Thursday, May 15, 2008

10 Things I Will Miss About H-Town

This Sunday will be my last sermon at SWC. There is no easy way around it--these sermons are hard to preach. Seminary didn't provide a class called "How to Preach Your Last Sermon". Sermons like this can't be taught. They must come from a heart that has been entangled in the lives of people for a period of time. They must flow from the mouth of a person who has wrestled with Scripture and how the word breaks into the present context of a congregation.

Below is a list of 10 things I will miss about H-Town. I'm going to do this Letterman-style:

10) A few thoughts on this image.

I have a love-hate relationship with Houston freeways. The hatred is that I am impatient and traffic seems to always start because crazy lunatics who get in my lane (aka--the fast lane), remain in the fast lane until they get 1/4 a mile from their exit, then they choose to slam on breaks while crossing 6 lanes of traffic--all this resulting in traffic.
However, I can say that I have tried to make the most of these moments. I keep a prayer list in my wallet that I pull out while on freeways. I know...this doesn't sound safe, but I look down, catch a name, and will spend a few moments praying for Christ to come into lives and circumstances. I often will use this time to make pastoral calls.
So, in a way, I've grown to tolerate traffic.
Enough said. :) I am leaving the land flowing with milk and honey. (Some of you are laughing thinking, "If the new Eden looks like West Texas, then I am petitioning God to change the heavenly landscape.")
8) Mexican Food
You name it: chicken fajitas at Lupe's, chicken chimichanga at Chuy's, combo burritos at Escalante's, quesadillas at Pappasitos, etc.
7) Cafe Grace
Our Wednesday's at SWC were all about the in-breaking of the Kingdom. I'm going to miss our neighbors, the conversations around tables, and watching Larry Watson teach/pastor every "stranger" that walked in the door.
6) Neighborhood
I love our neighbors. I'm going to miss Julian, Shareta, Jose, Darius, Arshawna, Lucky, Adriel and so many others. These neighbors have given new meaning to the Jesus-story.
5) Sunday Evening
Sunday night church isn't what it used to be...anywhere. For the most part, it is made up of the "mature." (I hesitate to use older and elderly.) :)
Two weeks a month I stood in front of a group of 25-40 people who have been attending Sunday night church for decades. They don't go because they feel they have too in order to be saved. They aren't there because skipping out would be disobedient. Instead, they are there because they are each other's family. They want to be together singing songs and praying prayers.
Two weeks a month I would preach to this group, but there lives preached louder than my words.
4) 242
In February of 2007 we started a new small group based on the principles in Acts 2:42. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday evening we would meet to pray, fellowship, break bread, and to discuss the teachings of Jesus. These people have become some of our life-long friends. We have cried over the deaths of parents. We have rejoiced over the birth of babies.
I have learned community through this group.
3) The SWC Shepherds
These are 4 men who have given their lives to this church. All 4 of them have been participating in the life of this church since before I was born. In no way is that written in a way to say they are old and aging, but that their commitment to what God is up to here is admirable. Dick pours his heart into the prayer luncheon every month. David is a fabulous teacher and is the best at a 2-minute thought. He is so concise with his words, yet God works through him with such power. Larry's baby is Cafe Grace. He is a man who lives every single day as if all he wants to do is to join in the in-breaking of the Kingdom. And Michael knows and practices the meaning of the table. I think his middle name is Eucharist.
2) Steve Sandifer
All one has to say about Sandifer is "31 years." He has been ministering at this church for 31 years. He has worn every hat one can imagine, and he has done so with great humility, compassion, and loyalty. He is "the king" of pastoral visits. I have learned so much from watching him at the bedsides of the sick, ailing, and dying. I am a better minister because of our partnership.
1) Steve Sargent
For 9 years, I've known Steve as a lover of people, a prayer warrior, and a friend. When I came to Houston, I knew that if SWC decided to search for a Youth Minister, Steve and Chelsie would thrive in this setting. Steve has the uncanny gift to love whoever is before him and he can pray...really pray. I enjoyed our year with the Sargent's and I'm grateful that this church...a place I have grown to love...will continue to be blessed by their hearts and ministry.


Anonymous said...

Wow, great post. I obviously don't know most of the people you talked about but I was blessed by the compassion of your words and the sincere love for which you clearly have for SWC and its people.

A great reminder for me right now. There is good all around me.

JENNY said...

Why were we not mentioned in the "10 things you will miss about H-Town"? haha! Totally kidding. Just wanted to give you a hard time, Josh. We will miss you guys so much!

Josh Ross said...

God is using you right where you are. I ejoyed our lunch on Monday.

Patience...just wait!

Topher said...

10 things I will miss when you leave...

1) Truitt
2) Kayci
3) Your house
4) Your pool
5) Free food at the rodeo
6) Your DVR
7) Your wife's meals
8) Your grill
9) Your truck
10) Freezing your underwear

Sorry, you didn't make the list. If it was a top 15 list, I'm sure you would have been in there. Haha.

brian said...

I have seen the phrase "In-breaking of the Kingdom many times." Could you tell me what it means? I must have missed something in my Sunday school classes.

Josh Ross said...

Chris T.,
Thanks for the humor. :)

Good question. For many years people have interpreted the Kingdom of God as the church--pure and simple. However, in doing this, we have strangled the power of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the reign of God--the reign that reminds each of us that God is working in places we could never imagine. For those of us feebly attempting to follow Jesus, it isn't just a matter of asking God to be where we are...but it is asking God to open our eyes to see what he is already doing in this world. I interpret "in-breaking" as the reign of God unleashing its' power in this world.

Ash, Kel & Ella said...

You'll be in our prayers on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

I'm not really sure how I found you on here, but somehow I did... You're so grown up!! :) I've heard so many wonderful things about you and your ministry through the years. Not that it means much, but I'm so very proud of you!!

brian said...

Still--all references to the kingdom of God before Pentecost is in the future tense and all references after Pentecost always uses either the past or present tense. I didn't follow your reasoning but never mind.

Josh Ross said...

Rene, great to hear from you. I loved hanging with Matt back in Feb.

I appreciate the conversation; however, I have to disagree with your assessment of the Kingdom of God in Scripture. I don't have the time to elaborate on the context of all of these passages, but there are a number of passages before Pentecost that speak of the Kingdom in the present tense.
--All of Matthew 13 is about stories in which Jesus begins, "The Kingdom of heaven is like..."
--Luke 17:20-21, "The Kingdom of God is among you."
--Matt. 3:2
--Matt.6:33, "Seek first his kindgom..."
--Matt.10:17, "The Kingdom of heaven has come near"
--Mark 1:15***
--And a number of other passage from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

The Kingdom is present with Jesus. More often than not, the "kingdom" in Scripture is in the "here and now." I see that to be true today as well.