Hearing the Music

Holding the Center

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And he (Christ) is before all things, and in him all things hold together.          Colossians 1:17

Fragmentation. Isolation. These are words used to describe our present cultural moment. Some of this has been brought on by the pandemic, while other aspects are more a culmination of trends in our culture over the last several decades. What we experience culturally, we also experience in smaller units: families, churches, businesses, etc…. What will hold us together? Political ideology? Economic stability? From the beginning humanity has discovered the secret to unity is right relationship to our Creator. As the verse from Colossians at the top of today's letter states, Christ is the center. In him all things hold together. When we lose our grasp on him, disintegration is the result. This week Pastor Bryant will be opening Psalm 133 with us, a Psalm extolling the beauty of unity held together by people surrendered to the Gospel message.  

As part of our experience of this surrender and belonging to Christ, the elders have encouraged us to celebrate the Lord’s Supper this Sunday. As much as the Lord’s Supper speaks to our individual relationship with the Lord, it also is a powerful picture of the unity that we have with one another. So both in the parking lot and in the home worship guide, whether you are with your family or with a small group together in person or via zoom, we encourage you to prepare your hearts to express your faith in Christ. We recognize that this celebration will be different from other celebrations that we have had. Some will note the insufficiencies, perhaps even inconsistencies of celebrating the Supper at this time. But the importance of confessing our faith and unity in Christ seems especially important at this time. Christ is our center. Only as we hold on to him do all things hold together. It is our joy to confess our faith in him, even imperfectly. It is our desperation to wait on the strength promised for all those who feed on him with faith.  


Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Return of the Cloak

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A couple of weeks ago we looked at the call of Elisha in 1 Kings 19. We noted then that the cloak of Elijah became the sign of God’s call on Elisha’s life. That same cloak makes its reappearance in our section for this week II Kings 2:1-18. Here we literally see the transition between Elijah and Elisha take place and are reminded that not only does God always maintain a witness in the world, but that he provides for them everything that they need to carry out their calling.

I was thinking of this in the midst of my own sadness of hearing Tim Keller’s announcement that he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In so many ways Dr. Keller has been a mentor from afar for me, both in his clear Gospel centered teaching and through the humility and grace with which he has carried the mantle that God has given him. When one recognizes the mortality of such men, one can almost get a little panicky, “Who will carry the ball forward?” This chapter reminds us, for every Elijah there is an Elisha, for every Moses, a Joshua, for every Lewis, a Keller. God will carry his plans forward and is pleased to use his servants along the way, each one uniquely equipped for their time and place.

Staying with Dr. Keller, I am grateful for the work that he and the rest of a very good PCA committee did on the much anticipated and much needed report on Human Sexuality. This report is both Biblically and theologically precise, while at the same time pastorally full of grace and wisdom. With a little effort, it is accessible to all and may very well be the best 30ish minutes that you spend reflecting on some of these issues. As with the totality of our current cultural moment, we find ourselves desperately in need of God’s truth and grace for dealing with the very personal and thorny questions pertaining to how sexuality is played out. While these struggles hit close to home and at times seemingly take the wind out of our spiritual sails, I have so much hope that God’s word truly points the way forward.

 

Photo by Carlos Leret on Unsplash

Expressing Our Unity

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This past week our Gracehill brother, Ben Seneker, encouraged the body there to “hold close to the teaching from Ephesians 4, 'walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.'” As America continues to polarize, this is such a timely word for us as members of the family of God, both within our local body and more corporately throughout our city and world.

One of the challenges that we have had to navigate with respect to maintaining unity has been the isolation brought on by Coronavirus. To that end the session would like to invite you to gather for worship at our parking lot services. Over the last two weeks as we have experimented with these services, we have found them be a good portal for gathering in a way that is both eminently safe and affords opportunity for important connections with our brothers and sisters in Christ. For those that may be in a higher risk category our FM transmitter allows you to stay in your car and access the service that way. For those more adventurous, setting out chairs and worshipping outside is been truly a wonderful way to fellowship with God and his people. As Michigan continues to open back up we have a team putting together protocols for a return the sanctuary, in the meantime we will continue to utilize these outdoor services. The weather looks beautiful for Sunday, so why don’t you make plans to join us at 9 or 10:30?  I hope that it goes without saying that we want you to make the best decision with regards to engaging these services for you and your family. We are continuing to produce the Home Worship Guide and will gladly welcome you back when the situation best allows. 

 

Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash

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