Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Laurie TenHave-Chapman. I am an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination. I have served three parishes in 33 years of ministry. Presently I pastor the First Congregational Church of Rockford, United Church of Christ in Rockford, Michigan. I am blessed to be part of this church family that expects the Spirit to show up in our worship and outreach! We call the rare fifth Sunday of the month Change It Up Sunday. During the announcements at the beginning of the service I urge folks who are sitting in their usual places ( you know, the unofficial but religiously observed seating chart!) to move to another area of the sanctuary. This is a bigger deal than you might think! It reminds us that no one owns any one corner of our worship space. We remember that we serve a God who calls us to never get too settled in any one place and to be ready to make hospitable space for the stranger among us. (Check out Father Abraham in Genesis 12:1ff.)

church from Fremont

In addition to my rich community life at the church, I am blessed to be married to Garrett TenHave-Chapman, whom I met and married at the Chicago Theological Seminary. His ministry path diverted into the legal profession soon after seminary. He now serves folks who are deserving of disability benefits through the law firm he established, Solomon Law Firm, PLLC. We have four grown children who have made the joys in our life deeper and who have taught us humility and grace. We have happily called Michigan home since 1988.

True Confessions: I love Jesus. I love the Church. I love vibrant worship. I begin each worship service with this prayer: Holy Spirit, come!

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The Spiritual Angle to Our Day

+Each day dawns with a level of predictability and mystery. We have control over certain aspects to our schedule. But we’ve learned to expect curve balls that we may welcome or reject. How we respond to the day’s events is always our choice. As Christians, we look through the lens of faith. Am I willing to look for Christ’s presence at each juncture? Am I sharing with others how I’ve experienced His saving grace for yet another day?

In a homiletics course in seminary (a big word for preaching), we were taught that life teaches us. We preachers learn to always watch for stories that convey the heavenly to those of us bound by the earthly. These were called “life texts.” From seemingly mundane, ordinary details, we discern a meaning that offers abundant life. In sharing these stories, we preachers breathe life into the hearers. We pull back the veil on the visible to showcase how God is already at work. I have scraps of paper, dozens of partially used notebooks and now a burgeoning “notes” app on my phone to collect details of events that might serve as “life texts” for a weekly sermon. The story lands in different ways in different lives, always because of the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Our stories don’t belong to us. When something exciting or terrifying or exasperating happens to me I share that with others. There’s a take-away from each experience that has the power not only to change me but to change those around me. But it’s more than just passing along the name of a good worker who has completed a job for you in an impressive manner. I dig beneath the surface to find how the laborer has met God and how they carry that into their job site. How does my experience with a Christian carpet cleaner who tells me about how he met God in the premature death of his son, inform my faith? How can our exchange nurture both of our lives and maybe even that of others, especially those who haven’t met up with God lately?

Our responsibility as Christian believers is to PREACH LIFE. It’s not just for the paid worship leaders to do this. All of us who are part of the Church have the great privilege of looking at the spiritual angle to each day and sharing that with others. Preaching our lives doesn’t mean we get preachy! The Latin root for the word means we before-declare, we publicly proclaim or teach a religious message. What do you earnestly advocate that stems from a core conviction that the God of Jesus Christ is at work in your life? With whom and how do you share it? Where have you seen your testimony to God’s grace make all the difference to someone else in ways you never could have imagined? How will you preach your life today?

Join  me as we share our experiences of preaching our lives in a way that shines a light on the great activity of Christ among us!

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