Hearing the Music

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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

Together

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The Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorite novels and I often think on Ma Joad and her relentless pursuit of keeping the “fambly” together through all of their challenges, despair and life moments. As we enter 2021, Ma Joad is coming to my mind again. I think we’d do well to catch some of her tenacity, and keep up the hard work of maintaining our unity as a church family during a global pandemic as we begin this new year....together.

There are many ways we’re fighting isolation as a church family: our Bible Studies, our C-Groups, Youth Groups, children’s Bible verse memory challenges, single women’s meetings and our varied worship offerings. Then there are the texts, phone calls and cards that are going out. But one thing is for sure--it takes work. It’s harder to connect. If you are struggling in any way, please let the church know.

One opportunity I’d like to highlight is our Together in Prayer group that meets via Zoom on Wednesdays 7-8pm. The group is mostly populated by those of us with older kids or empty-nesters, but all are welcome! It’s pretty simple--we say hello, we go to prayer, we chat a bit and say goodbye. Some people pray out loud, some stay on mute with the video off the whole time. But in that way we go before God in prayer together, and you are invited. Use this form to get the Zoom link.

Learning to pray is a journey for me. I’ve been surrounded by people who pray my whole life; I’ve had many, many people pray for me and my family (thanks be to God!!); I’ve talked about prayer and have prayed for others. But I’ve mostly felt guilty, inept and as if I wasn’t doing nearly enough. (rightly so!) I do not know the ways of Jesus going off by himself to spend time with his Father in the midst of his chaos. But I can testify that the Holy Spirit has been drawing me more and more into prayer, and teaching me to just do the next thing. And what I’ve seen is that He does work through our prayers. He likes to do that. Things start to move, and I can see it. It’s usually pretty quiet, but sometimes his presence is loud and without a doubt. (It feels to me as if we’re helping him in the kitchen--he could do his will much more easily without us, but he invites us in to use us and to train us.) I notice also that after a while I might change a longtime prayer over a situation to be more in line with God’s heart. This little app has been helpful to me: prayminder.com. It sends prayer prompts throughout the day. If you’re looking for something like that, I recommend it. Also remember our weekly prayer email. You can contact the church office to be added to the list to receive it if you don't already.

Noting big life events is an important way for the “fambly” to live together. We have had many entries for our family Bible this past year: births, adoptions and the dear ones who have died. Praying over these families would be a great way to live together with them.

This Sunday we celebrate Epiphany--the light of Christ going out to all the world. Pastor Addison will open Luke 2:10 with us; we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper; we’ll hear an Epiphany testimony. Let’s look for the ways God is drawing us together into himself through these things so we can move into 2021 and welcome others into our family. May we "fear not and behold the good news of great joy that is for all the people" this Epiphany Sunday. 

 

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Posted by Susan Guerra

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