Josh looks at a couple of passages from Isaiah and Luke that together illustrate that sometimes the mission of Jesus as Peacemaker means that things will get worse before they get better and that the journey is one of long obedience no matter what it costs. We've been invited into the gospel of peace, and we are called to be people of justice and righteousness. So when we see people, systems, or situations that are oppressive, unjust, unethical or corrupt, we may need to call that out, lovingly challenge, or work towards unsettling it, which may cost us something. The worship journey for this week: "Sometimes, the mission of Jesus as peacemaker means that things will get worse before they get better. Becoming a people of long obedience no matter what it costs." Isaiah 5:1-7; Luke 12:49-56; Luke 1:79.
Here is a link to the Jars of Clay song that Josh referenced in service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjE-Rh4ugHI
As we transition from rest to groups season, we hear about the variety of life groups, spiritual formation, and special interest groups planned for the fall. Sara also shares how Jesus' idea of kingdom is broader than our tendency to find people who look like us and think like us and encourages us to take a step towards that as we find a group this season. Hebrews 11:13-16; Luke 12:32-34; Revelation 7:9.
Dr. Chris Green, Professor of Theology at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, talks with us about with issue of racism and how we are to respond to it as followers of Jesus. The problem of racism is built on the lie of superiority which permeates most of the distinctions we make between "us" and "them." But we read in Colossians that Jesus has overcome and destroyed these distinctions. "Christ is all and in all." As a people of faith, we've done a good job of putting away unrighteousness or doing away with wrongdoing, and some of us show mercy to those impacted by racism. But mercy will never change the injustice of racism. We have to do justice, and that responsibility rests with those with the power. Colossians 3:9-11; Colossians 3:5, 12-14, 22.
Dr. Green also serves as Teaching Pastor at Sanctuary Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma: https://www.sanctuarytulsa.com/
Teddy Hart, from Parish Long Beach, shares a beautiful message on what it means to be prayerful. Looking at Jesus' teaching about prayer and a parable about a man looking for bread for a friend who is visiting, we see that prayer is something we let Christ do in us, so it brings about an animation in our bodies beyond the kind of words we pray. That prayerfulness engenders hospitality, generosity and neediness in us that compels us to move beyond the indifference that can get in the way of seeing God in a stranger or an enemy. Luke 11:1-13.
You can learn more about the church that Teddy and Krystle Hart pastor by visiting the church's website: https://www.parishlb.com/
Bill walks through the Lectionary passages for this week, and we see that humanity's pursuit of wealth and power drives a wedge between themselves and their relationship with God. We often choose the fleeting over the lasting things that God has for us and those choices make it difficult, and at times seemingly impossible, to hear the words of the Lord. The worship journey for this week: "Becoming a people who understand that Christ is in all things and also understand that Christ's preeminence means we are to be a people that cares about the things Christ cares about." Colossians 1:15-28; Amos 8:1-12; Luke 10:38-42; Psalm 52.
Jordan looks at several passages from the Old and New Testament and reminds us that God has always called us to love God and love our neighbor, because when we live in that space, we share a living hope with others around us. The worship journey for this week: "Becoming a people that live in hope through neighborly love." Amos 7:7-17, 8:4-6; Psalm 82:1-4; Genesis 12:1-3; Luke 10:25-37; Colossians 1:1-6.
Coming off a week at OneCamp, Jonathan and Kara invite us to walk with our students returning from the "big" experience of camp, so they see that the Lord's whisper is just as strong and life-giving as what they witnessed at camp. They encourage us to engage our students, invest in their lives, and entrust them to the Lord. Luke 10:1-11, 16-21; 1 Kings 19:11-12.
Josh continues presenting the new prayers of the season (POTS) and challenges us to give and serve with generosity. Looking at Luke 9, we hear Jesus make some seemingly harsh statements to His disciples and to others who say they want to follow Him. Jesus sets His face towards Jerusalem and casts the vision of God that His followers didn't understand or expect. Likewise, we don't always understand, and we expect God to act in certain ways -- elevating other things over what Jesus is calling us to. Luke 9:51-62; 2 Kings 1:10; Luke 9:3-5.
Josh shared the following quote from C.S. Lewis: " 'They say Aslan is on the move- perhaps has already landed.' And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it has some enormous meaning- either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”
Josh unpacks a couple of the new prayers of the season (POTS) and calls us to commit to praying for RCC and to being present with the RCC body. Looking at the lectionary passages from Isaiah 65 and Psalm 42, we see that God is waiting for us, but the things we spend our resources on impede us from tasting and seeing what the Lord has for us. We also read the psalmist in peril who is not longing for those things but finding solace and strength in his experiences in the house of God with his fellow worshippers. What would it look like if we committed to prayer and to being present with the RCC family even when we did not feel like it? Isaiah 65:1-14; Psalm 42.
Josh shared two quotes today: (1) John Rollefson: "Anne Lamott states: 'My prayer oscillates between the two extremes of "help me, help me" and "thank you, thank you, thank you" ' in this extended lament, the psalmist shares fond memories of joining in the festival procession to the temple, while feeling overwhelmed by unspecified circumstances that are now preventing participation. The palpable sense of yearning is offered up to God as a sacrifice of a willing spirit that seeks to be restored to full fellowship in the company of worshippers."
(2) P.C. Enniss: "However, to those of every generation who are tempted, the psalmist enjoins the skeptic to 'go to church,' where one can join the throng 'in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.' The writer knows the power of the liturgy. Many of us are in church today because years ago we were expected (and sometimes required) to go. We would not on our own have chosen to go, and when we became older, we may even have stopped going altogether, but over time we came to acknowledge our thirst. Today there are men and women in church pews, pulpits, and theological seminaries who years ago were led reluctantly to the water by kind and caring parents and friends, only to discover that they liked it. This is the power of the liturgy. The danger for so many today is, as Simone Weil pointed out years ago, 'not lest the soul should dount whether there is any bread, but lest (by a lie) it should persuade itself that is is not hungry.' "
Kara calls us into experiencing the fullness of God through the mystery of the Trinity. We may be most comfortable with the person of Jesus, but we can discern the heart of God through Jesus, who attests to God's character, if we will invite Him into that conversation. We can also trust the Holy Spirit -- sent by Jesus for our benefit -- to guide us to Truth, even if others have misrepresented the Spirit before us. The worship journey for this week: "Being guided by the Spirit, may we journey with one another to know the heart of God through Jesus." John 16:4-15; Romans 5:1-5.
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