Hearing the Music

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Hard Candy

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I remember as a kid getting my church candy, right before the sermon would start. One of my favorites, that we only had occasionally because the wrappers were too loud, was the Anise candy. I loved the Anise candy because I could suck on it slowly and it continued to give good flavor right through the sermon! In many ways this is a picture of what we get as we continue to hold the hard candy of the Word in our hearts and minds soaking in its flavor. As we return to Romans (this week chapter 12:1-2), this call to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, testing and approving the will of God, his good, acceptable and pleasing will, requires that we extract the juices of God’s Word, savoring every bit.

To help us savor God’s Word our sermon study team* is going to be providing 5 days of additional hard candy to be enjoyed following each sermon in our By Mercy series on Romans 12-16. Each devotional will take a small part of the larger text for further reflection and prayer. In many ways these devotional offerings will expand on (and replace) the questions for further thought/discussion that we have been providing recently and will be attached to the Friday letter. If you would like to have the devotional emailed to you daily, Monday- Friday, signup here. In addition to personal growth or reflection, these short reflections could be used in families for growth/reflection, in C-Groups as a basis for discussion/prayer, or you could use them with a co-worker or neighbor for Bible study. However they are used, we want to take the Word, allow it to dwell richly within us, so that by testing we can discern the will of God.

As we continue our life together don’t forget our plans to move inside. This Sunday evening we would love to invite a socially distanced, full-house to experiment with the service we have planned. If you are able to make it, we anticipate the service will be of great value in working out some bugs for the following week. Next week all the offerings will be in place, including: Home Worship Guide, Indoor Worship (please RSVP), and we will continue to transmit to car radios in the parking lot. I want to highlight the parking lot, lest it get overlooked. For those concerned about going in the building but desiring to get out of the house and see some others, pull your car up, tune in to 90.1FM and worship along with the community inside. We will all close with some singing outside, around the island.

It has been a challenging season as we figure out our life together in the midst of present realities. May we all continue to rest in the mercies of God and may we find our hearts and minds renewed!

 

Photo by Customerbox on Unsplash

To Believe and Belong

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“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them. Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.”

The above quote comes from Kelly Marie Tran, an actress best known for her work as Rose Tico in The Last Jedi (New York Times, August 21, 2018.) I highlight it here because it captures so well the twin two cores that mark us as humans, namely our need for a story to believe and a place to belong. What we believe at our core provides meaning for our life; it tells us who we are and what our purpose is. One of the key markers of our present cultural moment is the lack of purpose in the lives of so many. In contrast, the invitation to be a Jesus follower, through an ongoing belief in his finished work, provides ultimate meaning and purpose for those that choose to walk that path. 

Corresponding with the invitation to believe is the invitation to belong to the community of Jesus’ followers. Again, this cultural moment is characterized by intense loneliness and isolation. We are separated and grouped as people only to be discarded. But Jesus says you are mine and extends the invitation to belong to the body of Christ, in real, authentic ways.

Interestingly, the story of God’s people in the Exodus is also a story of belief and belonging. The Exodus is a journey of redemption from slavery to freedom. But it is a journey that is fraught with questions. Will we believe the God of our fathers over the power of our overlords and their gods which seem all to real? Will we believe enough to follow into unseen places, even if it means losing the only home we have? The story of the Exodus is a story of all God’s people as we see first hand how he turns turns our belief, often emanating weakly from the dark places of life, into glorious belonging as he reminds us that we are His own! 

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Exodus 19:4–6a

I am excited to start this journey together.

 

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