Renewal, New Life, Born Anew/Born from Above, New Covenant, A New Commandment… these are all characteristics of the energy and vibe of Christian faith. The ideas of renewal, reawakening, re-commitment are all dynamics of a vibrant and evolving faith in Christ!
With topics such as renewing our imaginations, our energy in marriage and family, and our investment in the Kingdom as well as our own community, this fall we will explore the graces, the gifts, and the tasks that are at work in the blessing of renewal. I hope you will join me on this journey of renewal that will take us to Advent!
A Biblical Look into Life’s 4 Key Questions
This June I’ll be preaching a 4 part series called: A Biblical Look into Life’s 4 Key Questions. The inspiration for these messages have come from discussions I have had with many of you about these very issues, and our congregation’s desire for more spiritual growth opportunities.
Here are the questions we will grapple with:
- What can we know about God?
- Why is there such suffering in the world and what does this say about the “human condition”?
- Where do we look for security and happiness?
- What hope is there after our lives end?
All religions attempt to deal with these questions and our faith meets them head on. What does Christianity really say about these matters?
I imagine we all ponder these mysteries from time to time. Do you have friends right now who need to hear these messages?
If so – invite and bring them!
If we pray, come prepared and engage I believe this series can be a blessing in our spiritual formation and growth!
Advance the Vision has given Rejoice some clear priorities: stewardship, inviting others to church, and spiritual growth. Spiritual growth can mean different things to each of us. And it can and should mean something new to us in each stage of our lives. Spiritual growth is an evolving reality that changes as we age, gain more experience and encounter the joys and agonies of human existence! As I approach the task of preaching on this theme I would like to describe spiritual growth like this…
Spiritual growth is:
~ a deepening awareness of God’s presence in our lives, often manifested by wisdom and peace
~ a desire to know Christ and to make him known
~ a power from the Holy Spirit that infuses our lives with grace, faith, hope and love
Here is a snapshot of how the first Christians grew spiritually: “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers” Acts 2:42
What is the distilled essence of this? These initial disciples gave spiritual growth the energy it deserved, they were engaged with each other around the teaching and in the fellowship (i.e. hanging out together and serving with love), and they worshiped together consistently.
If we want to renew our spiritual growth it may be wise to remind ourselves what spiritual growth means to us and ask: are we keen to give the energy, the engagement and the participation in worship that is necessary to grow?
In my next blog I’m going to suggest a time honored way to read the Bible meditatively and to pray responsively to that reading. But for now all I’d like to suggest is to take time for silence each day this week. Remove all distractions and to simply create a few minutes of quiet. Just 5 or 10 minutes is a good way to begin. In that time make yourself available to God and see what happens! Reflect on the Acts 2:42 passage and ponder what it might be saying to you. Think about the definition I have suggested above and see it that rings true with your desire for spiritual growth. Conclude with a prayer for yourself, others and Rejoice.
See what happens and enjoy it!!!!
In last Sunday’s message I retold Jesus words:
whoever comes to me, hears my word, and acts on them will be like the person who builds their house on a rock…
Listening is not automatic and it’s not easy. With the multitude of devices, ubiquitous media, and plentiful distractions, listening to Jesus demands intentionality. I start my day with prayer, silence, guided reflection and scripture reading.
When that is done I read the New York Times … and that is often a ticket to howling despair. The serenity of the spiritual moment is rocked by the jarring realities of the world. The stories in the news, like a giant magnet near a fine watch, can disturb any sense of peacefulness and twist up the insides.
In the midst of a broken world the church is meant to be a sign, a witness, and a foretaste of the Kingdom! In our own way the great calling we have is to be a community where love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit is experienced. And this takes place in hundreds of ways where people are gathered in Christ’s name.
This week I got calls from people telling me how their lives have been blessed by the way they have been welcomed so warmly by others when they came to Rejoice, and how the ministry of meals to the home meant so much. In these simple acts in concert with worship, Rejoice becomes who we are: a Place where God is experienced, Community is Shared and Lives are Changed.
Never forget that you have a part to play in making Rejoice a sign, a witness, and a foretaste of the Kingdom. When you show up with love and energy in ways small and large you have no way of knowing how God will bring blessing!!!! This week take time to come to Jesus, listen to his word, and put it into practice.
Advance the Vision has been our strategic and tactical planning throughout this year where we have been gathering to faithfully and prayerfully discern our shared hopes for Rejoice, our common concerns, and the ways we can put our ideas into action – and it has been a great blessing to us! The gift of Advance the Vision has been clarity of purpose and that purpose is simple: to grow in our ability to invite people into the life of faith, to grow spiritually, and to grow in the stewardship of our time, talents and money.
One aspect of stewardship is to use our gifts and serve others. Many of us are gifted in serving in the ministry of word and sacrament and it is good and NECESSARY for those gifts to be used! To preside at Holy Communion is a great honor and a great gift. One of the blessings of Luther was he made it clear from the Bible that the priesthood of all believers is vital to the life and health of the church!
I have wanted for some time to give more people the opportunity to use their gifts to be a blessing to our community in this beautiful ministry. I believe it beneficial to the church to have more servants of word and sacrament because it is biblical, Lutheran, and enhances the energy of faith in our community. This is really the reason I want to share this blessing with others in our church. It’s an authentic witness that we take the priesthood of all believers seriously and give full opportunity for more people’s gifts to be used! I will continue to preside at communion (and I am humbled and thank God every time for the privilege to serve), but in this year I’d also like to share this joy on an intermittent basis with others. So for from now on, you will see others stepping up to serve in this beautiful way!
Someone asked: does having others serve Holy Communion mean that Pastor Lou and Jeanette are beginning the process of leaving Rejoice? My answer to that is: absolutely NO!!!! (You are not that lucky!) Good pastors are called to raise up all sorts of leaders, and leaders of word and sacrament are part of that calling. For those of you who grew up Roman Catholic you are not used to seeing “lay” people serve in this way, but it does come from the New Testament itself (Cf. I Peter 2: 9-10) and it is at the very core of Lutheran theology and identity!
Having more eucharistic ministers is one way we are faithful to our call to stewardship! If this is something you feel called to do, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you, God bless you , and the peace of the Lord be always with you,
Join us on Wednesday evenings during Lent where we will experience unique & personal opportunities to honor our Lenten theme of “The Journey Inward.”
- February 20, March 6 & March 20 will be evenings of prayer & reflection with a guided journey designed to strengthen and enhance your prayer life. This self-directed journey will begin at 7:00 and conclude at 8:00 – you may start and end at your own pace (expect to spend between 20-30 minutes).
- On February 27 & March 13, from 7:00-8:00 pm, Pastor Lou will lead us in ways that we can enrich our faith lives and connect with God more deeply.
The Journey Inward continues next Wednesday, March 13th between 7:00-8:00 PM at Rejoice – we hope you will join us for your own journey inward.