“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, in Evergreen as it is in heaven…” –A portion of the Lord’s Prayer (modified)
“It’s good to be king and have your own way. Get a feeling of peace at the end of the day.”–Tom Petty (It’s good to be King)
We were driving to Aspen Ridge Church to put the finishing touches on our churchwide service project the following day when my son Connor said, “Dad, I love service project day!”
“I do too!” I replied before saying something that surprised me after I said it. “It’s one of my favorite days of the year. There is Christmas, Easter, and service day.” Since it just spontaneously flowed from my heart, I reflected later on why working in the hot summer sun picking weeds and scooping up dirt became one of my favorite days of the year.
I wonder if others love it like me and Connor? Is Aspen Ridge service day one of your favorites of the year? I’d like to make a case for it, right here.
It seems a bit nutty if I’m being honest. A day of picking weeds, sweeping and inhaling dirt, and picking up other people’s cigarette butts in the hot sun is a favorite? While some passing by on the streets say “thank you!” for us cleaning up the joint, just as many give annoyed looks because we are in the way of their walk or delaying that organic-free-range-soy-latte they crave every morning. Serving in the heat with little appreciation being a favorite day in line with celebrating Christ’s resurrection over ham and gravy? Yep, a bit crazy. I’ll admit it.
Part of the reason service day has become one of my favorite days of the year is practical and biblical. Working alongside with people I love and cleaning up the community is good work that provides a bit of exercise to boot. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus in service. We are blessed to be a blessing. This year I felt especially blessed because our family, the Arants, from Denver came up for the second year in a row to serve and our good neighbor Tammy worked with us as well!
I came to the conclusion, however, that the main reason service day is in my top favorite days of the year is because of the coming Kingdom of God. Hear me out on this. What we do around town these service days is a small picture of what God promises to do perfectly one day. By starting to make things more beautiful now, we are conveying the message that we believe and have hope that it will all be perfectly gorgeous one day soon. We want others to get a glimpse of the beauty of a renewed earth we see painted in the Bible.
Scripture promises us that our final destination and eternal home is right here on earth. Heaven will be an awesome place for believers and nothing I write here is intended to diminish it in the slightest. However, it is not the end game. The renewal of this earth is the end game and our reign with Jesus on it in his Kingdom is the final chapter of our story. The collision, if you will, of heaven and earth. And I don’t believe we will be singing hymns in white robes all day; unless that is your thing, of course. Pick your favorite activity while doing it with good friends and no sin. Seeing all the things you wanted to see in the world, but didn’t. Or seeing your favorite places perfectly. That is more of the renewed earth I see in the Bible.
I’ve been dreaming and thinking about this renewed earth lately. With all evil finally vanquished and the reign of good ushered in, it will be a sight to see. Dream about it regularly and watch yourself experience more joy and satisfaction in life. Especially with all the chaos and evil you undoubtably see around you or when you turn on media. By the way, do we even need to turn media “on” anymore? It just seems to be everywhere and on all the time. Over time it is horribly damaging to our hearts and souls.
Picture Evergreen lake, all the creeks, and the rolling mountains around here all made new and perfect. The best smells, tastes, and sounds in our mountain community made even better.
Have you ever smelt the bark of a ponderosa pine during a warm summer day? Get close up and try it. It smells like butterscotch. I can’t imagine many smells better than that, though it is coming with his Kingdom. During the service project, Pastor Jeff and I took a moment and savored being down wind of a gloriously garlicky dish being prepared at a local restaurant. I think every dish in the new earth should have a ton of garlic with no bad breath after eating it!
An elk bull bugle during the rut might be the most magnificent sound around town. Will we sing alongside them as they bugle in a renewed Evergreen? Or howl with wolves in Alaska? I hope so!
I believe it is a focus on the coming renewal of all things on earth that gets me so jazzed about service day. The re-creation of all we see around us. I picture a beautifully restored earth as I see us making Evergreen more beautiful. By cleaning and picking weeds we are, in a small way, showing our neighbors what we hope Evergreen will look like one day and that it is coming soon. And that we won’t be passive sitting in lawn chairs looking at the sky, we will be getting dirty and sweaty eager for his return. Making things look good for him.
As neighbors see us laughing and working hard in Aspen Ridge Church shirts, we are on mission—glorifying God by inviting them to find a home in Christ with us. A home that in the end will be right here above the dirt we toil in now. The Kingdom of Evergreen! And guess what? One day those who follow Jesus, including into service projects like these, will rule and reign with him as his kings and queens of Evergreen. (Matthew 19:28-30, THE MESSAGE).
Thank you to all the folks who cleaned and served Evergreen during our service day. Thank you to the people who helped one of our fantastic small group leaders, Dottie, move to a new home. Between movers, cleaners, and shakers, we had almost 60 of us serving this community! As we toiled in the hot sun, we reflected the Son to our neighbors. As workers moved Dottie to a new home and prepared it for her, God is preparing a home for her and us in Heaven. A heaven that will one day officially reign right here in the mountains.
Have you ever seen yourself as a king or queen of Evergreen? Or simply insert the city you love and serve. Perhaps princes and princesses for the children and young adults who worked so hard on service day? It’s true and it’s coming with his Kingdom. And that, my friends, may become my new very favorite day ever. It could be yours as well, if you’ll let it!
Director of Small Groups