I was not born in the mountains, but I do have an early memory of being in the mountains when I was probably four years old. I recall being on a snow-covered mountain with my mom and some of her friends or family members who were out for a ski day. I remember, because I recall seeing a ski jump, and overhearing a concerned conversation about someone’s jump that ended in a bad accident.
More to the point, when I was eight years old, my family moved from Las Vegas, where Mom had gotten a job with United Air Lines and remarried, to Colorado. On our way there, we drove through the Rocky Mountains, hauling a small trailer behind the station wagon, both loaded with our collection of furnishings and suitcases that constituted the whole of our possessions. In those days, of course, no one had seat belts in cars. My sister and I roamed the back end of the station wagon, which was our spot for the three-day trip. Usually we each had our own side, to prevent arguments. But going through the Rockies, we both gravitated to whichever side was privy to the best view of the mountains.
The trip up and down the steep ascents on the narrow, winding roads was a harrowing
but fascinating drive for my sister and me. Of course, we weren’t the ones having to navigate the switchbacks and the steep grades while keeping the trailer under control. We were free to peer out the windows over the edge of the mountain roads, imagining what might happen if we were to slip off the road and go careening down the mountainside through the trees. It was my first real introduction to the captivating and terrifying allure of the mountains.
For the next ten years, the mountains were my constant companion, the unchanging
certainty to the west, the silent, ever-vigilant sentinel standing guard over me while I grew up. We drove into the mountains for picnics or to visit an historical site that Mom wanted to investigate and wanted us to learn about. My Scout troop regularly camped in the mountains and our annual week-long hikes crossed the Continental Divide at least once during each of the yearly challenges of our stamina and training as outdoorsmen. Whether it was clambering over rocks with a friend from high school on a weekend campout, driving to an interesting restaurant in the foothills for a date, or peering out the window of the airplane as we lifted off from Stapleton airport over the front range on our way to visit Grandma, the mountains were always in my mind. It helped that they were also almost always in my view, since from my home (and nearly anywhere else I might travel in the Denver metro area), they were clearly and reassuringly visible to the west.
So it was a shock to my system when I came to Lawrence, Kansas as a young man, eager to begin my college education. When I awoke, and looked out my window, there were no mountains to the west to greet me. When I got disoriented trying to find my way around this new city, no quick glance would inform me if I was traveling north or south. My internal directional compass was missing its default setting.
Today I’m writing these words after a day of gentle driving (in not-so-gentle and far too densely packed traffic) into the Colorado Rockies, where we took a very short hike to a beautiful lake, only to be forced to turn around all too quickly, thanks to an impending and threatening storm. But a relaxed stop at a pastry shop in a small mountain town and a short stroll along the street with its shops allowed us some time to enjoy the smell of mountain air after a rain and the feel of being a little closer to a discovery of something that could take one’s breath away. By tomorrow, we’ll have changed the locale, but will still be in the same topographical genre–we’ll be exploring the Canadian Rockies and I’ll be asking the mountains there what they have to share with us that can open up God’s heart to us a little more.
I think that one of the reasons I love the mountains so much comes from a time when a friend of mine and I were hiking to the summit of a peak. As we made our way to the top, pausing to throw snowballs hastily made from the snowfields there above the tree line, I looked across the topmost ridge to a taller, massive peak just beyond the narrow valley that separated us from it. A huge granite face loomed there, just below its apex. I paused to contemplate this enormous prince of earth’s crust. Yet it was but one of thousands of peaks on this one small planet, orbiting a medium-sized star, in a single galaxy in the midst of an unfathomably vast universe. And suddenly, I felt very, very small.
That feeling of being small is of immense value, especially since our personal sense that we are so very, very important can blind us to reality, to the truth of what God has revealed, and even to the truth of what is right in front of us. Recognizing that we are quite small, quite weak, quite unable to bring about much that is lasting in this world, is not only a right way to think, it is actually quite freeing. For it is when we recognize our weakness that we are able to acknowledge how great God really is. If we also remember that this great and awesome God, who made these massive mountains, deeply and irrevocably loves us, then we are set for living the way God intended for us to live.
As we enter into this new season, I’d like to remind us of one crucial thing. We may be
very small, both as individual people and as a corporate group. Small, and relatively weak. But we are loved by a great and awesome God, who made the entirety of a nearly fourteen-billion-light-years-across universe so that we could have life on this small planet, with mountains for us to enjoy. His resources are unfathomable. His ability to take small things and do great things through them has been demonstrated over millennia in countless places with innumerable examples. He is well able to help us, and is permanently disposed in our favor. We can expect God’s power to be seen in this place, for our good, as Jesus Christ continues to do what he has promised us–to build his church, and to be in our midst when we gather in his name.
“Our help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
Looking with you for our help to the maker of the mountains, and the lover of our souls,
Pastor Barry, Senior Pastor
From the Trustees
At the end of the first six months of 2019, total expenses were $130,849 compared to total tithes and offerings of $130,518. The trustees of FCC are grateful for the faithful support that has been demonstrated by the congregation.
In the previous newsletter I reported that a lightning strike had caused considerable damage to electronic components of some systems including heating and air conditioning, security and fire alarm, and the sound system. Repairs have been ongoing and most systems are now up and running smoothly. The total repair bills will exceed $10,000. We have insurance that covers the loss but we will need to cover the $5,000 deductible. Thank you to Max Mayse who came over and checked out the organ. Fortunately, the organ was not damaged by the lightning.
