A Holiday Story

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A 10-year-old me descended the steps of my childhood home on Christmas morning. I raced around the corner where the stairway met the walls of the dining and living rooms—and there it was. Under the tree, emblazoned with a gigantic bow, was the sparkling glow of a metallic red painted Huffy BMX bicycle.
With murdered-out black tires and spoked wheels, I dreamed about all the wheelies I’d do around our small-town neighborhood. I envisioned myself cascading off plywood ramps and jumping street curbs to avoid the cracks on the old sidewalks. Jesse Orosco, Rolando Roomes, and a couple of clothespins would provide my rumble as I rolled through the streets of Jamestown. I’d race the tractor-trailers through town and slam on the pedals in the gravel parking lot behind my house, only to peel out and do it all again. One, two, three, four, five streaks in the ground-up rocks.
One. Day. That’s all I got with my ruby red beauty.
It turns out there are plenty of people in a town of 1,500 individuals who would love the spectacle of a red bike. Our not-so-secure carport wasn’t enough to deter the thieves and their need for speed Huffy provided. And just like that, she was gone. If December 25, 1990 was the greatest day of my childhood, then December 26, 1990 was the certainly the saddest. It was back to the junkyard to pick parts off old bikes to create cyborgs with no souls.
The joy of receiving that red bike was exhilarating. The sadness of realizing it was gone left me empty. As children, we experience the world through a unique lens. We feel joy and sadness through seemingly little things, and the emotional response our little minds create can stick with us for a long time. My experience as a kid led me to relish in the receiving of material things. I think a lot of people can relate to this.
When I think of this story from my childhood, it serves as a reminder that Christmas is about much more than the exchange of material gifts. This is when we celebrate the end of the waiting. This is when we see what God’s been up to. This is when we receive Jesus as His plan to reconcile all things.
Our family is excited to celebrate Jesus’ birth with Echo Church this holiday season. Thank you for being part of our church family.

Take care.

The Waiting

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That expanse of existence
That feels eternal
Where normal rationale ceases
As time ever increases
Seemingly without end
—You can only ask when

When is it time?
When will it arrive?
When will my dream be realized?

You hold hope inside
Like a vapor you cannot see
Your dream is but a mist

This dream remains unformed
in the real world
No shape does it take
It exists only in your mind
Safely in your mind
No one else can see inside your mind
So no one can reject your dream
—That vision only you can see
Your dream is safe inside 

For if you speak it aloud
Whispered or proud
The dream begins to shape 

Then the longing and hoping
The waiting and wondering
The praying and asking
Becomes a type of vulnerability
You cannot escape 

Once spoken
Your dream is released
Out in the world
It’s set free
From the safety of your mind 

Once stated, alas
The vapor of hope
The dream in the mist
Hardens into glass
Smooth and light
Sharp and defined
Reflecting all of you
In every surface 

Now you hold it
Most preciously
Your dream
A fragile piece of you
That everyone can see 

You wait.

There’s risk
People know
They see it resting in your grasp
Each day that’s passed
They watch you gasp
Holding in your breath 

It’s delicate
That dream
That fulfillment you wait to see
So fragile
One quick move
It shatters—
scatters on the floor
—that glass
A million sparkling shards
Glinting up at you

Everyone stares
They’re fully aware
As your soul is laid bare
The disappointment of your dream
The hope that once held such a gleam
Now lies broken your feet 

The waiting is no more
All those questions when
The time arrived—
It came and went 

But it never achieved
The heights
The lights
The pinnacle
All this dream was meant to fulfill
Now it seems it never will

The waiting ended
Disappointment interrupts
And takes hope’s place

So now—you must decide
Do you run and hide?
Or take full strides
Toward a new dream?
No one else can decide  

It’s you
Your choice
Your dream
In something bigger than it seems
Yet it may be
Worth hoping again 

But this time
What before had lacked
Was someone else to help the slack
For something else was given back
Into your trembling hands

His hope takes new shape
None before has seen
His hope has a purpose
None before has been 
His hope is both solid
Simultaneously vapor
His hope is a mystery
Reflecting its Creator  

Yet He asks of you:
Yes, wait.
Not to punish
Not to break your precious spirit
But to give time for His best
To bring you rest
To fulfill more than you guess

Because His dream for you
won’t shatter on the floor
Won’t FLASH then be no more
Won’t burden to your core 

His dream will make you
More of you
Than you have ever been
His dream for you is
More you
Than you ask or imagine

Because He sees all of you
Every thing you were
Every thing you are
Every thing you can be 

All at once
Wrapped up in one
Terrific dream
A gift He wants you to receive
Try to trust
And believe. 

Yes, try
Hold out your hands
And close your eyes
Breathe out a sigh
And wait.


©2018 Kelly Carr

A Thanksgiving Thought

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Thanksgiving provides a time for us to reconnect with our families. Whether we want to or not, many of us will travel to visit with loved ones this week and catch up with those we don’t see often. Though some of us have a family dynamic that we enjoy, for others this can be a stressful time filled with conversations we’d rather not be having. This can cause angst and feelings of resentment toward those we are supposed to love.

I’m reminded of our recent “Jesus &” series. Many of the messages were about being together with people in our communities. Those messages rallied around the idea of spending time with people who aren’t exactly like us. There could be some wisdom in that type of thinking as we travel to meet up with family this week.

Being a good neighbor extends to those we grew up with and know intimately. I rarely consider my family as my enemy, but as I sit here and think about with whom I have regular disagreements, they certainly do come to the top of my mind. I wonder what it might look like to take Jesus’ command to love and pray for our enemies into the family arena.

The truth is—the branches that extend from our own family trees might provide the greatest opportunity to cultivate good fruit. My prayer this week is that we connect in positive ways to those with whom we share blood and that we remember God’s gift of grace.

Take care.

New Series: To Follow Jesus

While stewardship has generally been a term used by churches to describe giving, it encompasses so much more. Often times we jump directly to money management without considering what it means to develop a healthy, biblical view of handling our resources.

In this short teaching series, Steve will utilize his background in theology and finance to explore what it truly means for us To Follow Jesus.

November 4: Compassion
November 11: Generosity
November 18: Balance

Echo Announces New Lead Minister


Echo Church is pleased to announce that Seth Millhoan has been called to be our next Lead Minister. 

Originally from Jamestown, Ohio. Seth attended Cincinnati Christian University before transferring and graduating from Northern Kentucky University with a radio/television degree. An avid baseball fan, Seth has been employed in sports broadcasting and coached both softball and baseball. He also has work experience in the television advertising field. 

Since 2013, Seth has served on the staff of Lifespring Christian Church in North College Hill as a student minister. The elders of Echo are confident that Seth’s leadership skills, passion for urban Cincinnati, and unique ministry experience make him the ideal leader for our congregation. Seth is married (Michelle), and has three daughters (Izzy, Audrey, and Piper).

Seth will join Echo in June. In the near future, we will announce a meet-and-greet so you can start to get to know the Millhoan's better. Chris Cox, who has been serving as Echo’s interim minister since January, will continue in an advisory position indefinitely. Please keep this transition in prayer as we begin a new chapter as a church family.

Easter at Echo

We'd love for you to join us for the most important date in the Christian calendar. 

This year, Easter falls on April 1st—April Fools Day. While skeptics feel that the story of Jesus' resurrection is ludicrous, the Bible addresses the doubt. In our worship, we'll not only explore how Jesus defeated death, but why following his path isn't foolishness. 

When? Sunday morning April 1st at 11:00

Where? 1301 East McMillan, Cincinnati, OH

What should I wear? Whatever makes you feel comfortable. Since it's Easter, some folk will be dressed up, but we invite you to come however you wish.

What about kids? We provide child care through kindergarten. For grade school and up, kids stay in the worship service. We provide an activity pack for kids who need to keep themselves busy.

New Series: Daniel

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In the Old Testament, the Lord was forced to punish his people because of their rebellious nature. In one of the most traumatic events in Jewish history, the people of God were exiled to the pagan land of Babylon. 

In the midst of this tragedy, however, there were faithful believers determined to stand firm in the midst of a hostile environment. In our study of the book of Daniel, we'll learn what it takes to live fearlessly in trying situations.

New Series: HUMAN

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Do you feel tension between holding to Biblical truth and respecting popular science? In our next teaching series, we're examining sacred and secular perspectives about our place in the universe. 

We'll use both the Scriptures and the recent works of Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens and Homo Deus) as starting points for our exploration of the past, present, and future of humanity.

January 7: Our Yesterday Part One (Origins)
January 14: Our Yesterday Part Two (Beliefs)
January 21: Our Today
January 28: Our Tomorrow

Leadership Update

The minister search committee is pleased to announce that we’ve come to an agreement with one of our candidates. Similar to how it worked with our last lead minister, this candidate will begin serving with Echo in the role of interim minister. If, after a three-month period, both our church and the candidate believe we're called to a long term relationship, he will be named our official Lead Pastor.

We've decided not to publicly announce the minister's name at this time as he still has some personal aspects of his transition to iron out. So please bear with us as we are limiting the details we're releasing to the church. His first Sunday with us will be February 4th.

Thank you for your continual prayers and patience in this time of transition at Echo. We truly believe we found the right person to journey with us.

In His Service,
The Minister Search Committee
Larry Budde, elder
Steve Carr, elder
Susan Israel, committee member
Evan Konc, committee member
Eric McDonald, committee member

New Series: Around the Manger

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The next few weeks will be a blur. So much to do, so little time. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of holiday tasks, will you take the time to pause and reflect on the reason for our gladness? Are we welcoming the newborn King into our celebration?

As we enter into the Christmas season, we invite you to join us in worship as we look at those who first welcomed Jesus into the world. 

Note: there will be no Echo worship gathering on Sunday December 24th.