Josh walks us through Isaiah 12 where we hear Isaiah giving thanks for the salvation of the Lord roughly 200 years before their captivity ended. Isaiah embodies hope for them. We know people who feel hopeless and empty, and they need to see the sustaining connection of intimacy that happens between a believer and Jesus. How can we bring people to the well of living water and share the hope we have? The worship journey for this week: "Salvation." Isaiah 12; Isaiah 10:20.
Jordan draws from a passage in the Book of Haggai about a time when the Israelites returned from exile and were setting about rebuilding the temple. Most of them had no recollection of the time of the first temple where the presence of the Lord dwelled. As Christians, we are God's temple, and we can draw on that reality to engage the world around us. Navigating through culture can seem shaky, but with the Holy Spirit's guidance, we can step boldly into the community and bring the peace and freedom that dwells in us. The worship journey for this week: "Rebuilding the church as unshaken people in a shaky world." Haggai 1:15-2:9; Mark 14:58; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Revelation 21:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4.
Jordan shared a quote from Robert Mulholland Jr.: "The process of being formed in the image of Christ takes place primarily at the points of our unlikeness to Christ's image. God is present to us in the most destructive aspects of our cultural captivity. God is involved with us in the most imprisoning bondage of our brokenness."
In the story of Zacchaeus, Jesus says that He came to seek and save the lost. That word "lost" refers to one who is being destroyed or actively killed. Zacchaeus was wealthy, but he was also despised, because he was a tax collector. He was lost, and Jesus called him by name and invited Himself to Zacchaeus' house. Are you able to look at the ways you are lost? Are you willing to allow Jesus to come to your house, to show you where the false narratives have taken hold, and to reveal your true identity? The worship journey for this week: "Going from distant observer to faithful disciple of Christ." Luke 19:1-10; Matthew 11:19.
Josh looks at the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector from the Gospel of Luke. We see that each person in the parable had to step away from something false they were believing about their relationship with God. In our own lives, we have moments where we identify with the Pharisee and the tax collector. It is easy to fall into the trap of depending on what we have or what we are successful at. What would we depend on if those things were taken away? What is sustaining you right now? How is Jesus drawing you into a space where He can be your sustainer? Josh also shares some news about our new Worship Coordinator. The worship journey for this week: "Leaving false things behind." Luke 18:9-14; Psalm 51:1-8; Jeremiah 31:31-33.
Josh continues walking through 2 Timothy and calls us back to the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus. We are to be in the process of helping form the culture around us but only through what is happening in us. Our efforts to "be missional" will be limited if we're not open to Jesus working in us. Jesus speaks to us through the Bible which is more than a book. Can the Bible correct us? Can it rebuke us? Can we be encouraged by it? If we will continue in Christ, we won't run from correction or rebuke, and His encouragement will breathe life. The worship journey for this week: "Continue in Christ." 2 Timothy 1:6, 8, 2:1, 8, 3:14-4:5; Romans 15:4; Jeremiah 31:31-34.
Josh shared a quote from AJ Jacobs and Peter Holmes: "Studying the Bible is not like wrestling. It is more like wrestling itself. This opponent of mine is sometimes beautiful, sometimes cruel, sometimes ancient, sometimes crazily relevant. I can't get a handle on it. I'm outmatched. God's word does not return unto God void. The Bible does not need a disclaimer to say it is fiction. Rather, it needs a warning to those who would read it. It is so true that it will read you. Do not just read it alone. You are outmatched. As we read it, we discover all about how we are outmatched by the love and grace of God who has given us His word and given us His Son, that we might know life eternal here and now and forever more."
Josh looks at the story of Jesus healing ten lepers. One of them realizes he is healed, runs back to thank Jesus, and Jesus tells him, "Your faith has made you well." Rather than a challenge to "have more faith," what if Jesus is revealing that the way into faith starts with thankfulness? In the midst of our struggles with faith and doubt and our deconstruction, maybe returning to Jesus and being grateful for what He's done for us is a way back home. And when we can't remember, we can lean on the stories of what Jesus has done in the lives of others in the RCC family. The worship journey for this week: "Thankfulness and faith." Luke 17:11-19; 2 Timothy 2:8-15.
