Today marks the seven year anniversary of the loss of our pastor and dear friend Kyle Lake. Kyle’s legacy lives on in many ways. One thing that has been especially meaningful for UBC’ers, those who knew him and those who have joined us along the way since his passing, has been Kyle’s benediction that we say as a congregation at the end of the service. I have asked several people to reflect on the benediction and share thoughts with us. I will be posting their stories and artwork here for the next few days. ________________________________
I came to UBC tangled. As a business major who had just enough time left in undergrad to take 20th century theology and other classes that called into the question presuppositions of my rock solid faith, I became confused.
Having now pastored a church where there is a large number of college students I now realize I entered seminary in the midst of a process that often gets worked out in college.
I remember sitting in Betty Talbert’s office (Truett’s then Spiritual Formation Director) confessing that UBC had as much or more to do with my formation process than Truett did. I think that’s just right. The Academy ought to be the place where rigorous questioning and thought pull apart what we know, and church ought to be the place where those same questions find their place in the great mystery of God’s story that is enacted by the worship of the Church.
Embrace Beauty &
Live Life to the Fullest
Kyle was masterful at providing that space.
I only knew Kyle as my pastor for a little over a year, but in that time I observed that the benediction was something he changed up from time to time. Having just spent some time in the book of Job, I’m reminded of how careful we must be when using the word “providence,” but in the least, I find it serendipitous that these words seemed to pass out of time and into eternity with Kyle.
Of the three imperatives, it the second, embrace beauty, that helped untangle the knots in my soul. I’ve oft said in sermons that “Be in the world, but not of the world,” is the most famous Bible verse that doesn’t actually appear in the Bible. It’s probably a loose construction based on John 17 in particular verse 16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Someone recently told me that John is the Evangelical’s gospel. Indeed. One of the take-aways from John is that “the world” is bad. I should probably work harder here to get John off the hook, but to be honest it doesn’t really matter what John meant, it matters how he has been interpreted.
I believed that the world was a scary place full of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. There is a lot wrong with the world, but without ever preaching it Kyle reminded me that, “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1),” and that “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good (Genesis 1:31).”
In a recent issue of Christian Century John Buchanan tackles this same problem: “My problem was that I loved the world. There was plenty of evidence that there is something wrong at the heart of things, enough suffering, tragedy and evil in human history to suggest that original sin isn’t an inaccurate description. Yet I couldn’t stop thinking that original, essential goodness is still there—and that whatever is wrong does not cancel out this goodness.”
Kyle knew that. So I am learning to embrace the beauty of a God who loved me first in a world so full. Kyle helped me understand that I never really stop going to church. The gathering of the community is Sundays is just where we report on what we’ve “what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life,” (1 John 1:1) and “things too wonderful for us, which we did not know.” (Job 42:3).
How is this beauty being embraced you might wonder? I will tell you. We find beauty in the movies we watch with a critical eye. In the music we hear with critical ears. In the walks we take through fall colored woods. In the art we see. In the conversation we have. In the discoveries we make. In the games we cheer. In the painful growth we undertake. In, yes, wiping the snot form three-year-old noses. In the aromas we smell. In the food we taste. In the grace we receive. In death we mourn and in the life we anticipate.
In all of this we embrace the beauty.
Josh Carney is a native of Wisconsin and a graduate of Bethel University located in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Shortly after marrying his high school sweetheart, he and Lindsay packed up their belongings and moved to Waco so Josh could attend Truett seminary. After graduating from Truett he became UBC's teaching pastor, a position that had remained unfilled since Kyle's passing. Josh and Lindsay are the parents of Roy, Lillian and Mabel, who are real children, not 90-year-old shut ins, as their names may suggest.