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.
Josh looks at a couple of texts from the Lectionary -- the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis and the story of Pentecost in Acts. In Genesis, we see a people looking to make a name for themselves out of fear that they will be scattered, and God confuses their language to disperse His people throughout the world. At Pentecost, we see a group of people from various regions of the world experience the power of the Holy Spirit and despite their multiple languages hearing each other in their own. And God unifies them to spread the Gospel of Jesus. We continue to experience this tension between being a people of Babel and a people of Pentecost -- between trying to make a name for ourselves out of fear and resting in the truth that we've been given a name by God, knowing whose we are, and accepting the invitation to God's mission for His namesake. Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21.
Josh shared a quote from Richard Boyce: "The motivation ('let us make a name for ourselves') and the fear that drives it ('otherwise we shall be scattered abroad across the whole earth') and the battle is on. What is possible only for God -- the granting of a name, by which humanity's fundamental fears might be eased, and around which humanity's necessary unity might be achieved -- becomes here a project for humankind, independent and counter to the gifting of God."
Josh shares how the story of Lydia starts with the story of Jesus telling the disciples about leaving them and the Helper He will send. The Holy Spirit later sent Paul to Macedonia where Lydia was. The Holy Spirit then opened Lydia's heart to hear the Good News that Paul shared, and a continent was opened to the Gospel. Those convergences continue today, because God is always drawing people and always sending people. What are we doing with the Good News? Josh challenges us to focus on one of these this week:
(1) Silencing our inner critic for a season;
(2) Creating space for spiritual disciplines;
(3) Praying for openness to receive the Good News as Good News;
(4) Considering essence over specifics;
(5) Reclaiming the story of the beautiful mission of the Gospel;
(6) Who is God drawing to you? and
(7) Going when you know where God is sending, because His provision is there.
The worship journey for this week: "The intersection between human obedience to God and the Divine initiatives guided by the Spirit." John 14:23-29; Acts 16:9-15.
Our guest this week is Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns. Dr. Johns looks at a passage from Hebrews and delivers a word for the RCC family -- calling us into the mystery of Christ. One portal into the mystery of God is the Word -- the logos revealed in Scripture. Many see the Bible in a very manageable, two-dimensional way, but Dr. Johns reminds us that it is multi-dimensional. We can meet God in that space. Scripture is sacramental -- it points to the reality of Jesus, and it is a means for God to enter into our lives. Mysteriously, it feeds. It heals. It is powerful. And it brings freedom. May we embrace the many dimensions of that mystery. The worship journey for this week: "Re-enchanting the text." Hebrews 4:8-13.
Dr. Johns is a professor at Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee. She serves in the Robert E. Fisher Chair of Spiritual Renewal. She is a frequent speaker at seminaries and universities across the globe and the author of two books and countless articles and papers.
Our pastors, Josh and Sara, share their hearts about where they sense the Lord leading RCC next -- inviting the RCC family to join them. Individually, we have to know who we are, whose we are, and what we are called to. As a church family, we have to be a people who know how the Father speaks to us as a body and make it accessible again. We must follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We must find the green pastures to rest to hear the Shepherd's voice. So we can prepare a table in the presence of our enemies. We do that by keeping the first commandment first, because Jesus is the source we must listen to, who will provide the rest we need, and who will host the table we are preparing. The worship journey this week: "O God, whose Son, Jesus, is the good shepherd of Your people. Grant that when we hear His voice, we may know Him who calls us each by name, and follow where He leads; who, with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30.
Our pastors, Josh and Sara, walk us through what the Lord has done in and through RCC over the last 5 years. To celebrate, we hear from people who entered the RCC story during different phases and revisit the scriptures that steered our body each year. The worship journey for this week: Celebration in thankfulness for what God has done. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-8; Psalm 1:1-3; John 15:5; Mark 14:22-26; Joshua 5:9-12.
Josh walks us through the end of John 20, looking at the gap between what Thomas knew about Jesus and the faith to believe in the resurrected Jesus. We are all Thomas, because we all have a gap between our certainty and our faith. We need a God community that walks with us when, like Thomas, we verbalize our doubt and are working out our faith. We cannot make others believe and demanding they believe won't help either. The power of the Holy Spirit bridges those gaps and helps us live our faith in the resurrected Jesus. The worship journey for this week: "Lord, help us to believe in the Resurrection so that we can live Resurrection through our lives to the people in our world." John 20:19-31; Genesis 2:7; Revelation 12:11.