Hearing the Music

Members of One Another

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For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

(Romans 12:4–5)

This past summer we spent some time in the verses listed above as we studied Romans. We were reminded of the tremendous privileges and responsibilities that are ours as members of Christ and, simultaneously, members of one another. As we get ready to receive new members into our fellowship again this weekend, I thought it would be worthwhile to remind ourselves of some of the language we use in our First Things class talking about our life together:

The Church is a Family. As such, I will do everything in my ability, and with the grace that God supplies, to support my church and its leaders as a regular participant in worship, a regular participant in community life, and a regular and generous giver of my time, my unique gifts and talents, and my financial resources, in accordance with the teachings of Scripture on biblical stewardship. I will be a support to the leaders and staff and to do all that is in my power to make their service a joy to them. I also will do my best to prayerfully engage with those who are not yet “part of the family”, and look for opportunities to invite and welcome them into the church family.

Because the church is a family, I commit to regularly “doing life together” with others in my church family. I will first make an effort to be a regular participant in a C-Group. Or, if this is in no way possible, I will actively seek some other means to become vitally and regularly connected with the people of God. I will refuse to live out my Christianity alone, because I am part of a family, and because I am created in the image of an intensely relational God. When I am in pain or struggling, I further commit to make my needs known to my C-Group and/or to the leadership, in an appropriate manner, in order that they may effectively care for me as they are called by Jesus to do.

Obviously some of our regular ways of doing life together have been challenged in 2020. But challenge fosters innovation and it has been great to see how the body of Christ has rallied. As our individual situations change, as the vaccine is rolled out and administered, as we simply recognize how much we need each other; let us do our best to live out our membership. In that same vein, I talked to one CC attender who came back this past Sunday for the 1st time since March. It was so great for both of us to live out our membership in the flesh. If you are praying through coming back to worship, know that you are welcome.

This week Pastor Addison will be looking at Jesus as the Light of the World, a statement in both John 8 and 9. May he indeed be the light that illumines our way!

Believe, Belong, Beloved

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The turning of the year is always a great time for reflection. As we turn from 2020 to 2021 many of us are ready to flush 2020 down the proverbial toilet and are hoping for a return to normalcy in all aspects of life. While that impulse is understandable, using gospel goggles will help us see that it is ultimately a wrong impulse owing to the fact that in pandemics as in politics, in life as in death, we are not our own, but belong to our faithful savior Jesus Christ!

As we saw this past Sunday, John’s gospel reminds us of this fact. Like John, our life in Jesus results in our being His beloved disciples. This is the bedrock of our identity and the source of our strength through years like 2020 or in the sanguinity that we hope for in 2021. As we will see this Sunday (John 6:22-59), it is as we believe Jesus, the Bread of Life come down from heaven, that our hungry souls are filled. Again, believing is not less than an intellectual assent to the claims of Jesus, but is so much more as we surrender our whole being to him! (FYI - for those of you who were privy to the rolled ankle illustration on Sunday, maybe I shouldn’t have used that as two of my players rolled their ankles this week, including Moses!)

In the past, we have characterized our life together at Christ Church as one in which we respond to the invitation of Jesus to Believe and Belong. Perhaps in light of John, we can modify this formulation a bit. Our invitation is to Believe and Belong as Beloved disciples!

May Jesus become more and more real to us as we walk forward into 2021!

 

Photo by Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash

Truths for 2021

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One thing continues to ring true as we enter the new year and inch our way along: Jesus is King! Many other “things” ring true as well - the sun is rare in the winter in West Michigan (it's shining as I write this, hallelujah!), snow is cold, politics are messy, 2020 was hard (and unwelcome in many respects), people are suffering, and church should be a safe place. That last one is a difficult truth to write. For many of us we do experience church as a safe place; a place where we can be vulnerable before God, friends and our community. A place we can turn to in times of need or struggle; a community to help us process and pray through situations. However, there are many people who don’t see church as a safe place. Victims of abuse, whether physical, emotional, spiritual or the like, can experience that abuse from within the church community and see church as unsafe. Recently a fellow member of Christ Church on a "healing journey” wrote the following letter that sheds light on some of this. It begins with a reminder from the Bible:

"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed or hidden that will not be known."          Luke 12:2

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 3 women experience sexual violence during her lifetime and nearly 1 in 4 men experience sexual violence during his lifetime. Recent investigations within Southern Baptist churches confirm sexual abuse to be as much of a problem within evangelical churches as it is in the rest of the country. When abuse occurs, the victims tend to wrestle with questions about God, such as: "does God care?" or "why doesn’t He do something?". Rachel Denhollander, a lawyer, former gymnast, and sexual assault survivor, expresses in her book "What is a Girl Worth?" that sexual abuse damages the victims forever. She shares, “I lived with the scars too, and I was wrestling with the reality that full healing doesn’t ever come" (pg. 226-227). While this may be true on this earth we have hope in a God who will heal all. Psalm 147:3 assures us:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Along with this, the Bible also tells us, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9). As a church we must strive to be a place of safety and healing for those who are hurting. We must seek to help the broken in mind, body, and spirit. May God give us wisdom and compassion as we humbly work in this ministry.

Love,
A fellow member of Christ Church on a healing journey

There are two aspects of this letter I hang on to. First, that “as a church, we must strive to be a place of safety and healing for those who are hurting.” Amen. The statistics are daunting, concerning and humbling. The results of investigations in the SBC and other denominations shed more light on this issue. Part of Jesus’ mission is to bring healing to the sick and needy. We are starting a new sermon series on Sunday titled “I Am”, looking at the 'I Am' statements made by Jesus in the gospel of John. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Way, Truth and Life, the Resurrection and Life. Jesus is the King who has come and who knows His people's hurts, habits and hang-ups and enters into them. We must seek to trust wholly in Jesus in all circumstances.

The second aspect I hang onto is that our wisdom and compassion in this area must come from God, for He is the one who heals. It doesn't come from our own wisdom or from the world. The healing we provide is only a shadow of what God offers through a relationship in Jesus. As we seek God and as the Holy Spirit moves we will be a safe place for those who are hurting. 

Join me in praying for the hurting in our community who experience abuse. Let us pray that God would make Christ Church a safe place in 2021 and beyond.

 

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

Posted by Addison Hawkins

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