In spite of the chilly November morn, we were welcomed warmly by Pastor Brad Shannon as we gathered to worship and honor our Lord Jesus Christ. The service seemed quite special as even the announcements dovetailed with the message delivered by today's guest speaker, the Rev. Jim Fretheim, Conference Superintendent. Brad reminded us that we are not an isolated church, but part of something much larger. As it turns out, these comments pointed to the heart of today's message.
Announcements today included...
1. Joanne W. reminded us that there will be a break after Dec. 7 for Sunday school.
2. Women's Bible Study will begin in January.
3. Next Sunday evening there will be a special Thanksgiving Sunday evening service in Brookston.
4. We were reminded to continue filling our soup cans for Covenant World Relief.
5. The Pastie Sale to raise money for CHIC is taking place now. Order yours from Eric Borndal... They will be delivered to the church.
Jim Fretheim was then introduced, and presented with a framed drawing and a mug, both portraying themes pertaining to hunting, of which he is fond. Pastor Brad thanked him for being with us today. Early in his ministry, Brad served as youth minister in Jim's church, an experience in which they developed a mutual respect.
Darlene played a creative Shine Jesus Shine as introduction to worship, which was led by Brad, Elle and Pearl. After the offering was taken Ed Newman sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" with Darlene as accompaniment. The hymn, which has been comforting to Christians for more than 150 years, served nicely as a lead in to the message.
We're All Part of a Team
Rev. Fretheim began by drawing attention to a passage in Ecclesiastes. "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (Eccles. 4:12)
Using this text as a springboard, he noted that a hockey team has six player, basketball teams have five and it takes eleven to make a football team. How many does it take to make a church? According to Matthew 18:20, it only takes two, for as Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them."
In Christianity, spiritual maturity is based on interdependence, not independence. This interdependence is important.
New Life Covenant is linked to the Northwest Conference of the Covenant Church is part of a global church family. Our denomination itself is part of the large family of God that spans the globe. As Superintendent of the Northwest Conference, their small staff meets daily for prayer, seeking to help those that are hurting. Every day they ask, "How can we help?"
We're all part of a team. There are others who care about us even when we don't know it. When life gets hard, we especially need to be on a team.
This was not a theory Jim learned from text books. At age 22 he lost his wife to cancer while in Seminary. Drawing from this experience he stated, "Unless we're part of a team we won't get through the hard times."
Hard times are inevitable. Hence the relevance of Harvey Mackey's book titled, "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty."
In Chicago, Jim said there's a saying on the street: "Who's got your back?" We don't go it alone.
He also thanks us for the generosity of our church. A portion of the money in our offerings goes to feed the hungry, bring the gospel to prisoners, band aids to Third World hospitals and more. All this is a team effort. "You are part of a larger family. There are Covenant churches everywhere."
He also talked briefly about the key to healthy churches and shared a story about John Wesley. Wesley and his brother were evangelists who planted churches throughout 18th century England. Wherever there had been a revival, Wesley would write letters a few years later as a follow up to determine what had become of the experience. In his letters he asked three questions.
1. Where's the faith?
2. Where's the fire?
3. Where's the fruit?
In the opening passage from Ecclesiastes, it was noted that two are better than one. In addition, three strands are stronger than two. The Good News of the Gospel is that we don't have to do it on our own. We're part of a team.