Josh looks at part of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians -- a church that was grappling with divisions. Instead of drawing hard lines, Paul calls them to unity by focusing them on the simple truths of Jesus: He died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised on the third day. And He appeared to many. In a way, Paul is following Jesus' example by not drawing hard lines, as we see in how Jesus handled the crowd wanting to stone an adultress in the Gospel of John. The worship journey for this week: "Becoming a community that leans into the common grounds of our core beliefs about Jesus Christ. That Christ died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again." Josh shared this quote from Lewis Galloway during the message: "Whenever Christ turns a life around, heals a marriage, transitions a bitter heart, forgives a sinner, teaches a fearful heart to love, or shows a greedy person how to give, there is a witness ready to take the stand to tell the good news of God's grace." Luke 4:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; John 8:1-11.
Walking us into Groups season, Sara introduces our spring groups and then explains how groups can help us encounter the gifts of friendship with God, spiritual friendship, and Christian community. The worship journey this week: "Being formed into people who abide in friendship with Christ and each other. John 15:9-17.
Josh looks at Luke 4 where Jesus comes to Nazareth and teaches in the synagogue. He is handed the scroll, labels a passage in Isaiah 61, and builds His ministry around it. But before Jesus reaches this moment of calling, filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit had been at work calling Him "beloved" after His baptism and then testing Him in the wilderness. How open are we to the "pre-work" of the Holy Spirit before we set out trying to fulfill our calling? The worship journey for this week: "Through the example of Christ, discovering what the heart of the Gospel is." Luke 4:14-21; Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 4:1-11; Isaiah 61:1-2.
Josh shares about the Jesus and Mary at the wedding at Cana from the Gospel of John. Instead of focusing on "Jesus' first miracle," Josh contends that the story asks us what we think about Jesus. We all experience depletion of one kind or another. When we can see the abundance of Jesus when we are depleted, we should celebrate it -- recognizing Jesus' work -- large and small -- and calling it out. We are the water. Jesus' job is to turn us into wine. The worship journey for this week: "In Jesus, the gifts of God come abundantly and extravagantly. Help us to become a community that recognizes and celebrates these things together." John 2:1-11; Mark 7:3-4.
Josh looks at the psalm that David wrote in response to his choices surrounding Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. The psalm puts words to a heart that is longing to be re-created and doesn't know how to do it. David's decisions revealed things that were in his heart that he then tried to "fix" himself until he realized he couldn't fix it -- he couldn't clean his own heart. The worship journey for this week: "Becoming a community that is honest about the things in our hearts and inviting God into them." Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 11:1-15; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.
As we enter into the season of Epiphany, Sara looks at the story of the Magi visiting Jesus and explains how the revelation of God in Jesus has been celebrated by the Church throughout the world. Epiphany is an opportunity to alter our rhythm to the rhythm of the Gospel story -- repenting and re-orienting our hearts. The worship journey for this week: "Recognizing the revelation of God in our lives." Sara shared several quotes during her message: (1) Ruth Haley Barton - "The stirring of spiritual desire indicates that God's Spirit is already at work within us, drawing us to Himself. We love God because He first loved us. We long for God because He first longed for us. We reach God because He first reached for us. Nothing in the spiritual life originates with us. It all originates with God." (2) Kenneth L. Sehested - "Those for whom this 'world' is 'home' -- all who profit from current arrangements, from orthodoxies of every sort -- will take offense at this swaddling-wrapped revolt. Something new is being built; a new cornerstone (Eph. 2:20) is being laid. That is the good part. The bad part is that existing structures may be razed to make room." and (3) T.S. Eliot (from "Journey of the Magi") - "We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation." Matthew 2:1-12.
In this Christmas season, Kara draws from the story of the shepherds visiting Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus to illustrate how God doesn't always show up the way we expect Him to. The Jews hoped for the Messiah to come for generations and had an expectation about how He would do so. For most, that expectation interfered with their ability to see Him when He arrived as a baby in a manger. The shepherds came and saw, and glorified and praised God for what they heard and saw. The worship journey for this week: "What would it look like for RCC to be full of hope and celebrate even if God gives us different things than we hoped for?" Kara shared a quote from Richard Rohr about the virtue of hope: "The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves." Luke 2:15-21; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 35:5-6; Revelation 21:1-6.
On the final week of Advent, Josh shares the story of Mary visiting Elizabeth and the spontaneous song that arises within her in response to Elizabeth's blessing over her for saying "yes" to the Lord and believing in what the angel told her would happen. At the end of our lives, we may ask ourselves, "did we spend our lives on what we needed to?" Is there something that God's put in you that He's calling forth to say, "will you use this to magnify Me?" The worship journey for the week: "Becoming a community that says "YES" to God's invitation into His story that becomes magnifiers to draw attention to Him." Luke 1:39-55.
In discussing the Advent theme of "Joy," Josh notes the difference between a joy we manufacture and one that bubbles up naturally and spontaneously from an awareness and appreciation for what God has done, and is doing, in our lives. The worship journey for this week: "Becoming a community that is moved to joyously celebrate God and make His goodness known." Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:1-6; Isaiah 55:1; Ephesians 5:19; Philippians 4:4-7.
This week, Sara reminds us that Advent is not just about Jesus coming in the manger, what we refer to as the Incarnation, but also about Jesus coming again -- not in a judgmental way, but seeing it as our rescue moment where shalom finds its fullness. The worship journey for this week: "God is forming us into a people who see through the darkness into the light of the coming Kingdom." Sara shares two quotes from Fleming Rutledge: (1) "The disappointment, brokenness, suffering and pain that characterizes life in this present world is held in dynamic tension with the promise of future glory that is yet to come. In that Advent tension, the church lives its life." and (2) "Wherever people are willing to come out from the paralysis caused by fear and anger to active participation, there is the Advent spirit. Wherever there are voices in the darkness speaking out for light, there is the Advent hope. Wherever there are people willing to face danger for freedom, there is the Advent frontier. The work of God is located there." Luke 3:1-6; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:1-4.
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