We began our 200th anniversary celebration in the midst of a significant snow storm 12 months ago. How appropriate to conclude our celebration facing another significant weather event this weekend! Even with these small bumps at the beginning and end, we hope you will agree that this has been a tremendous year! We're very grateful for the significant celebration we have shared. Thanks to all who have made it possible!
During this Advent season in a sermon series entitled, "How Can I Keep From Singing" we'll spend time reflecting on the songs within the scripture that accompany our Savior's birth. My hope is that these biblical songs will not only inform the songs we sing, but the spirit we bring to this special time of year.
"Living with a Curious Hope" is a new series studying the book of 1 Peter. Within the book you'll find a command that is based on a certain presumption -- that we are living such hopeful lives, even during hard times, that those who witness it will ask where our hope comes from. It's a presumption that challenges me. I wonder if it challenges you too? Do you have people asking about your faith?
We will also be challenged to understand at a deeper level than the quick "sound bite" lesson. There are passages here that could easily be taken out of context and misused. Passages about suffering, beauty, and a faith that is visible. Even curious. There is more here in 1 Peter that we will explore together.
We are beginning a new sermon series entitled “Ascend: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” We will be looking at Psalms 120-134, which are known as the Songs of Ascents. Three times a year, the Hebrew people were commanded to go to Jerusalem to the great worship festivals, and these psalms were likely sung by pilgrims as they traveled. Topographically Jerusalem is the highest city in Palestine, and so all who traveled there spent much of their time ascending. Climbing uphill requires much more grit than going downhill, so these songs are fortifying, encouraging, always pointing us to our prize: God.
We are starting a new sermon series that is all about prayer. What are the obstacles that keep us from praying as Jesus does? What does it look like for us to approach God as children? God is inviting us to inhabit a space of dependence, messiness, and freedom from guile and fear as we lift up our hearts to the Lord in prayer. In this season of Easter, let us be bold as we pray to the One whom Jesus called abba, to the One who had the power and love to raise Jesus from the dead!
Our church staff and musicians have been preparing to lead us well on Easter morning. It will be a wonderful time of worship! The preparation that counts the most, however, will take place in your heart. The power of the Resurrection is yours if Christ is in you.
On Wednesday we began the season of Lent. "Lent" is derived from an Old English word that refers to the lengthening of days during the spring season. In the life of the Church, Lent is an invitation to lengthen our reach, asking God to take a greater place in our lives as we anticipate the Easter celebration that will mark the end of the season.
As we have in years past, we plan to "reach" together during this season. Small groups have been organized and books have been purchased in the hopes that you will join us in this reach. We will be reading "40 Days Living the Jesus Creed" by Scot McKnight. It's a brief daily devotional reading that I believe will have great impact on our life personally and corporately. The sermon series will coincide with these studies.
Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that celebration is important--it renews and strengthens us for continued service. Over the last four years our church has chosen to be transformed. As we learn about the story of Nehemiah, we will reflect on the work that God has done through the people of First Pres Maumee.
Throughout Advent we will be asking the question, "Why did God take on flesh?" or "Why was Jesus born?" These questions help us unravel what has been historically called the Doctrine of the Incarnation. Most in our society will be celebrating Christmas in the weeks to come. Many understand the holiday has to do with the birth of Jesus. However, the doctrine of the Incarnation is so mysterious that even those within the Church might struggle to answer the question. Join us as we take Hebrews, chapter 2, as our guide to more fully adore our Lord in this season.
We've been contemplating the concept of love this fall. We've considered keys to a reconciling love, we celebrated the love of God's Word that led to the Reformation 500 years ago, and in the month of November, we will be seeking to know the love of God as it is expressed in a critically important Old Testament word-- the word "hesed". As followers of Jesus, we are called to love as God loves. The best word to help us understand what this means is the word hesed. With the exception of Jesus himself, there is no better person in all the Bible to demonstrate the power of this word than Ruth, a woman of tremendous faith. Her story is told in the Old Testament.