April 21, 2019
Josh looks at the Easter story from the Gospel of John. We come to the Easter story often to celebrate what God has done, but that's not the end. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb to mourn and when the tomb was empty, she wanted to find the Jesus she knew. But that Jesus wasn't there. There's a version of Jesus that may need to die in our own lives, so that the One who formed us can speak our name in our darkness and whisper, "I see you" and reveal to us the new thing that He wants to do in and through us. The worship journey for this week: "Resurrection isn't just a reunion but an invitation into God making all things new."
Josh shared a couple of quotes this week: (1) Nancy Pittman -- "Scholars often remind us that the resurrection narratives are really commissioning stories, sending believers into the world to tell all that death is not the last word. Otherwise, no one would ever know what happened, and Easter would be just a reunion story with tears and hugs all around. However, Mary obeys the risen Jesus, fighting her impulse to cling to a familiar body, and leaves the garden to tell what she knows to be true. An expected ending is now a beginning - of telling the truth about life to those who want only to deal in death, of offering living water and the bread of life to those who want only to buy and sell commodities that perish. Mary speaks, and in her speaking we find our own voice."
(2) C.S. Lewis (from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) -- "Aslan is a lion -- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he -- quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion." ... "Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. ... "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
April 14, 2019
Sara looks at Jesus' entry into Jerusalem the week before His crucifixion as described in Luke's gospel. We see the people celebrating Jesus' arrival, and we see -- in Jesus' weeping -- that He knows the people have a different vision of what His arrival means. Even today, we have a vision of what following Jesus means or what Jesus should do. Are we willing to lay down our vision of His Kingdom? What things does Jesus have to tear down in us to bring peace? What stones need to be leveled to make Jesus the cornerstone? We must let His vision undo ours. The worship journey for this week: " 'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace -- but now it is hidden from your eyes.' Choosing to see and live our shalom." Luke 19:28-44; Zechariah 9:9-10; Ephesians 2:12-22.
Sara shared a quote from Fleming Rutledge regarding Jesus weeping over Jerusalem in Luke 19: "Tears are eloquent. Tears speak. Judges look for tears when they are looking for a reason to give a lighter sentence. Jesus' tears encompass the entire human tragedy.... In tears of the one man Jesus, God's complete solidarity with human pain, yes, but also with human sin is shown. And yet, we do not know the time of our visitation. We don't want to make Easter easy."
April 7, 2019
Josh looks at a couple of Old Testament passages from Isaiah 43 and Psalm 126 that use water to illustrate truths about God. Sometimes, God leads us out of a situation and rescues us. And sometimes, God leads us into places that are uncomfortable so we can lament and weep over them to learn faithfulness, patience and waiting that lead to something new and beyond our own effort. We are reminded of what God has done, but we cannot remain stuck waiting for God to do the same thing over and over. We must remember to anticipate that God is always making things new. The worship journey for this week: "Being a people that celebrate what God has done in the past, not to become nostalgic but to be reminded that He is a God with a dream that is capable of making all things new." Isaiah 43: 16-21; Psalm 26:1-6.
Josh shared a couple of quotes: (1) "God's new thing will spring forth like rivers that water the desert. Water will once again be a source of life rather than a barrier. There will be water to drink, to irrigate fields and to water livestock. The prophet speaks of a God who will cut a path through the water when it gets in the way of the divine call to freedom and will use water as a pathway through the wilderness of the world toward the new thing that God is yearning for a beloved (if disobedient) people." -- Michael Williams; and (2) "We are uncomfortable with tears, impatient with the hard work and slow process healing requires, whether the healing is physical, spiritual, emotional or all three. The images evoked here are vivid, and it is worthwhile to dwell with them long enough to understand the depth of the sorrow expressed." -- Kimberly Clayton.
March 31, 2019
Josh looks at Joshua chapter 5 when the manna stops, and the Israelites are about to feed on the land of Canaan. God is always rolling something away and leading us into something new. Joshua pauses in the plains to remember what God had done for them before they enter this new land. We can see ourselves in this Joshua story. We come out of our wilderness and fail to remember that God provided the new land we are embarking on. We lose sight of the source of the land we possess -- the things that matter -- the things we've been given. The worship journey for this week: "God is continually inviting us to look past what is provided to the source. Developing a dependence on Him as He makes things new." Joshua 5:9-12; Deuteronomy 24:17-22.
March 24, 2019
Bill looks at the wrong Old Testament lectionary passage for Sunday to discuss humility using the story of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers. We tend to view humility as the opposite of pride and can find ourselves in the trap of shame as a result. What if humility isn't the opposite of pride or shame? True humility steers clear of either trap and can help us see ourselves and others the way God does. Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Matthew 23:1-12.
March 17, 2019
Josh looks at a passage from Philippians where Paul tells the church to imitate him and those in their community who are walking just a few steps ahead in their walk with Jesus. Paul cautions them about having appetites for things that are destructive. But even things we think are good may not satisfy or lead to health. Do you know your appetites? We must if we want to overcome what does not bring us into wholeness and health. Philippians 3:1-4:1.
March 3, 2019
Josh looks at the Transfiguration in Luke's gospel and reminds us that the point of Jesus' gospel is to be on the mountaintop and then come down the mountain and let what happened spill out into our lives. The worship journey for this week: "Being a people who experience Jesus on the mountain and then are willing to come down the mountain and involve ourselves in the realities in the world. Being present with Jesus as He shines the light of His Kingdom into these places, always drawing from the past, believing in God's future and listening to Jesus for how to do it." Luke 9:32-45.
February 24, 2019
Dr. Chris Green, Professor of Theology at Southeastern University, visits RCC and teaches on part of Jesus' sermon on the plain and Jesus healing the slave of a Roman centurion in Luke's Gospel. Dr. Green explores the depth of Jesus' call to "love your enemies," looking at why we are to love others without expecting anything in return, how we are to love those who take advantage of us, and how the idea that "being kind to people who are sinning condones their sinning" undercuts our Christian witness. Luke 6:26-7:10.
Dr. Green shared a couple of quotes as well: (1) Thomas Merton - "You can't prove your love for God by hating those who seem to be God's enemies." and (2) St. Isaac the Syrian -- "Shame the lover of righteousness by your compassion for the unrighteous, and you will be like God."
February 17, 2019
Josh looks at the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Luke with an eye towards what Jesus is revealing about Himself. We see Jesus healing people in the crowd of any number of outward things, but we also see that Jesus is more concerned with being invited into our hearts to heal the deeper things that trip us up. Is Jesus allowed to say to you what those things are that He wants to heal and work through with you? There are some things we need to wrestle through with Jesus. The worship journey for this week: "Understanding the heart of Jesus that is revealed in the Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor and the hungry, those who cry, those who people hate and are excluded. Luke 6:17-26; Luke 4:17-21.
February 10, 2019
Josh looks at part of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians -- a church that was grappling with divisions. Instead of drawing hard lines, Paul calls them to unity by focusing them on the simple truths of Jesus: He died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised on the third day. And He appeared to many. In a way, Paul is following Jesus' example by not drawing hard lines, as we see in how Jesus handled the crowd wanting to stone an adultress in the Gospel of John. The worship journey for this week: "Becoming a community that leans into the common grounds of our core beliefs about Jesus Christ. That Christ died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again." Josh shared this quote from Lewis Galloway during the message: "Whenever Christ turns a life around, heals a marriage, transitions a bitter heart, forgives a sinner, teaches a fearful heart to love, or shows a greedy person how to give, there is a witness ready to take the stand to tell the good news of God's grace." Luke 4:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; John 8:1-11.