God’s blessings fill you during these trying times. Much of our lives have
been disrupted. We are scrambling to find new ways to deal with new realities in
a world full of unknowns. We daily live with a new form of stress, tension, and
fear previously not a part of our day to day living. Some are even asking, how will
we get along in the days ahead?
Any of us can go through a season where we forget that we are the beloved
children of a God who created us, placed us in the world, and told us to care for all
of creation. So let me remind you, Jesus came to show us God is with us. Jesus taught us to follow him in a way that reveals God’s love, given to us, is also given to the world. Jesus encourages us not to react to the world around us, but respond to God’s grace choosing to let our actions reveal our trust in a God who provides for us.
So where do we begin? To remember our Lord God? To develop a deeper trust in him? To move past our fear? To figure out how to respond in a world filled with anxiety? We begin by listening to our Lord God who speaks to us. We allow what God says to go deep into our hearts and minds. Then we look to live it out in our lives.
Pick one encouraging phrase from the Bible: long or short does not matter. Get outside and take a walk, or sit with a steaming cup of your morning beverage, and allow your mind to turn that phrase over and over again in your head. You may even choose to say it out loud, or whisper it to yourself. But keep saying that phrase until you know it’s true. Until you feel the anxiety leaving your body. Until you have some direction for how to respond in a Christ-like, life-giving manner.
Some may say this is going to take too long. It took a long time for you to lose your way. Why not begin the spiritual journey home by taking a step in a different direction? My hope is that what is written is nothing more than encouragement for what you are already doing. But if not, know Jesus is with you; reach out to him. Know you are loved; live in that love. Don’t react to bad news; respond to the Good News of Jesus inside of you.
Pastor Bill Zima
The Church Council is beginning to share a new sense of mission. For a long time, our vision for the mission was to reach out and touch those whom God has placed among us. Every ten years or so, it’s time to take a hard look at ourselves and ask, how have we changed? How has the world changed around us? And what new thing is God doing among us?
In brief, our world has changed a lot in 10 years. Technology has us more connected across greater distances; yet, more people struggle with loneliness and isolation. Church attendance is down across the nation, not necessarily just because people are leaving the church, but also because of the proliferation of Sunday options. Most everyone now has a platform to give voice to their opinion without having to listen to the opinions of others; the truth has been relegated to the realm of spun opinion. Time and wisdom (the application of knowledge) are just as important as money.
As much as the times have changed, there are still some common, shared needs that define our humanity. We all need community—a place, space, and people to whom we belong and in whom we find acceptance. We all worship—glorify something as the source of joy and provision in our lives so we give it huge amounts of our attention. We all look to serve—though some choose to serve themselves more than others. Community, worship, and service are at the heart of what it means to be created in the image of God.
Community, worship, and service happen when we choose to love; when we choose to love as Jesus loves us. After a struggle, the Church Council sensed the new thing God doing among us was actually the ancient thing the church has been doing since the Ascension of Jesus—love others by living the gospel. We are called to go and grow more deeply into each other’s lives as well as continue to extend an open hand to those needing a place, space and people in whom they find acceptance and belonging.
In this season of Lent, may your spirit grow as you love others by living the Gospel.
Love Others by Living the Gospel
The Church Council has been wrestling with words that define and describe what we do as a church community. What is our purpose? How do we go about fulfilling that purpose? And what steps do we need to take to move more fully into this future?
As we thought about scripture, the commitment of the people here, and our call to reach out sharing Jesus with those who do not know him, these words seem to best describe what we are called to do and the unique way we are gifted to accomplish what God asks. We are called to Love Others. For most of us in the church, this is not unexpected. We may not hear a radical call to be fulfilled. Then again, radical, God-like love is often misunderstood. We are called to Love—act in ways that best serve the interest of Others. This means I stop exalting my personal preferences over God’s preferences. I listen to the Others and seek God’s counsel on how to best Love them meeting their needs. Jesus serves as our example when he goes off late in the evening and early in the morning to pray. He spends time seeking God’s counsel before he engages in ministry. Then he follows the direction God led him in bringing the kingdom to bear in teaching, provision, and healing.
We are called to Love Others by Living the Gospel. Again, Jesus serves as an example. He called his disciples inviting them to “come and see” or “follow me.” Jesus invited his followers to come and do life alongside him. Living with Jesus, they experienced God’s kingdom and found Jesus’ message, the kingdom of God is close, to be true. The way we love others is by inviting them to share in our lives. As they experience our daily lives, they have a chance to see us Living the Gospel and an opportunity to experience the closeness of the kingdom of God for themselves.
Love Others by Living the Gospel is actually a very radical call because it beckons us to open our lives to those who do not know or have forgotten Jesus. Who in your life fits this description? This mission summons us to reveal the closeness of God’s kingdom by putting the needs of others ahead of our own trusting that God will provide for us in our need. Who do we need to listen to carefully to discern their need?
Love Others by Living the Gospel,