What is it we are doing when we gather for worship -- who should gather and how should we be together? The ancient word Ekklesia is defined as “a called-out assembly or congregation.” This Summer we will explore the scripture to learn more about that word and what God desires for us when we come together in the church.
We are entering the season of Lent. Just as the season of Advent helps us to prepare for the birth of Christ at Christmas, Lent prepares us for Good Friday and Easter.
Lent is about Jesus. It is a season of preparation and repentance in which we are invited to make our hearts ready for remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus. During these 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, Lent is a time for us to remember that we are sinners in need of our Savior. It's a season to reflect on our lives, to reconsider how we are living in light of the presence and power of God made available to us in Jesus. It's a time to reflect on our lives as they are, and how they could be.
During this season, we want to refocus our lives on God and the call he has placed on us. That's why it's a common practice at Lent to give something up. But it's not about the giving-up or missing that which we've removed from our lives during this season – it's about clinging to Christ when we realize how often we turn to the perishable things of this world. It exposes the sin we bear when we set anything as more important than the One who is sovereign over all.
Who was Jesus? What did He stand for? What was His mission? These may seem like obvious questions for those of us who have been a part of the Church for many years. Maybe they are, but trying to answer those questions for someone who has no background in the faith may be more complex. It will take more than a quick "elevator speech" to rightly introduce Jesus!
As we continue in the gospel of Luke over these next few weeks, we'll notice how Jesus is revealed. He is the long-expected Messiah that has been foreshadowed in the passages we’ve been studying since September. He is the one many of us have heard about from a very early age in Sunday School. Even so, let’s ask God to give us eyes to recognize Him even more clearly in order that we might follow Him more faithfully.
The disruption to “normal” life that we have been experiencing over the past 6 months has left many of us feeling uprooted. The routines and relationships we once took for granted are no longer available to us, at least in the ways to which we have become accustomed. Because of this, it is tempting to believe and act as if life has fallen out of God’s control. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Our sovereign God has seen these days coming before the foundations of the earth were laid, and God has good purposes for them. God has nurtured relationships with his people through very challenging times in the past. Believing this to be true, it is critical for us to intentionally root the unfolding story of our life in the unshakable foundation that God’s story provides.
The Narrative Lectionary offers the sweep of the biblical story from Creation to the formation of the Church, and will be our guide from September through May. It will provide the focus for preaching, Bible study, family discipleship, and personal reading. You can learn more about the Narrative Lectionary at http://www.workingpreacher.org/narrative_faqs.aspx
As a result of the Pandemic, we have been thinking deeply and creatively about worship. This is good and necessary. However, let’s also recognize that the way we live our lives is an act of worship that has nothing to do with whether we can enter the sanctuary or not. Romans 12:9-21 offers a list of practical worshipful actions that will guide our thinking this summer. These actions are as necessary as ever as we share the gospel with a deeply hurting world.
In the beginning, the Church wasn’t even called the Church. Those who had devoted their life to Jesus became known as followers of “the way.” The book of Acts reveals how the presence of God in the person of the Holy Spirit led this group to redefine “the way” to worship God, as his kingdom is revealed through pretty extraordinary circumstances.
The season of Lent calls us to make a journey together. Over these six weeks, we are encouraged to deeply consider the gift of eternal life that is available to us in Jesus Christ. As we consider the love, dedication, sacrifice, and triumph of Jesus, we may recognize anew the call to grow in these attributes ourselves, walking with Him. The key to experience a renewed faith in this way is to share the journey with others.
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!
In the new year individuals and families frequently take inventory of their life and resolve to improve in some area of weakness. In Pastor Clint’s opinion, “prayer” is an area of weakness in the First Pres Maumee family. Though we would all claim to value prayer, rarely is prayer the first response of our congregation (or its pastor) in any critical moment or opportunity for decision. This is a cue that we do not adequately understand or value this gift that God extends to his people. Therefore, we will take 7 Sundays in the first months of the year to study God’s Word about prayer.
As you are thinking about making new starts for the new year, consider your relationship with God. Join us each Sunday as we learn about prayer from God's Word and pray as you may never have before.