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The Church that Richardson Needs

Posted by jklossner    0 Comment(s)    Add a Comment  comment-icon.png

This last week, as part of our yearly worship planning retreat, our Worship Team took some time to walk and drive the streets of Richardson. We learned about the new developments, all the construction, our schools and the community as a whole. As I listened to these reports and walked the neighborhoods around our church, a few questions came across my mind.

The first was this: What is the full picture we need to see as a church? Richardson is a place that is diverse, safe and increasingly becoming a central headquarters for many major national and international companies. Our school system is well known for phenomenal education, our neighborhoods and parks are safe and well cared for, and our job market is expanding. Richardson truly is a really good place to call home. Like any other place, there’s another side of this coin - one that poses some challenges for the city. Our school systems are so competitive that our youth struggle with anxiety and depression. Schools in and around Richardson have high poverty rates, pointing to a hard reality in some children's homes where education is not a primary focus. Our neighborhoods are wonderful, yet in the current housing market, many families are not able find a home that is affordable. Our job market continues to grow faster than improvements can be made to highway infrastructure.

These sorts of problems exist everywhere, but it led me to another question: Are we the church Richardson needs? As I look at the struggles inside and outside the walls of our church, I was filled with pride as I thought about the ways we are able to meet so many needs of our neighbors, and challenged by the reality that there is always more we can do.

As I walked the streets and neighborhoods, I prayed for each of you. For your families and the stresses that you face. And for your neighbors, that we might be people who stand beside all the broken so that God can make us whole.

The truth is, we are not saved from this world, we are saved with it. We are not the determiners of who God is gives grace and love to, because God makes no distinction or prequalification for this grace and love. If God doesn’t, why should we?

On Sunday we sang a song called “God of Justice,” and it has been stuck in my head all week:

Jesus, You have called us
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give
We must go live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

I believe the church that Richardson needs is one that responds to the needs, big and small; those easily seen, and those we must seek out in our community. This week, if you look for need and find ways to open your heart to compassion, I know that God will fill you up with joy, gratitude and faith as we work towards being the people that Christ calls us to be.

On Sunday, I’ll be wearing a jersey - I want to wear your favorite too! We are starting a two-week series called Strength and Weakness and we’ll be talking about how we might reframe those terms in a different way.

See you Sunday!


I want to make another plea for every household to make a pledge to our Annual Campaign. We still have more than 200 households who made a pledge last year that we have yet to hear from, and many others who have not pledged in the past who can help our church's ministry with a pledge commitment at whatever level you can give. It's so important, and without these commitments the kind of ministries we enjoy throughout the year will not be possible. Will you please make your gift today? Click here to do so. Our church has an amazing opportunity to be a blessing in this community but we need full participation for that to happen. Thanks in advance for what I trust will be a great response!


Disney: Facts and Fairytales

Posted by jklossner    0 Comment(s)    Add a Comment  comment-icon.png

I grew up with Cinderella telling me a “dream that you wish will come true.” Is that really true? Do I just have to wish for something in order for it to come into existence? I love Disney more than I care to admit, but I wonder if there is more to dreaming than wishful thinking… Sorry, Cinderella.

My older brother worked for Disney World for several years. In that time, I got to go the magical world that’s been created in Florida on a few different occasions. Here’s what I know about Disney World - it is truly magical. Every little detail has been pieced together so that the park is overflowing with happiness and fun at all times. Here’s what else I know - none of this happens by wishful thinking. It’s actually not magic at all. The culture that Disney has created with their staff in every capacity is that of radical hospitality. The people of Disney work in every possible way to make sure the experience is positive for those walking through the doors. It’s a mentality and a culture that holds the highest standards of hospitality.

Last week in worship, we talked about the dream for Access being a place that is radical in our invitation and hospitality. Yet, we know this will not come true just by merely wishing it into existence. We have to create a culture; we have to be committed to a high standard of welcoming. This is not to create magic, but something much more important – the hope of Jesus Christ. Our dream that we have been called to put into action is to be intentional around every corner with greeting those around us in a way that is representative of our mission statement “with OPEN hearts and OPEN minds, we welcome people FOR CHRIST…”

This is not solely the job of those on the welcoming team; it takes us all doing our part. It takes us all sharing the gospel inside as well as outside the walls of the church. When you walk into church this Sunday, ask yourself - what does it look like for me to welcome people for Christ this morning?

