Intersections: Reflections on Life and Faith

This newly released volume is an anthology of twenty years of newspaper columns written by Greg Asimakoupoulos

The Reverend Greg Asimakoupoulos, who has been the chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores on Mercer Island since 2013, has published a new book. The 350-page volume is titled Intersections: Reflections on Life and Faith and is a collection of newspaper columns Asimakoupoulos has written for the Mercer Island Reporter over the past seventeen years.

According to Mercer Islander Michael Medved, who wrote an endorsement for the book, “The writing of Greg Asimakoupoulos has the power to move, inspire, amuse and, best of all, to surprise you. His unexpected enlightening connections can help the reader see the world with refreshed eyes as we travel the intersections of faith and everyday life with a wise and sympathetic guide.”

Asimakoupoulos, who grew up in Wenatchee, began writing a faith-and-values column for the Reporter when he and his family moved from Illinois to Mercer Island in 2005 to become lead pastor of Evergreen Covenant Church. His bi-weekly columns have subsequently been picked up by The Wenatchee World and The Chicago Daily Herald.

“I’m grateful these columns have a second life,” Asimakoupoulos observed. “My simple essays with a spiritual application were written to provide a crosswalk at the intersection of where daily living meets what we believe.”

Asimakoupoulos, the author of fifteen books, began publishing articles while on the pastoral staff at Interbay Covenant Church in Seattle (now Quest Church) forty years ago. The cover art for Intersections features a painting of a rainy downtown Seattle. The renown Pacific Northwest artist, David Marty, was a member of Interbay Covenant Church when Asimakoupoulos was the pastor. The book is dedicated to the late Carl Taylor, who as senior pastor hired Asimakoupoulos, a young inexperienced seminary student in 1979 to be his associate at Interbay. Taylor passed away earlier this year as the book was being envisioned.

Intersections: Reflections on Life and Faith is available at Amazon.com


Greg’s new book,
Intersections:
Reflections on
Life & Faith”

is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $20.78.
On the Tracks Media

Don’t Let Balance Die!

A grave marker in a Chicago cemetery is a call to keep balance alive in our lives during this hectic holiday season

Earlier this fall I was attending a leadership summit in a suburb of Chicago. Following our sessions one afternoon, I went for a power walk before dinner. Adjacent to the conference center was a cemetery.  Because reading old headstones in a graveyard is one of my favorite pastimes, my aspirations of getting my heartrate up gave in to my curiosity as I looked down at the markers.

One tombstone in particular captured my attention. It marked the final resting place for a family by the name of Balance. Balance? Really? I’d never seen that word as a name before.  For one whose mind delights in word play and double entendres, I had to smile. Balance was dead.

Before me was living proof that balance had been a casualty of life. What was relationally true for this Chicago-area family, has been emotionally true for me at times in the past when my schedule was out of control. And I know I’m not alone. Balance is that easy-going, less-than-obvious, reality that doesn’t call attention to itself. We tend to take it for granted. We don’t realize how key it is to a happy life until it’s gone.

When balance bites the dust, panic thrives. Life becomes chaotic. A kind of grief sets in. Inner peace plays hide-and-seek.  When balance has ceased to be a reality in our lives, the consequences are endless. They include debt, illness, depression, a short temper, drug use, alcohol abuse and over-eating.

If ever there is a time when taking urgent care of balance is critical, it’s now. This is the season of the year when maintaining a healthy balance between demands and desires is at-risk. Advent, Hanukkah and Christmas can easily find balance on life-support.

Just looking at my own schedule at work is enough to rob balance of its breath. There is a tree-lighting ceremony, a St. Lucia breakfast, a poetry reading tea, four holiday concerts, three Advent lectures, two staff parties and an all-campus carol sing-a-long. (Were you expecting a partridge in a pear tree?)

And then there’s my own personal calendar of writing the family Christmas letter, addressing the Christmas cards, shopping for family members and workmates, wrapping those gifts and helping my wife decorate the house.

