“Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you.”
In art, a focal point is the element in a painting or a photograph that pulls in the viewer’s eye. The artist points us to the center of attention or the main subject. The focal point draws you through the picture’s composition, through color, and through the range of tones used. Artists may use color to help us see the focal point in pictures…such as a single red apple among many green apples. Other times the photographer may use the aperture of the camera to bring specific items into focus while other items are fuzzy. And then there are the great artists who are subtle with focal points. A great example is the painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. As the name implies, Vermeer uses a pearl earring for a focal point that subtly draws the eye but is not blatantly obvious.
God is an artist who works in similar ways. The Master Artist paints through scripture, tradition, reason and experience. God gives us some very clear focal points at times – who God is, who we are, and how we are called to work with God in the world. But God also creates other focal points that are right there in front of us but require a little more spiritual awareness to see. All of God’s focal points are central identifying ways we understand God and ourselves. Ultimately, all of God’s focal points point us toward love and grace.
On August 3, 2014, I begin preaching at Chapelwood UMC in Houston, Texas. Focal Points will be our first sermon series together as we explore the central themes God has for our lives and our ministry together. I am hopeful that focusing on the central tenets of our faith and looking at how God works in the world will lay a solid foundation for our journey together.
Some members of Chapelwood have asked me, “Are you here yet? Is your family with you? Are they settling in okay?” The answer is yes! We moved to Houston in early June. I have been hard at work in July spending time with the staff of Chapelwood, experiencing our worshiping communities, surprising a few Bible studies and Sunday school classes, and visiting a few folks. We are settling into our new home and our girls are making friends and staying busy. Your prayers and words of excitement and support mean more to us than you can know. Chapelwood is an amazing community of faith (but I’m sure you already knew that).
Recently, I visited with a beautiful and encouraging woman named Marty Schroff. In our visit together, I was so encouraged by her spirit and her joy. As I was leaving, I asked Marty, “What can I do for you?” Her answer humbled me. In over 20 years of ministry, I can honestly say no one ever answered that question the way Marty did. Her response served as the focal point of our time together. She said, “Just BE, LIVE, and PREACH LOVE!”
I promised her I would…and I promise you I will.
Through the calm and chaos,