Christmas by Heart

Happy New Year! I know that sounds weird but it’s true. The Christian calendar starts every year with the season of Advent. Advent is a season of waiting and preparation as we anxiously await the coming of the Messiah. This year in CREW we’ll be practicing the preparation that Advent is all about by learning to tell Jesus’s Birth Narrative from Luke 2 by heart. Memorizing an entire chapter of the Bible seems like a really daunting task. So, luckily that’s not the task ahead of us in the next two weeks. Instead of memorizing the exact words from a specific translation, we’ll be focusing on simply telling the story.

For almost 1500 years, scripture was passed down orally (that is people would speak while others listened). This was partly because most people simply couldn’t read and partly because the production of Bibles was an extremely expensive undertaking until the invention of the printing press just 500 years ago. So, over the next two weeks we’re going to take a small section of scripture and transform it back into the same sort of thing people 2000 years ago might have experienced as they waited for the coming Messiah.

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9th & 10th Commandments: Unholy Desires

“You shall not Covet”

What does this mean?

“We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors to get their things for ourselves. Instead we should be of help and service to them in keeping what is theirs and urge them fulfill their responsibilities.”

-Martin Luther, Small Catechism


The 9th and 10th commandments are very similar. They both have the same first four words: You shall not covet. Last Sunday, Pastor Mike said that to covet meant to have a jealous desire of something or someone else. Jealousy is when we want something or someone so badly that it can lead to us resenting anyone else who has what we want. The desire part of coveting comes in when we want something so badly for ourselves that we will try to get it no matter the cost.

Coveting happens when we begin to feel that life is a zero sum game. That is, in order for one person to get ahead, someone else has to fall behind. When coveting shows up in our own lives it usually feels like, “my life is hurt when your life goes well.” When we covet other people’s things and lives, it begins to minimize our own blessings and maximize other people’s blessings. Social Media can create a space where we compare our blooper reel to other people’s highlight reels.

What effect can it have on us to compare the messy parts of our own lives to the best parts of other people’s lives? Continue reading

8th Commandment: Truth Telling

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

What does this mean?

“We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.”

-Martin Luther, The Small Catechism


The eigth commandment is traditionally applied in the court of law. It stands for justice and fairness in the eyes of God. As with the other commandments, this seems like a basic rule, why should it have to be reiterated? As people, many things can get in the way of justice such as prejudice, wanting to fit in, or self-interest.

The eighth commandment isn’t just about the abstract idea of a court of law, or even limited to parents or teachers trying to figure out what happened in a specific situation. Times when we are tempted to break the 8th commandment rear their ugly heads throughout our everyday life. This is especially evident when it comes to name calling and rumors. To better understand what I’m talking about, I’d like to tell you a story about my own time in middle school. Continue reading

7th Commandment – Property Rights

“You shall not steal.”

What is this or what does this mean?

“We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.”

-Martin Luther, The Small Catechism


Throughout the world and across cultural and political boundaries almost every single group of humans has some sort of rule about stealing. If this is so standard throughout the world, why would God need to go out of the way to remind us of this simple rule?

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5th Commandment: The Sanctity of Life

“You shall not murder.”

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.

-Martin Luther, The Small Catechism


On it’s face this commandment seems fairly easy to follow. Most people don’t think they would ever be able to kill someone else. But when we explore what this commandment really means, we reveal a more nuanced idea. The 5th commandment means that all of life is sacred, including Human life. This means that animals are also covered by this commandment. A better understanding of this commandment might be, “Do no harm to another.” We are called to help life flourish around us.

We violate the 5th commandment when we refuse to help someone in need. To understand this better we looked at The Parable of The Good Samaritan (found in Luke 10:30-35) and examined which characters in the story may have broken the 5th commandment.

   

 We also had a special guest join us from the Blank Park Zoo. We took a trip around the world with the help of our zoo guide and some animal friends. We learned about animals, plants and conservation issues from different habitats in this challenging, inquiry-based program.

Walk 4 Water Concert and LOCK-IN!!!

This week instead of our normal Sunday night meeting, we actually met on Saturday Night for a Lock-in. We kicked off the night at 6pm at Faith Lutheran Church where we met up with several other churches from throughout central Iowa for an event featuring the Walk-4-Water campaign, Agape, Rachel Kurtz, and Joe Davis.

The event started with a .1 mile journey through the basement carrying 5 gal water jugs (weighing 40 lbs!) to simulate the 3.7 miles that the average woman in sub-Saharan Africa must walk to retrieve water for her family. On the journey we had to walk through simulated flood waters, stand in the heat, learn about water born illnesses, and follow the perilous journey of an individual who doesn’t have enough water. After sweating our way through the Walk-4-Water track, we moved into the sanctuary where we witnessed an awesome concert!


  
  


Then we headed back to the church for a night full of Gargon, Hypotherables, and The Magic School Bus (seriously, that’s the netfilx movie the youth picked out). It was a great night and it all culminated in us attending the 10am Contemporary worship together.

4th Commandment: Honoring Parents

“Honor your mother and father.”

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we niether despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.

-Martin Luther, The Small Catechism


This is the first commandment that deals with interpersonal relationships. It is many mom and dad’s favorite commandment, and it seems like it gets used just to keep kids in-line. But this isn’t the only place in all the Bible where there are references to the relationships between parents and children. In fact these sorts of passages exist all over both the old and new testaments.

So why do you think the Bible puts so much emphasis on how we interact with our parents? Continue reading

Mario Kart Battle and Shape Shifting

Mario Kart

Tonight’s theme was Fellowship. We had an awesome time playing some new games that Nora came up with. We started off the night upstairs with a great free-for-all, real life Mario Kart Battle. Unlike the video game, where the balloons are attached to a kart, tonight we tied balloons to our ankles and tried to pop everyone else’s balloons. We played a few free-for-all rounds, a couple of team rounds, and finally the boss level. For the final round we set a chair in the center of the room, tied one balloon to everyone, and made sure everyone was touching the chair before we started. Check out the chaos below!


After some ridiculous fun upstairs, we moved down to the lower level of the DC for some team building. For this activity we split the group in two and blindfolded half of them. Then the team that wasn’t blindfolded was shown a shape, letter, or state. They then had to arrange the blindfolded group into that shape. What a great night of team building and fun!

3rd Commandment: Sabbath Worship

“Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

What does this mean?

“We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear it.”

-Martin Luther, The Small Catechism


For some of us, when we hear the third commandment, we can almost hear God in our heads (sometimes in a voice that sounds surprisingly like our parents) saying, “You are going to go to church every week, and your are going to like it!” In many of our busy lives this can come as yet another crazy expectation piled on to our already overflowing plates. We can easily forget that God is not just another coach or teacher who doesn’t realize that we already have a lot going on. Instead, when God tells us to remember the Sabbath, God is telling us to take a step back, rest, relax, and spend some time with God. Therefore, Sabbath is when we consciously take a break to seek God’s presence.

In order to better understand our need for rest, let’s take a look at at the life of Phillip, a middle school boy who has aspirations of playing high school sports, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout in his local Boy Scout troop, and getting into college.  As we read this story I want you to keep track of the blessings that Phillip has been given by God.

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Feeding the Hungry: Salvation Army Casseroles

Last Sunday the High School Youth of Eikon worked together to make 16 breakfast casseroles and 4 dozen hard boiled eggs to help feed the homeless here in Des Moines. The casseroles will go to the Salvation Army Food Truck which hits the streets every Tuesday and Friday morning. To learn more about the Food Truck ministry of the Salvation Army, and to see how you could make your own casseroles, CLICK HERE.

Check out all how all the action went down in the pictures below: