Reconciling Toward Wholeness

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If you've been able to join us in recent weeks, you have seen the focus of 2019 at Echo Church is Slow Church. As outlined in the book of the same name, we're considering how to approach our participation at Echo from ethical, ecological, and economical perspectives. Join us for the conversation. If you're away, stay connected through our podcast. Here are some takeaways from the February 24 message:

Ecology

The way we live in relationship to others and our environment is our ecology. The term ecology is rooted in the Greek “oikos” or “house.” Ecology is the relationship between my house and your house.

Colossians 1:15-20:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Jesus came to reconcile all things. 

  • Not only us to him

  • Us to one another

  • Us to all creation

Our houses are made up of:

  • The physical

  • The communal

  • The intellectual

  • The emotional

  • The spiritual

For Jesus to reconcile all things we need to:

  1. NAME IT. Specify what in your life needs reconciled. Is it physical, communal, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual?

  2. FEEL IT. Lament—for yourself or through empathy with others.

  3. SHARE IT. Verbally process with others so that you invite the light to overcome the darkness.

  4. GO THROUGH IT. Not around it. Not away from it. Do not sit in it.

  5. USE IT. To empathize. To encourage. To remind those around us that they are not the only ones longing for reconciliation. 

by Chris Cox

Thank you for serving

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Friends,

Echo recently had the chance to give back to our community in a meaningful way. In December we partnered with Douglass Elementary School and the Walnut Hills Faith Alliance to provide Christmas presents and daily need items for nearly 30 families in our neighborhood.
 
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the school and help people load things into their cars during pickup after the school day. Those who received gifts were nothing but grateful. There was also a buzz from the children in the building who were giving me high fives in the hallway.  Every teacher and administration person I met from the school that day was grateful for the support.
 
One mother of four children was overcome with joy as she walked into the library to receive the basket made for her. She continued to thank me as I walked her to her car to place items in the back. Sure, it felt good to receive the gratitude—but the praise, of course, is not why we serve.
 
When Jesus invites us into a relationship with Him and we accept, He’s asking us to give up our former lives to follow Him. I believe part of the new life found in Jesus is sacrificing for the Lord and seeking opportunities to connect with those around us in meaningful ways. This act of service, the giving of gifts to those who might not have something otherwise, is a simple way to show the love of Jesus to our neighbors.
 
I’m glad to be part of a church where people care enough to put the needs of others before themselves. I’m looking forward to our next opportunity.
 
Take care.
Seth

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.
Seth

The Waiting

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

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

You hold hope inside
Measured
Treasured
Carefully
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
Suddenly
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
Timidly
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
And CRASH
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
—abrupt
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
Perhaps
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:
Wait.
Again?
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
Shimmering
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.
—Seth

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

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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. 

ABOUT OUR EASTER GATHERING
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