Add to all of the above the fact that Christmas Day falls on Sunday this year. Bah! Humbug! Once again, a day meant to be spent with family is threatened by the demands of the church calendar. Without an infusion of creativity, balance is definitely headed for the intensive care unit.

Your schedule is likely just as complicated. The commitments on your calendar may be different than mine, but the outcome is equally as stressful. With apologies to Dr. Seuss, it’s not the Grinch we have to worry about. It’s the lack of balance that threatens to steal Christmas (and ultimately our health).

To that end may I suggest reflecting on the lyrics of one of my most-loved contemporary carols. In “Breath of Heaven” (written by Chris Eaton and recorded by Amy Grant) there is recognition of the weight waiting for Christmas finds us carrying as well as the pressures that cause us to stoop navigating life in a less-than-perfect world.

I am waiting in a silent prayer. I am frightened by the load I bear, In a world as cold as stone. Must I walk this path alone?  Be with me now.

In silent prayer and honest reflection, we just might find guidance in how to reduce the activities that typically define our December. We just might discover that Immanuel (God-with-us) is with us providing us the means to keep balance alive.

In the case of Christmas Day being on Sunday, for me there is hope. Balance will not succumb this year to the life-threatening complications with which I have to contend every six years. With the concurrence of colleagues, we decided to pre-record our Christmas Day worship service and broadcast it on our closed-circuit television channel a few times on Sunday. A hack we discovered during COVID proves helpful once again.

Now, what other ways can I simplify this season?

Let’s Hear It for Thank Banks!

Making daily deposits in a Thank Bank helps maintain an attitude of gratitude all year long

My Thank Bank sits beside my bed.
I look at it each night.
It reminds me what to do before I sleep.
When I deposit gratitude
for God’s hand in my life,
I have no need for counting bedtime sheep.

My Thank Bank (like a Piggy Bank)
is for using all the time.
I have pocket change of blessings every day.
Enough to eat, a place to sleep, and evidence I’m loved
are little things the Good Lord sends my way.

Those dimes and quarters all add up
when placed within the bank.
So, too, my blessings even though they’re small.
By telling God I’m grateful
every day throughout the year,
it’s Thanksgiving summer, winter, spring and fall.

Saint Michael of Wheaton

Wheaton College alumnus Michael Gerson was a Presidential speech writer and syndicated columnist

Saint Michael of Wheaton
like Anselm and Paul
gifted words to those needing to speak.
With eloquent reason
and faith-grounded thought,
Michael strengthened the hopeful and weak.

He gave a Bush fire
that brilliantly burned
as the White House became holy ground.
And like Gershwin, Mike Gerson
made simple words sing
through his adjectives, adverbs and nouns.

And today we are grieving
the death of a man
who gave life through the columns he wrote.
Through Saint Michael of Wheaton,
Christ’s Kingdom has grown
by a journalist’s penchant for notes.

https://www.npr.org/2022/11/19/1137925730/opinion-remembering-mike-gerson-washington-post-columnist

https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2022/11/17/michael-gerson-speechwriter-post-dies/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gerson

A New Thanksgiving Hymn

The lyrics of this new hymn invite the grateful worshiper to lift his hands in praise

With gratitude
we raise our hands toward Heaven
in praise and worship of the God we serve.
We have been blessed
with mercies beyond number.
God’s faithfulness exceeds what we deserve.
With hands held high,
we reach to One who loves us
much like a child who longs to be embraced.

With gratitude
we raise our hands toward Heaven
convinced our world is governed by God’s plan.
When violence
disrupts the peace we pray for,
when prejudice and fear divide our land,
with hands held high
submitting to God’s purpose,
we gratefully declare that God is love.

With gratitude
we raise our hands toward Heaven
acknowledging the One who’s in control.
We humbly bow
before our Lord and Maker
relinquishing our bodies, minds and souls.
With hands held high, we gratefully surrender
to One who works all things for God’s own good.

Suggested tune: FINLANDIA