It is Monday morning and I am back in Wilmore. Sue and Ana are in Colorado Springs where they can look down our street to see a fresh covering of snow on Pikes Peak. For our Colorado friends, that sight is all too normal. But our Kentucky friends will find a bit of awe in seeing the beauty of God's backyard. Happy Monday to all!
Some of you will remember the Mama's and the Papa's and the song Monday Monday. Others will hear John, Michelle, Denny and Cass as just another list of strange first names.
For those who know the tune, you will remember that the "preacher likes the cold...he knows I'm gonna stay." It is a story about a Monday morning journey that finds a lost soul stopping by a church to find shelter. We don't hear the end of the story to find out if the preacher was pleased with the encounter or if a conversation every even took place. We just know that the church became a place of refuge.
My lasting encounter with the church didn't happen on a Monday morning but it was definitely a place of refuge. In my journey, the church shifted from a place to be avoided at all cost to a loving home were hope and transformation had been waiting all the time.
It started at the First Methodist Church in Golden, Colorado where my parents attended and were I was confirmed. My confirmation commitment didn't last long. In fact, I physically, spiritually, and emotionally left the church the evening of my confirmation banquet. From the ripe old age of 13, through the turbulence of teenage years, on into young adulthood...I was an active and intentional non-believer. I was an "evangelistic" atheist with a mission of discovering personal identity through the lens of the contemporary self-actualization and the life style of a mental health professional.
Then came March 22, 1975 when Sue and I were married in a small ceremony at my parents home. Things changed! We left the mental health community and set out on our own to find the world. We actually found it (the whole world!) in a small town on the Eastern plains of Colorado. The 'city' of Genoa came on our radar. Little did we know that Genoa would become our new residence and our life long spiritual home.
In good mid-70's tradition (read: left over 60's) we sold everything and started over. We bought a building in downtown Genoa on the corner of Main and Kunkle Streets and started a new life. 'Monday Monday' was catching up with us!
Our building became the home of 'Jessen's Sunshine Market' (name after Sunshine On My Shoulders by John Denver). The back of the Main and Kunkle property provided a small living area while the second floor featured a 60 X 60 hard wood floor ballroom. Rumor has it that Glenn Miller (from the University of Colorado) and his big band played in the Genoa ballroom years ago! It was a beautiful building even though the roof leaked a bit. As it turns out, all 'Monday Monday' experiences require a reasonable amount of unexpected water!
Ultimately, we found spiritual water and the joy of new life through the ministry of the Genoa United Methodist Church that was just down the street on Main past the Post Office. It became our home and the epicenter for an earth shaking transformation. God had been preparing the way!
It was the first Sunday after Easter when we entered the doors of the Genoa church. I remember looking around thinking that everyone knew I did not qualify to be present of Sunday morning. I could read their minds...I knew that they knew that my motives were not pure. I was searching for something but my mind was focused on feeding my family by inviting people to buy bread and mile at the Sunshine Market. We needed to make a living and these people were potential customers. I didn't realize that they were seeing me in a different light. They didn't see the customer relations staff from the Sunshine Market down the street, they saw someone who just needed to be loved. So they did. They loved us right into the Kingdom! We owe our lives to the Lord and to the Christian community at the end of Main Street in Genoa, Colorado!
It all happened fairly fast from that point. Commitments were made, the waters of baptism were applied, and the journey began. The first stop included a quick trip to Metropolitan State College to finish my undergraduate degree. Step two called for a move to a place called Wilmore Kentucky were we spent three formational years at Asbury Theological Seminary. Step three (these are big steps) provided an encounter with Bishop Melvin Wheatley who appointed us to serve at the Fort Mogran United Methodist Church where we would test drive our faith, enthusiasm, and life journey with a wonderful group of young people.
From there it was on to Longs Peak UMC in Longmont, nine years in Broomfield, service at First UMC in Colorado Springs, and then back to Wilmore to serve as the Dean of the Beeson International Center on the Asbury campus. Now the journey continues as we prepare to serve the people of the Wilson United Methodist Church.
The church is still our refuge. It is still the call of God that motivates our foot steps. And it all started (if you don't count the eternal journey of previent grace) with a little group of ultra loving people at the end of Main Street in Genoa, Colorado.
The Monday Monday theme might leave you wondering when it comes to "don't trust that day" ... for Sue and I ... Monday Monday is always a day to trust, discover, and grow under the loving guidance of the Lord.
How's your Monday going?