Hearing the Music

Ready to Assemble

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Monday morning Pastors Ben, Addison, and I along with ruling elder Jim Visser and Kuni Hotta will travel to Saint Louis, MO to take part in our denomination’s General Assembly. The Assembly is a great time of worship, resourcing, reconnection with folks across the denomination, and of course, conducting business. For those unfamiliar for how the Assembly functions, Jim and the three pastors will all be attending as delegates and will have the opportunity to vote on all issues that come to the floor. In all there will be 1500+ delegates. In addition Jim, Addison and I will be serving the denomination more particularly through delegation to a “Committee of Commissioners”: Jim on Covenant Seminary, Addison on Mission to the World, and I will be serving on RidgeHaven Camp and Conference Center. These Assembly committees oversee the work of the permanent committees (boards) and report to the Assembly of any issues or challenges these agencies face.

One major topic for discussion for the assembly will be the Human Sexuality Report that was released about a year ago to address issues pertaining to LGBTQ+. Because of Covid the Assembly did not meet last year, so this report has yet to be officially received by the Assembly, but has garnered solid reviews as being both Biblically faithful and pastorally sensitive. You can read the report here. There are several connected issues that will also be discussed pertinent to the report. Your prayers are coveted for this important assembly. We will be sure to give an update in the the coming weeks.

 

Photo by Product School on Unsplash

Freedom to Rest

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The gods confound the man who first found out
How to distinguish hours! confound him, too,
Who in the place set up a sun-dial
To cut and hack my days so wretchedly
Into small portions!

- Plautus, Roman Playwright, lamenting new technologies, 200 AD

Since the fall of Adam in the Garden, humanity has been fighting itself for healthy living. A big part of this fight is finding a work/rest balance that honors our physicality along with our spirituality. In the past century Americans have seen the average number of hours per night that we sleep drop from nearly 11 hours to 7, while working nearly four more weeks per year than we did in 1979. Compound these numbers with the triumph of the digital "interruption technologies" that have so consumed so many of us, and we find ourselves overworked, overstressed, anxious, and panting with exhaustion as we make our way through life.*

But these current challenges are not unique to our present time. In fact, as YHWH begins to reforge his formerly enslaved, idol-worshipping people, he starts with two key themes: rest and worship. It is these themes that we will focus on this coming Sunday as we look at Exodus 20:22–26; 23:10–19. We may be shocked to find how relevant these 3500 year old words are!

Speaking of worship and rest, what a great week of Magnify! arts and rec camp that we had! About 120 kids and family over the past week walked through the stories of Mary and Jesus and were invited to worship Jesus and rest in him, even as Mary did. Thank you to all who participated, either as campers or volunteers. A special thanks to Debbie and Susan for their leadership. Hopefully all will get the rest they need to recover! 

 

Photo by Lucija Ros on Unsplash

Faithfully Working

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Over the past few years Christ Church has been intentionally exploring its role in equipping and mobilizing followers of Jesus to engage their vocation. This includes Adult Institute classes focused around work and calling, a podcast that interviewed members about their vocation during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as various sermons, discussions and events focused around a flourishing society. We’ve been exploring servanthood, responsibility, courage and humility. These four words help prepare God’s people for a life of wise vocational stewardship. It’s our expressed intent to cultivate not only a healthy vocabulary but to also connect our deep ingrained sense of righteousness to these character traits that express faithful vocational stewardship. In short Christ Church wants to fill her people with wise, Christ-centered principles of vocation, calling and what it means to honor God in all aspects of our lives. So what are we doing about this? Today we have re-launched Faithfully Working Lunch, one of our Faithfully Working ministry offerings. As recent recipients of the inVocation grant from Hope College and the Lily Foundation, our aim is to create spaces for discussion and shared focus for growth. Over the next 18 months we will seek to foster a deeper understanding of how we can offer service through our various callings, engage in the flourishing of our communities and disciple one another through our gifts, passions and opportunities.

The last 14 months have turned a lot of how we view work on it’s head. Unemployment became real for many who never thought it would. The work from home model became the norm, making the dining room table not only the place you eat or read to your kids, but also the place where you write draft proposals, answer emails and “clock-in” for the days work. This has produced more stress and anxiety, the constant connection to our employers with a very real sense of the job is never done. There is a sense of low level anxiety that has permeated every aspect of our lives. It doesn’t only exist in the job world, but in all levels of work. Raising kids, volunteering at church, serving on a school board, caring for our elderly parents, taking care of the many things we have acquired. Work surrounds our lives, we toil as a part of the curse found in Genesis 2 and 3. As churches continue to close (6,000-10,000 per year) the secular world has recognized the need for human touch, something that transcends the difficulty of life, and addresses the spiritual and religious needs of employees. No matter what religious need that is.

It seems pertinent to pursue these issues as Jesus followers. We are seeking the welfare of the city (Jeremiah 29:7) while also recognizing that it’s through Jesus that the weary find rest (Matt 11:28-30) and the city rejoices because of the work of the righteous (Prov. 11:10). Through our pursuit of Jesus in every aspect of our life together, including vocation, we desire to humbly follow the Lord in this leading. By seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) and living it out today through our various gifts, passions and opportunities, we journey together to seek Jesus through our vocation, pursue justice and shalom for our neighborhoods and city by re-orienting our heart to the gospel message.

Stay tuned to our podcast to catch each edition of Faithfully Working over the next 18-months. We are excited to journey together.

You may have recognized the progress that is happening at Christ Church. Our building project continues and we anticipate full use of our new space later this summer. As we contemplated the use of this space we puzzled over an appropriate name. Words matter. They mean things, and impact the way you and I choose to engage with, in this case, a space in the house of God we steward. After much prayer, thought and discussion, the building committee has landed on Atrium. Here are the Oxford definitions of Atrium;

ARCHITECTURE

  • an open-roofed entrance hall or central court in an ancient Roman house.
  • a central hall or court in a modern building, with rooms or galleries opening off it, often glass-covered.

ANATOMY

  • each of the two upper cavities of the heart from which blood is passed to the ventricles. The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood from the veins of the body; the left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the pulmonary vein.

“The sanctuary and this new open high ceiling space, are spaces where learning and teaching are at the ‘Heart’ of our worship. Atrium also describes a sense of natural light and outdoor environment brought into our worship space.”

We are excited about the possibilities that await the Atrium. Events like Faithfully Working Lunch will find a future home in this space. There will be much laughter, discussion, mourning, beauty and care that happens within that space. May God be glorified as we faithfully follow Him.

 

Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle on Unsplash

Posted by Addison Hawkins

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