So here’s where I’ve come down on Cinderella:

Fact: In dreams, it is possible to loose your heartache. Not matter how your heart is grieving, there is always hope for a new day, and a new dream.
Fairytale: Dreams are not wishes; they are God’s constant whisper of hope. This hope comforts and challenges us to make the dreams a reality. This is what the Lord’s Prayer means when it says “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is through our active, responsive, and intentional work - not our wishful thinking - that we build a church and a community that resembles the kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God is not the Magic Kingdom; it is not built on magic, but on something of better substance that we can build our life on: hope. My favorite hymn says with confidence, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” May we stand, build, and welcome with that hope.

This Sunday we are going to keep dreaming and talk about being the church that the community of Richardson needs.

I’m so thankful for each of you, for the dreams this community is dreaming, and for the opportunity God has given to us to be part of it.

See you Sunday!


2018 Operating Budget
If we are going to be the church God dreams us to be, we need full participation. Not every household can give the same amount, but every household can give something. Each generation, our church invests in the present and the future. Our ability to do this is dependent upon the generous, voluntary support of each one of us. 



Commitment to the dream

Posted by jklossner    1 Comment(s)    Add a Comment  comment-icon.png

Aristotle once said, “Hope is a waking dream.” There is this rich connection between God’s hope and God’s dream for our lives and the world. Yet both take an active willingness to be part of the hope and part of the dream. This willingness comes from a commitment that must be made and re-made- to be so bold, faithful, or eager that we never let go of the dream and the hope that God has promise to us through this word ‘covenant.’

Last Sunday we talked about this world covenant and how it is connected to the dream God has for us. The covenant refers to a commitment or a promise that is made between two people. The covenant that God makes with creation is a binding agreement that God chooses to be bound to us; to always be connected and pursuing a relationship of love with us. It seems as though this is not just a commitment, but a dream that God has for us- that we be drawer closer. As the covenant suggests, we have to do our part, we have to live into the covenant.

One way we can do this in our faith is through living out the membership vows of The United Methodist Church. The vows say this:

“Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and put your whole trust in his grace?”
"As members of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness?"

These five words- prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness, encompass the different ways we live into this covenant and draw closer to God and our faith community. Prayer helps connect us to God and God’s will, and it helps strengthen the bonds of Christian community as people pray with and for each other.  Presence is an invitation to be exposed to the teachings of Christ and the church that impact and shape values, priorities, desires, expectations, and life direction. Gifts challenge us to invest in something larger than ourselves; to take what we have, connect it to the giving of others, and create something that will honor and glorify God.  Service is where we put ourselves on the line to do something — to be the body of Christ. Finally in our witness we praise, glorify and worship our God with not only our actions, but also our words.

What we find begins to happen as we live into this commitment is that not only does our faith strengthen, but the ability to see the dreams God has for us also strengthens. Growing in our faith clarifies the vision- we see more clearly the people God has called us to be, the church that our community needs, the loving support that we can give to each other, and the resilient faith that we can hold onto in the face of struggles.

For me this covenant with God and our church is worth following and worth rededicating my life to. I know there will be days when I fail or struggle to keep this commitment to the fullest, but I believe in a God of grace that wraps me in love and challenges me to remain faithful. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book called “Big Magic” and in it she says “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” 

Jeremiah 31 says: "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt…"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

What a hopeful and grace-filled covenant that we are God’s people! What does it look for us to commit to this covenant? How do we live with this covenant written on our hearts?

This Sunday we are going to continue to talk about the dreams God has for us and how we take part in them.

See you Sunday!


PS- In speaking about the ‘gifts’ piece of our membership vows, I want to invite you to participate in our Annual Campaign, which supports the operating ministries of the church. My prayer and dream is that every household in our church makes a pledge of commitment to Christ and the church for 2018. If we are going to be the church God dreams us to be, then we need full participation. Not every household can do the same amount, but every household can do something. I hope you will make your commitment today. We would like to receive your pledge before the end of January. To make your pledge online today, click here.