Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:00 a.m. and the worship service resumes at our regular 10:15 a..m. hour. After greeting us, Brad stated that he would be talking about community, and the importance of being connected.
Announcements began with a thank you letter from Cindy Anderson, who now has a new set of lungs and moving into a healthy full recovery. The letter included a reminder to live each day as if it were your last. An insert in the bulletin noted that Girls Art Club will be starting up again soon. One a month Susie Newman will be leading art projects for all girls ages 9-15. Adult women are welcome as well. The art club will be held on the last Sunday of each month (Sept. 29th this month.) Contact Susie if you are interested so she can bring enough materials for everyone. Bring a bag lunch.
After the offering was taken and a time of prayer, Chuck shared from his heart and sang a duet with Darlene before leading us in songs from the silver song book.
Christianity is not a self-study initiative. It is a community who of people, intersecting circles of commitment and intimacy. To illustrate, Brad had us picture what happens at a bonfire when you roll a log out of the fire. It usually goes out. The writer of Hebrews stated that we are not to forsake meeting together.
Community helps prevent spiritual drift. Proverbs 27:17 states, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Jesus never talked about going to church. He called people to community.
Christian community is the one place where it's safe to take off our masks. In Paradise, before the fall, Adam and Eve "were naked and not ashamed." After the fall, Adam's guilt and shame led him to hide from God. It is our tendency to hide from one another that needs to be dispensed with. James 5:16 says that we need to become more transparent: "Confess your sins to one another." The reason is that you can only be loved to the extent that you are known. You can only be fully loved when you're full known. This kind of depth takes time.
Community is the place where we learn to love as Jesus loves. In His last hours with the disciples, Jesus repeatedly told them to love one another. (John 13:35, John 15:12 and 17)
Community is not easy. When you read the list of disciples you find some interesting backgrounds. One of these called ones was Simon the Zealot. A Zealot was the modern equivalent of a terrorist. The zealots were politically motivated Jews in Jesus' day who by a hatred of Roman occupation of Palestine which they found incompatible with monotheism. They had even taken an oath to kill anyone working in concert with Rome, which would include people like Matthew who was a tax collector. There economic differences between some of the other disciples. But in Jesus' circle none of these differences were to make any difference at all in the new community.
Pastor Brad concluded by encouraging us to take further steps to strengthening our community by signing up for a series of "Friendship Dinners" that we'll be having over the coming months. All who sign up will be grouped in sets of eight, so we can get to know one another in a more intimate setting... our homes.