Saturday, July 13, 2013

"lost" .... the value of one

This week I will begin a 3 week look at Luke 15 and the very non PC possibility that people might be "lost".  I personally believe that its not a merely a possibility, rather its a tragic reality.  Within this we will be faced with the incredible value that Jesus puts on the individual, as well as the, nearly as tragic, reality that we often choose to ignore our role in resolving someone's lostness, both as individuals and as the church.  This week as we begin we will look at the seemingly unreasonable actions of a shepherd who risks 99 already present and accounted for to go off in search of 1 who is not.  Its a parable of the church and religious communities and the risks that are being implied for the Church as well as the individual.  Its a parable of great risk accompanied by great reward.  Come to think of it, all three of these parables illustrate great risk and the accompanying great reward.  For myself personally and to some extent the community of WSCC it will be a peek into the idea of planting new churches.  Why would we do that (Joanne and I)?....Why would the church do that (WSCC and beyond)?.  What is the risk?  What is the reward?  What is the value?  What did Jesus do? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New series for a new era

This past week we celebrated history in the making as our church family, for the first time in recent memory, began a journey of one unified worship environment in one worship time.  To be fair, we recognize that this is not without its struggles and sacrifice to make this all happen.  We have much to learn as we move forward together in this experience, but we also have much to demonstrate to those who surround us, those whose lives are as broken as the walls that Nehemiah encountered.  I think it very appropriate then that our Summer teaching / preaching series take us on a journey through the book of Nehemiah.  The story of Nehemiah recalls a time when Gods people, after having been separated and scattered for some time, had the opportunity before them, to come together in one effort, against great odds and opposition, to rebuild their city and to renew their commitment to God.  People of all generations, backgrounds and families came together with one common purpose.  Join us this Summer as we seek to learn what we can from God's Spirit, alive and well within these pages of scripture and as we seek to demonstrate what lives, from every generation and committed to Christ, can demonstrate to broken lives all around us.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Unity in Diversity

Last week in 1 Corinthians 11 we identified the essential goal of unity for the church in Corinth, so much so that their time observing the sacrament of communion was at stake.  This week we move into the 12th chapter and begin to explore that, although the community of the church is comprised of a diverse lot, the goal and intent is unity even within the diversity.  The key here is Paul's claim that the diversity of the gifts is intended for the common good.  In other words, our diversity is not to establish ourselves as unique, but to glorify God.  It's not about us, but our responsibility is to contribute our uniquely given abilities to the common good.  Take the opportunity to explore your won unique wiring and prayerfully consider what part you might play.

Friday, May 3, 2013

new series ...new challeges

This week we begin a 5 week series based around the reality that we were created for community...not only community with God, but community with each other.  To study this we will be journeying through part of the book of 1 Corinthians to explore some of Paul's teachings directed towards a healthy creation of a Christ centered and Christ following community.  In week one we will be examining some of what stands between us and our ability to focus wholeheartedly on our worship of God.  Spoiler alert - This particular passage is a tough one to interpret and one of those "does this really have meaning for us in our day or was it only relevant to the times?" types of passages.  The short answer is that yes there is relevance to us and our worship practices today.  If you want the long answer, you'll have to join us Sunday morning.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Week 12 ... is the change evident?

It's finally here .... week 12 of our study.  When I first picked this up last Fall and began to go through it in preparation for this series on being "Sent" I knew that, if we took it seriously, then we as individuals and we as the community of faith known as WSCC would never be the same.  I had no idea what that would mean literally, and I had no idea that I would be one of the ones radically changed.  But here we are, and as I hear many of your stories on how this has played out in your own life, as I consider its impact on mine, and as I see where we at WSCC are headed, I can't help but be amazed.  The power of the words of Scripture can only truly be revealed through the lives of those who read them and then live them.  The question that I have left though is a fairly practical one and its the same one that this last chapter demands from us. 
In short, the question is "now what?".  Where do we go from here?  How does this look from the inside of our lives to the outside of the world we've been "sent" into?  What habits will propel me forward?  What relationships will sustain this?  Will we continue to push outwards or be drawn back to the safety of the middle?  This week we will wade through the 10th chapter of the book of Hebrews and some very practical reality for the church.  One simple thing that we are told there is that we are to continue to meet together, without fail, to "spur one another on".  Basically...where are you on Sunday morning when the community gathers?  Its disturbingly ironic that we can pack the church out on Easter Sunday and then follow it with 3 of our lowest attended weeks of the year.  In a world where people are LONGING for connection and relationship, this is an important message to them...community happens here.  When people come in and out of our gatherings inconsistently and then tell me that they don't feel connected, it can be rather frustrating.  People are longing for connection, we have the answer for that, and expect it to happen without any effort on our part.  
In our chapter this week there are some other practical steps that go along with this:
  • Listen to the Holy Spirit
  • Invite others to share a meal
  • Give a blessing to someone
  • Hear from the Gospels
  • Take inventory of the day
we will elaborate on what each of these looks like practically on Sunday morning...hope to see you there.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

