I Am With Them…

Have you ever felt Jesus’ presence? I am a “people person” – one who thrives in the presence of others. To be sure, I enjoy my alone time. But there is an energy, a spirit of unity that I feel when I am gathered with other believers.

The earliest recollection I have of feeling Jesus’ presence in a very real way was in August, 1977, at fifteen years old. We moved from Minnesota to Katy, Texas that July. We visited what would become our home church, Memorial Lutheran Church of Katy, soon after moving in. After our very first visit, the church’s pastor came to our house to welcome us to town and to Memorial. Although we hadn’t yet joined the church, Pastor Loomis invited my sister and me to join the youth group on their annual beach retreat to Matagorda, TX the following weekend. With some degree of apprehension we accepted the invitation. The group welcomed us as if we had been with them for years. The fellowship we enjoyed over the weekend was like nothing I had experienced before. Sunday morning, we worshipped on the fishing pier overlooking the river on which the house was situated. There, for the first time, I knew Jesus is real.

Through my high school years, my church, and more specifically, my youth group and its adult leaders, were grounding elements in my life. I felt called into professional ministry, and enrolled at Concordia Lutheran College in Austin for pre-seminary studies. At Concordia, I received a top-flight education as I earned a Bachelors Degree in General Studies. More important, though, were the friendships I gained over those four years. Countless times, whether in class, in chapel, or in small groups, I felt Jesus’ presence with us. The unity among my Concordia friends is grounded in Christ, and that unity still flourishes today.

Now, here we are. 2020. COVID-19. I don’t have to recap the story here; we have all lived it. In March, when churches closed due to pandemic, the phenomenon we call online church emerged. It grew and developed into a major force in the church. At first I really enjoyed it. I have several friends who pastor churches all over the country and I enjoyed visiting their churches online and hearing them preach the Gospel. Over time, I found that I didn’t necessarily have to tune in at the exact time of worship; many were available on YouTube and other media (still are) and I could watch at my convenience. Yes, I could watch…. For me, online worship was not participatory; I felt that I was observing from the outside and I longed to gather together. In person. At my church.

I am not knocking online worship. It is an incredible blessing for those with high risk factors to COVID-19 and I thank God for the technology and expertise that makes online worship a high quality and blessed experience. But, it does not replace the in-person gathering of Christians to lift our voices in praise, hear the Word together and partake of the Sacraments. I am so thankful that many churches, including my church family at Grace Presbyterian Church in Houston, are once again gathering in person while maintaining their online presence for those who cannot safely partake.

One of the things I love most about this promise from Jesus is the fact that it is not limited to gatherings in church. When believers gather to share a meal, when we gather for a simple visit, even when we gather for a Zoom happy hour as a few of us from Concordia did last Friday – this promise is true. Jesus is with us. We encourage each other, we support each other, and the unity in Christ that we share is fortified.

Indeed, I love this promise from Jesus, and I know it to be true. This evening, for the first time in about eight months, I will join with other choristers at my church in a rehearsal for this Sunday’s worship service. We will be a smaller number than usual. We will be socially distanced. We will wear masks. And… We will sing. We will be together. Jesus will be there, too. And I can hardly wait!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry 2020

RIMS 2019 In The Books!

It is good to be home! The national Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS) conference is an event to which I look forward every year. It is a very busy week packed with meetings, networking events, good friends and good times. With hardening insurance markets, underwriter meetings at RIMS were somewhat more substantive than in most years, and the timing of RIMS for me was fortuitous as many key insurance partners were in Boston and available for discussion. Indeed, it was a productive week and I am thankful to have attended.

Demonstrating the comaraderie that characterizes our great industry is best done through pictures, so I offer a few here.

Sneak peek at the exhibit hall Sunday afternoon.
Dinner with CorVel Sunday evening at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle. Steak!!
How she got up & down from there I have no clue. Lady on very tall stilts, AIG dessert reception Sunday evening.
Sysco colleague and I outside AIG meeting space Monday. Insurer and broker meeting spaces in the convention center make transitioning between meetings very easy.
Quick meet & greet with ReEmployAbility friends in the exhibit hall.
Since my property renewal wraps up just before RIMS, we started a Tuesday afternoon tradition three RIMS ago of gathering with Houston & London brokers and underwriters to celebrate partnership. Here are Houston & London brokers with our lead Lloyds underwriter.

Chubb offers a nice client appreciation dinner Wednesday evening. Combining casual attire, fine food and an amazing venue (JFK Library) it is the perfect event at which to conclude RIMS. Above I am pictured with two long-time friends (I won’t say how long…) with Chubb and CorVel.

I had some time alone late Wednesday afternoon to enjoy a nice Cakebread Chardonnay and reflect on the events of the week. Only about 30 minutes, I take this time every year to catch my breath and count my blessings. Legal Harborside, Wednesday afternoon.

RIMS is an action-packed, full-calendar event. My rule for survival this year included this mantra:

“Head on the pillow by 11:00”

I achieved that objective each night, which helped me stay on my game during the busy agendas of meetings and events. My color-coded agenda helped keep me on time and (mostly) in the right place!

RIMS 2019 is in the books. Each morning I took time to read Scripture and ask God to help me be a witness in the fast and furious pace that is RIMS. I pray that I mostly achieved that. Now it is time to strap on the Fitbit and get some steps as I seek to shed the 3 pounds I gained over the course of the week!

Soli DEO Gloria!

(c) workisministry.com 2019