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Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

~Hebrews 10:24

 

In our highly connected age of social media, we have an unlimited number of ways to actively encourage one another, not only when we are physically meeting together, but through online outlets as well. This blog is one such outlet. Here you will find posts that are submitted by those in our community, as a practical means of carrying out the command to continually be encouraging and motivating one another in living out our discipleship.

 
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Slow Church

When church is reimagined as family, we find ourselves released from a lot of the “shoulds”. This should be done a certain way…that should happen at this particular time…services should look like this….

Shoulds can be really hard to shake off. Especially if church has been a formal and organized event, that provided some degree of routine (for those that like that sort of thing), where you knew exactly what to expect, and when. Some people appreciate a service where they could set their watch by a start and stop time, and knew exactly how many prayers and songs would come between the two.

For us, church is slow. Keep in mind, slow doesn’t necessarily mean “long” (though, from time to time, it can.) It means that it’s more relaxed. Start times are set, but observed loosely. We start when the family is mostly gathered in, hellos and hugs have been well distributed, and coffee cups are full. While this might be a frustration to some, it’s an aspect of our gathering that we have come to accept. We accept it, and even are learning to appreciate it, not because we like “sloppy” but because it is reflective of a value we hold…that the connection between us is as important as the songs we sing, or the prayers we pray. A significant part of a church community is connection with one another; we don’t just gather to Learn…we gather to Be.

Slow means that we don’t systematically and efficiently pass out the Communion. We participate in the Remembrance as a family…from the youngest to the oldest… and the bread is broken and passed by tiny hands that clamor for a chance to serve. The cup is offered to each person, one by one, and while some demurely dip their bread, children enthusiastically plunge deeply and we smile and wipe up the drips and are reminded that Jesus said we were to become like these little ones.


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Messy Church

Would you indulge me for a moment and reimagine with me what “church” could look like?

Here, in our western culture, church has typically looked and functioned like an “organization”. From corporations to schools to sports leagues…organizations operate in a much different manner than say…a family. Organizations have time frames…corporations have year ends, schools have semesters, sports leagues have seasons. There’s always a deadline or a schedule. People might (or might not!) genuinely appreciate, value, and even like those they interact with within the organization. But generally speaking, when you “clock out”, you leave behind those connections and go back to your “real life”.

Churches, quite often, have slipped into those same organizational mode of operandi. We show up to put in our time on Sunday mornings, and if we are the proverbial “over-achiever”, maybe an additional Bible study or committee meeting. We smile and offer the “Hi, how are you?” as we pass by our fellow members in the foyer, often without stopping to even hear an answer.

But imagine with me if church functioned like a big family.
 
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I, personally, am part of a big family, both on my side and my husband’s. There are lots of aunts, uncles and cousins when we gather for holiday dinners or picnics. Even my own immediate family is “sizeable” by today’s standards (we have 4 children). When we get together for dinner…we are, 9 times out of 10, running late. In fact, I probably couldn’t tell you a single family dinner that we sat down for at the exact time given. It often takes a couple calls, in multiple directions, of “DINNER!!” to gather everyone in. Even once we are seated, there is chatter and giggles and some “hush!-ing” before we join hands to give thanks.

As I was reflecting this morning on our weekly church gatherings, it brought a smile to my face to think how similar it is when we try to start our worship times. There are children scattered here, there and everywhere. People are engaged in conversations about the happenings of their weeks, of the frustrations of their jobs, or just general talk about the weather. There are looks and comments of… “I guess we should get started”, and the same wrangling that it takes to gather our family to the dinner table takes place before we can settle in and offer a prayer.


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Identity as a Child of God


This blog post is based on a message from our series The Story, studying the beginning of Jesus ministry, based on the following scriptures: Matt. 3-4, 11; Mark 1-3; Luke 8; John 1-4

 

The first public thing that Jesus did,  before beginning his ministry was to go to John to be baptized. While Jesus did not have to repent for any sin (as he was sinless), this public act of commitment was one of humility that showed he was submitting himself to the Father’s plans and path. One aspect of this is that it demonstrated for us that Jesus was not only fully God, but he was also fully man, which meant that in order to fully identify with us as humans, he needed to walk the same journey of faith, learning to listen and trust that each of us has to.

After his baptism, Scripture says that immediately a voice from heaven was heard saying, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased!” Jesus needed this affirmation from the Father, because it confirmed and cemented his identity as one who was not only God’s son, but that he was loved purely on that basis, and on no other accomplishment. The Father was pleased simply in WHO Jesus was, not what he had done or would do.


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Wonder

I woke up this morning with this song running through my mind and I felt the Lord was say to me that when we lose our wonder, all the things that we feel passionate about, social justice, theology, political hot topics just become religion. Then we become bitter, argumentative, angry, and unkind to those that don’t agree with us. I want to be filled with wonder and awe of Him. He is my balance, then I can go forward with my passion for social justice and all the things we as Christians feel passion about with His eyes.

 
~Submitted by Patty Faust