Hearing the Music

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Happy Anniversary

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Whose anniversary are we celebrating? Why, ours, of course! That’s right, 6 years ago this coming Sunday I was installed as minister of Christ Church. It is hard to believe that 6 yrs have elapsed. Since we have been here we have had 4 kids graduate from high school. We have fostered about a dozen kids and the Lord has added Moses to our family. We have been in your homes, you have been in ours. We have seen God work in our church community; in exciting ways and in ways that have stretched us. We have met each other on mountaintops and in valleys. We have been the source of one another’s delight and we have been the occasion of each other’s discouragement. These are the realities of life together. By God’s grace we will have many more years to search out the scriptures for the deep things of grace and have the opportunity to practice them together in our community.

While these occasions do not always call for outward celebration or even recognition, I do try to use them as an opportunity for reflection. Right now the thing I feel the most weight of is the calling to serve God’s people. I have been an ordained minister for over 20 years now and I can honestly say I have never experienced a season like this one. The disruption and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic and the various responses to it, the divisions that exists politically in our country AND in our churches over proper response to cultural issues, the pain being expressed as these divided groups hurt one another, the frailty and fallenness on display amongst my fellow brothers in the ministry; each of these points to a desperate need for divine intervention. With Isaiah I say “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Is. 6:5). With Paul I cry out, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16)

But here is the hope, “thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14). We look at our selves and we see feet of clay and hearts of wax. But, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, our covenant making and covenant keeping Lord, there is always hope. Remember, the light has shone in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it (John 1:5)! It is this Light that guides us. It is this Light that sustains and shines through us. So let us together keep seeking the Light. Let us keep short accounts with one another that we may be long on grace. And may it be that God would spread through us the fragrance of the Gospel.

Bearing Our Wounds

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I was reminded in preparing for last week's Lament Service, along with some reading I was doing from Open Hearts Ministries, of the picture of the church as an inn for the wounded.  

As context for this idea, we look at the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10. Here we meet a traveler on a dangerous road who is beset on by robbers. These robbers beat this vulnerable man and leave him traumatized and wounded. In due time, a Samaritan comes by and lifts the wounded traveler onto his donkey. He carries him to an inn, a safe place where he can receive care and have the time he needs to recover. The Samaritan is generous with his possessions, paying for the man’s care out of his own pocket.

In reading this parable, we are reminded that all of us are wounded travelers who need others to see us, stop for us and give attention to our wounds. Our journey is fraught with dangers, some intentional by those who would do us harm. Some wounds are by-products of living in a fallen world. Sometimes, sadly, we even wound those whom we most love.

So, we need Samaritans and we need an inn. Among other purposes, it is to meet these needs that God has given us a community of people that he has called the church. It is this community that he intends to be an “inn,” a place to rest and a place that cares for people on their journey towards restoration. In community with one another, we learn to give and receive mercy, to love and to find more of the life God is calling us to. We apply God’s grace and truth to the very real wounds we carry, not as those that "have-it-all-together", but like the Samaritan, as those who bear wounds ourselves.


Ultimately, the Good Samaritan points us to Christ. He is the One who heals our wounds perfectly. We will be reminded of this yet again in Romans 7:1-6 as we look at it this Sunday. Where the Law has left us bruised and broken, Jesus steps in and makes us whole again. Praise be to him!

 

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A Bi-Focal Church

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In early March the elders and deacons gathered for a day long retreat focused on prayer and processing the question of how can we be a church that is strong in both discipleship and evangelism, a place where we have great community together as God’s people and where we pursue the call of the great commission. We want to be a bi-focal church; i.e. we want to see both near and far. We want to see the things that are right in front of us, as well as those things that are currently beyond our purview. It was a good discussion; a challenging discussion. In each area there are things that we do well and ways that we can grow. But for all, the desire to be the bi-focal church was strong.

As we continue forward we are getting more comfortable with our new bi-focal prescription. We are learning to see our our life together through this dual lens. It is through this lens that I get really excited about the Bones camp this coming week. Here we have an opportunity to take the living, breathing Word of God and bring it into the lives of our young people in a powerful way. We believe that they will have a life long benefit from their exposure to the Book of Ezekiel. At the same time we can invite others in and welcome them in the name of the Lord. We can engage them with the same truths and invite them to believe this life changing gospel and belong to the community that God is building in us.

As we seek to wear these lenses, we recognize that we are striving to see like the Savior who saw those near and those far: 

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility …. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.       Ephesians 2:13–21

 

Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash

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