the Lower Commons.

I love Easter Weekend.  Would you please comment below what was your favorite part?

This year, our attendance surpassed last year’s by almost 15%!

Sonrise:                   75

Traditional             637

The Bridge            354

Christ South          168

Contemporary      1031

Total                    2265

And what’s more, since we have been using Facebook Live for worship viewing, our site has blown up with an additional 821 watching on-line there and 768 watching the livestream from the website…and that’s on Easter Sunday!  On Good Friday, 796 watched on Facebook Live and 207 from the website.

Did I tell you I love Easter?

Thank you for a wonderful place, filled with the Spirit, to celebrate the gift of the Resurrection.  Surely, God is in the place, changing lives with the message of hope and grace.

He Is Risen!

He Is Risen, Indeed!

Pastor Scott

Resurrection Tractor

Resurrection Tractor

The last time it ran was about 15 years ago, and it was in desperate need of repair.  So, many years ago, Dad started to take our 1941 John Deere tractor apart, to refurbish it.  But he had not been able to complete the restoration.  So, last August, we brought it from Ohio to North Carolina and began the restoration process.  Several people spent many hours working on it.  Now it looks like a new tractor.  In fact, I think this 76-year-old tractor is better than new, and should last well beyond my lifetime!

It has been restored to a condition that many of us thought could never happen.  It was so far gone, that some didn’t believe it could be restored.  How could anything so far gone, possibly be resurrected?

Sometimes we may feel that our lives are like that broken tractor.  We may feel so old, so worn, rusted, or unworthy, that nothing could possibly restore us.  But Scripture tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As Easter approaches, let us remember all that God does for us, through Jesus.  And let us celebrate the joy of the resurrection that we are promised, knowing that Jesus takes all of our dirt, our rust, and our greasy sins upon Himself.  He died on the cross, and rose on Easter, so that we might be made whole, made new, made clean—resurrected—to live eternally with our Father, who is in heaven.

There are resurrection stories all around us.  Open our eyes that we may see…and believe.

Easter Blessings!

Pastor Tenny

 

 

 

 

 

Cut the Net!

A basketball net is nothing but a tangle of nylon rope. Twisted into 12 loops. Hardly anything special, right? Not by a long shot. A basketball net is an eye witness to some of the greatest sports events ever. A basketball net can produce what some people consider the world’s single greatest sound…“swish.” A piece of a basketball net is more than a snippet of rope…it’s the ultimate prize.

Last night, I watched along with many of you as players from the UNC men’s basketball team cut the net in Phoenix, Arizona after defeating Gonzaga to win the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball championship. Cutting the net is a tradition that goes back to 1947, begun by NC State coach Everett Case. Players and coaches cut the net after winning a big game to have a piece of…the victory. A piece of…the memory. A piece of…the redemption.

“Redemption” is the word being used to describe this year’s championship game. That’s because in 2016 UNC lost the championship game by a single shot to Villanova. Whether you are a UNC fan or not, it would be hard not to respect a group of college kids who, after losing the biggest sports game of their lives, returned to win the very next year. Redemption. They cut the net.

After experiencing failure, so often the world sends messages like: “You had your chance.” “Give it up.” “Tough luck.” Basketball, like other sports, reminds me that failure is a part of life. In 1993, as cancer was consuming his body, North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano gave one of the greatest speeches of all time. Often referred to as the “Don’t Give Up” speech, Valvano said, “To me, there are three things we all should do every day of our life,” Valvano said. “Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two, think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, be it happiness or joy.” He also encouraged listeners with those memorable words, “Don’t Ever Give Up.”

Redemption is a word that means “the act of saving or being saved.” As we at Christ Lutheran journey closer to Holy Week, we prepare to celebrate the ultimate act of redemption. Christ’s death on the cross for you and for me. What first appeared to be the ultimate defeat on the hillside of Calvary led to the ultimate victory—God’s love overcoming sin, death, and the grave Easter morning. We are redeemed. God’s love never gives up on us. Jesus Christ has won the ultimate victory and has given us the spoils. Cut the net!

Redeemed with you,

Pastor Drew