Looking at the mustard seed parable in Luke, Kara encourages us that Jesus wasn't calling out the disciples for a lack of faith. Rather, He was affirming that they already had what they needed. Jesus isn't concerned about the size of our faith. He wants us to follow Him. The miraculous work of the gospel that takes hold of our lives is all the faith we need for the hard things He will call us to. And when we're called to obedience -- because we know the character of the One asking something of us -- we can step into that challenging thing, because we have all the faith we need. The worship journey for this week: "It isn't the size of our faith, but the One we are putting our faith in." Luke 17:1-10; 2 Timothy 1:1-14.
Josh looks at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus from the Gospel of Luke in the context of spiritual formation and community transformation. Lazarus has a name in the story, and when we name someone, the relationship changes. The rich man is never named in the either scene of the parable. When they were alive, there was a chasm between the rich man and Lazarus, and in the second scene of the story, the chasm remains. In neither scene does the rich man see or address Lazarus by name. He is blind to him. What if the chasm in the parable describes the here and now, and we've been asked to build bridges with the people we haven't seen around us? The worship journey for this week: "Help us become a community that becomes attentive to the poor, the broken, the hungry and the thirsty on our doorsteps." Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 3:20; Matthew 25:34-40; 1 Timothy 6:6-19.
Josh looks at a couple of passages in 1 Timothy and James, encouraging us to step into prayer. We often resist stepping back into prayer because it reminds us of the type of connection we have with God. Josh explains that Jesus mediates on our behalf -- interceding for us. When we pray, we are entering a conversation that is already taking place. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are already working on the concerns we bring, and we have the opportunity to sit and listen for the truth they want to share about our concerns. In that space, we can experience the intimacy with Jesus we seek -- the intimacy that we need to experience everything good that God has for us. The worship journey for this week: "Stepping into prayer." 1 Timothy 2:1-7; James 5:13-20.
Josh listed a number of prayer practices for us to consider: Breath Prayer, Centering Prayer, Contemplative Prayer, Conversational Prayer, Fixed Hour Prayer, Fasting Prayer, Inner Healing Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Labyrinth Prayer, Listening Prayer, Liturgical Prayer, Prayer of Lament, Prayer Partners, Praying Scripture, Prayer of Recollection/Examen, Prayer Walking, and Welcoming Prayer.
Looking at this week's passages from the lectionary, Jordan unpacks why RCC is offering something like The Table for our community. There are scores of people around us who identify as "post-Christian" or "unchurched" who are open to talking with people about matters of faith but aren't interacting with Christians who can have those discussions in non-judgmental ways. We hear parables like the lost sheep and tend to identify ourselves as the "one" that Jesus is seeking when, more often than not, we are in the "99." We allow fear or compartmentalization to keep us from listening to the "ones" who have stories to tell about what's going on under the surface. But if we'll invite them to our tables and listen, we'll have opportunities to share how Jesus helps us continually overcome many of the same burdens, anxieties, and obstacles in our own lives. The worship journey for this week: "Sinners, Saints, and the Seats at God's Table." Luke 15:1-10; Psalm 14:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:15.
Jordan shared the following statistics during his message.
In the United States:
- 85% of churches are stalled/declining.
- 14% are growing from transfers.
- 1% are growing from conversions.
- 96 churches are closing every week.
- 20.4% of Americans attend church.
- 38% of Atlantans are "post-Christian/unchurched."
- 95-97% believe that part of the Christian faith is witnessing about Jesus.
- 47% of Christian millennials find evangelism to be morally wrong (GenX = 27%).
- 62% of non-Christians say that they would be open to talking about faith matters with someone who listens without judgment.
- 34% of non-Christians know Christians that will discuss faith matters without judgment.