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.
Josh looks at two Old Testament passages, and we see that the God who formed you in your mother's womb wants to continue forming you if you will listen to His voice. We need the God who lovingly reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and who carefully destroys the things in our lives that we've created that won't sustain us and often cause harm to us and those around us. Sara also shares about her six-month sabbatical. The worship journey for this week: "Creating space to allow God to form us in ordinary and extraordinary ways." Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-17, 23-24.
Josh shares passages from Luke and Jeremiah which together illustrate the importance of telling the stories of God and how He's transformed our lives. Jeremiah shines a light on the Israelites who had left behind the stories of God who rescued them from Egyptian captivity. Jesus invites us to take a posture of humility at His table where we can share our stories with people and hear their stories to help us trust that Jesus provides everything we need. What's the story that Jesus is asking you to tell?
The worship journey for this week: "Continuing to tell the stories of God at the tables He prepares and leads us to." Luke 14:7-14; Jeremiah 2:4-13.
Josh shares the story from Luke 13 about a woman crippled for 18 years who Jesus healed in the synagogue. We all deal with things that cripple us, and not all crippling is physical. We often learn or choose to live with it, but Jesus wants to heal us from those crippling things in community and redeem each and every one of us into the Body of Christ. Luke 13:10-17.
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.