When third is really first

This week we will be looking at one of my favorite topics for ministry...the concept known as "Third Place".  One of the best illustrations for this in our culture is pointed out in our chapter in the form of the sitcom "Cheers".  The idea of third place stems from the theory that, sociologically, most of us exist in 3 main spheres (or places).  The first being the home environment, the second being a work (or school) sort of environment, while the third is a more neutral, social, or open space.  For Christians, their church environment might be considered to be their third place.  Where it gets complicated and challenging though is that the church environment is really not a neutral space.  It is more of a club that you must meet certain criteria to feel apart of.  We need to understand that a church home is an important and vibrant part of the spiritual life of a follower of Christ.  However, if that is the extent of our "third place" involvement, or if it is so extensive that we have no real time for any other "third place", then there is little to no chance of us really living missionally to our fullest potential.  The third place is where anyone can come, its a neutral, no agenda atmosphere where we can develop relationships over common activities, values, enjoyments.  It might be a coffee shop, an athletic league, a fitness center, a local restaurant or bar. Some well meaning church communities over the years have been intrigued by this concept and have created third places...however, practically speaking, they've just "Christianized" secular concepts.  So we have a history of "Christian" coffee houses, "Christian" basketball, soccer, baseball leagues, "Christian" book clubs, and on and on. 
Missional living means that we live, love, and learn on common ground. We build relationships on the common ground of common gathering spaces and then we are able to speak into lives from a relevant point of contact.  In recent history here, the idea of "Third place" has driven some of our facilities and their uses.  We turned an unused school building into a thriving community of art and artists...no prior faith required to be part of it.  We turned unused green space into community gardens...no faith required to be part of it.  We built an "Activity Center" which sees more than half of its use by community groups...no faith required.  You'll notice that in all of these, there are no previous "belief system or particular worldview" necessary to enjoy these third places.  The create space and meaning and opportunity for those close to and far from Christ to spend time together.  The important thing to know in all this though is that through these, it is not enough to just provide the space...we also need to provide the "salt" of conversation and relationship.  That is where missonal living begins.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Margins for those on the Margin

This week we are exploring the parable of the sheep and the goats.  In it the question goes out to Jesus, "when did we see you....".  In fact it goes out from both those who are sheep and those who are goats.  It seems as if the only difference....the one thing that dictates whether one is a sheep or a goat is not in whether they "saw" Jesus or not...it was in how they treated those whom Jesus said that he could be seen in.  The people that he was describing were people that you and I would probably recognize as those on the margins.  Those whom at times we'd rather not see.  Those whom we have little to no time for.  There is something lacking within all of us at times that makes it so much more difficult to regard these people whom Jesus identifies as "the least of these".  What is lacking is what our chapter identifies as "biblical hospitality".  Shauna Neiquist, in a recent post, sums up the sort of posture and attitude that is crucial for our ability to practice this discipline:

"I want you to tell someone you love them, and dinner’s at six. I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter. I want you to light a burner on the stove, to chop and stir and season with love and abandon. Gather the people you love around your table and feed them with love and honesty and creativity. Feed them with your hands and the flavors and smells that remind you of home and beauty and the best stories you’ve ever heard, the best stories you’ve ever lived. "

The key to this attitude, in my opinion, is found in the idea of "margins".  What I mean is simply this:
We rarely consider people on the "margins" of our culture, often times only because we haven't established margins in our own lives...meaning, we literally don't allow ourselves enough time and space to even consider anyone beyond ourselves and those who are at the very top of our totem pole.  We have put no margins or boundaries in our lives which would allow us time, energy, and even resources to deal with anyone who is even a few degrees outside of our priority zone.  This is what makes Jesus' words so very relevant to our journey today.  It is those very people that we may not feel that we have the time or energy for that we must find a way to engage.  After all, the implication is that if we don't have time for them, we don't have time for him.