Back to “Believe” this Sunday

Hey Church Family,

This Sunday we’re reentering the gold mine that is the Gospel of John. There’s no richer book! Let’s meet and celebrate our treasure, Jesus, the architect and landlord of the cosmos. He owns us (we’re his treasure) — and every rock, tree, river and mountain.

Who haven’t you seen in a while at Valley?

By the way, think about who you haven’t seen on campus recently. Here’s our little challenge: Please call or text ‘em. Let ‘em know you notice they haven’t been around, and you want to see ‘em. Summer is coming and we’ll all be scattering. This Sunday is an important day for all our brothers and sisters to be in one place.

“Watch out! The landlord is here!”

Here’s a story about another landlord. Almost three years ago, on our daughter Anna’s 17th birthday, I took her back to our stomping grounds in the San Lorenzo Valley to stroll (literally and figuratively) down memory lane. The highlight was visiting our old home in the funky town of Ben Lomond. We loved our seven years in the Jacobson Lane house that was situated behind the large Greek Orthodox Church with the onion-shaped gold dome.

We didn’t want to disturb the new residents, so we had to be sneaky. Here’s a picture of Anna peaking over the back fence from the church parking lot at exactly 11:56 AM on that special June 6, 2020. (Shout out to Google Photos!)

The three windows on the second floor look out from what was Ethan’s bedroom. You can’t see Becky’s garden where she and the girls grew vegetables that the deer ate.

The house was charming in every way. It had beautiful hardwood floors, a big wood burning stove, and a swing set. There was only one not-so-charming aspect to the property: our landlord, Mr. W.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We loved Mr. W. He was a good man. He was a lawyer (but still a good man). But we also harbored more than a little fear of Mr. W. because he adored that house and insisted that we keep it in tiptop condition. No joke, he drafted an A-Z list for how to care for the house. And it literally went from A to Z, the first item started with A and the twenty-sixth letter started with Z. I wish I could remember the X word, but it’s lost in the mists of time.

Anyway, we never knew when Mr. W. was going to show up – or how. One day we heard stomping above our heads. “What in the world is up there?” We went out to investigate and there was Mr. W. marching around in work boots, sweeping the roof and cleaning the gutters.

Another time we walked outside and surprise, there was Mr. W. looking disapprovingly at the colored chalk drawings and hopscotch court that the kids had sketched on the redwood deck. (Don’t worry, it rinsed off easily.)

Sometimes we would get a glimpse of Mr. W. approaching the front door, and everyone went scurrying away, so as not to have to be the one who answered the door when the doorbell chimed (now ominously). I wanted to hide under the bed and let Becky deal with him but my manly pride wouldn’t allow that – at least not every time he made an appearance.

How would Yahweh visit his house?

Why do I tell you this? The Jews in Jesus’ day knew from the Prophets that Yahweh – the landlord of heaven and earth — promised to appear, clean out the spiritual gutters and reside with his people. The last of the writings Prophets said:

Mal. 3:1 (ESVS)   “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

The Prophets presented Yahweh’s coming in different aspects. He would comfort, but also confront. He would restore, but also refine with fire.

In the first century, Yahweh’s Word appeared alright, but not with a Mr. W.-like frown and loud stomping. In fact he was so mild that many didn’t even notice! He slipped through the door of his own house (on real human feet) and extended “grace” and spoke “truth” to all who welcomed him  — to all who were wilting under weights and bondages stemming from primordial and personal sin (John 1:17).

John 1:14 (ESVS) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…

God wills to be at home with us, and he will get what he wants. That’s his plan: to live with us – his believing children — in an environment that is purged of all division, sorrow, darkness and hate. He will dwell with his new covenant people in a creation that — although it can’t contain him — will nevertheless overflow with his own internal unity, joy, glory and love.

He himself bore the pain to forgive our sin. He paid the price to send the Spirit. He perseveres even today to make the creation a paradise again. Let’s praise him in person on Sunday and smile, hug, laugh, grieve and sing together.

You’ll meet Annie Sun

Our friend Annie Sun will give some of her testimony. Our crew had lunch with the Sun family a few weeks ago and as she talked, I thought, “Annie has to share this!” I really appreciate their family’s friendship and active participation in our church family. They quietly serve the Lord in a number of areas with a firmness, grace and good humor that never wavers.

Speaking of walking down memory lane, I was looking at old pictures and found this one of the Sun family from our Angel Breakfast at Christmas in 2015! From left to right, that’s Lee, Sierra, Annie and Abigail.

Now the girls are a few inches taller! SiuLin said, “How did those girls get so big?” Here’s how they look today.

One last important item.

Myrna Curtis’ Celebration of Life Service

We’re going to celebrate the life of our friend and sister Myrna Curtis on Saturday, May 27 at 1:30 PM. Here’s a picture from last August. She ran a great race and she’s enjoying a great rest before the great resurrection!

See you on Sunday!

For the One who will raise Myrna and all believers,