I want to thank Pat Adams for her service as custodian for the last several months. Pat will be stepping down from that position at the end of August. Also, Sarah Johnson will be stepping down from cleaning the Giving Tree preschool area. We are seeking someone to fill both of these important part-time positions. If you know of someone who might be interested, they can contact the church office or me, Jim Congrove, at (785) 393-3106.
As reported above our tithes and offerings have covered operating expenses for the year. However, our building and facilities are aging and we are constantly seeing items that will need to be repaired in the near future. For example, the roof above the sanctuary will need to be repaired soon. We have bids from two roofing companies and it appears the cost will be $30,000 to $35,000. Doing this repair will take most of the funds set aside for building maintenance.
Jim Congrove, Trustee Chair
“With a voice of singing, declare ye this, and let it be heard:
“Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing power and
majesty, praise to the King.”
“Hear the bells ringing. They’re singing Christ is risen from
“How Great is our God! Sing with me: How Great is our
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul. Worship His holy
Sing like never before, O my soul; I’ll worship Your holy
Do any of these words bring to your mind the tunes of these songs? Over the past four months our choir or the worship team has sung them. It is a joy for me to be a part of our dedicated worship team and choir. In late August our choir will begin rehearsing on Thursday evenings. Please consider joining this fall to sing with us.
Have you met the newest member of our choir who began singing with us last November? Michael Shaw, a retired classics professor at KU, was visiting First Christian last November on a Sunday that the choir was singing. After the service he came to the Thanksgiving dinner and providentially sat beside my husband and me and asked if he could sing with our choir.
Michael had a memorable experience singing in his high school choir, and now as a retiree he desired to sing again in a group. We gladly welcomed him and he has been a valuable member of our choir and faithful participant at First Christian since then.
As a new-comer or long-time member, please consider joining our choir family to sing God’s praises! Contact Greg Boyle, Merry Nanne, or Judy Chadwick. We need both men and women.
Judy Chadwick, Pianist
Summer is a good time to eat lots of refreshingly delicious fruit. In FCC Kids, we have enjoyed learning about the Fruit of
the Spirit, and how God helps us produce these in our lives. We can LOVE other people even our enemies; experience JOY
even when we’re sad; feel PEACE even when things seem out of control; be PATIENT even when we feel anxious; spread
KINDNESS and GOODNESS to others because God has been so kind and good to us! To help remind us, our hallway wall upstairs has God’s vine growing these Fruit of the Spirit. We have been adding one each week. God blesses us in so many
A big THANK YOU to Sarah, Hope, Michelle and Kay for being willing to teach, help, and show
your love to these little souls during these chaotic summer months. You are a true blessing!
The Giving Tree Preschool
The hot July heat did not prevent The Giving Tree from enjoying a Wet and Wild week of summer camp. The activities helped to keep us cool in the Kansas weather as we explored the world of water throughout the week. Our camps provide an opportunity to welcome new friends to the Giving Tree as well as say goodbye to those moving onto kindergarten.
Thank you to Ms. Donna, Ms. Mikayla and Ms. Stephanie for helping to make our summer camps a success.
The Giving Tree staff is excited to begin a new school year serving the families of FCC and our community. Our parent informational meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 5th. School begins throughout the week of August 12th. We have a few openings still available for the 2019-2020 school year. If you have family or friends with preschool age children, please share the news of our wonderful preschool. Brochures are available in the Fellowship Hall with our contact information. The Giving Tree provides a faith-based environment to grow, explore, discover and promotes school readiness using fun and innovative techniques. Come check us out!
Julie Hafenstine, The Giving Tree Preschool Director
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!
Even though youth group has not met through the month of July, I wanted to give you an update and share some pictures with you of what we did in June. FCC Youth met through the month of June and then took a break for the rest of the summer.
The theme for our last two meetings was this scripture verse from Matthew 5:16. “Let you light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” We broke down the scripture verse, section by section, defining it in words that were meaningful to the students.
We then discussed how everything we do can shed a good light or a bad light for God. In other words, are we setting a good example for why people would want to join us as Christians?
We rounded out the evening by making T-Shirts that say SHINE ON (in glitter!) with the Let your light shine scripture verse on the back or front of the shirt, along with FCC YOUTH 2019. The students were very excited about the shirts. Even more so than I expected. I spoke briefly with a mom the next week and she shared how excited her kids were to get the shirts. There are a few regular attenders who were out of town that week but they have either gotten, or will get shirts as well.
At our last meeting for this school year, all of the students who attended surprised me by showing up in their SHINE ON shirts! During this meeting we watched the movie “Facing the Giants”; a movie about how a coach goes out of his way to share his faith and in so doing, changes the whole atmosphere of the school and ends up with a football team that wins the playoffs. It was really fun to watch the students reactions and how involved they got while watching. We had a short discussion afterword about sharing our faith with others.
Our question to you is: Are you letting your Light Shine for God! Overall, I would say it has been a good year for FCC Youth. We are small but mighty! The students are already excited about the coming school year. Stay tuned for announcements about future events for the 2019-20 school year.
I would also like to say, it has been my pleasure to serve as the Interim Youth Pastor for this school year. Love Kids; Love God; Love People!
Janice Wagner, Interim Youth Pastor