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Recalling the Acts of the Apostles

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The Book of Acts contains the most dramatic account of the explosive growth of the early Christian communities. It details the outreach to widows and orphans, devotion to prayer and study, and ultimately, the spreading of the Good News story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is clear that the early followers attended worship in the synagogues and Jerusalem Temple. They also shared all things “in common,” suggesting that homes and businesses were the places that day-to-day ministry was experienced.  So, when did we shift from the church being a dynamic community that adapted to the needs of the world in light of the gospel witness?  In the mid-1970’s, my home church sang a chorus that strikes at the cord of this question. “The church is not a building. The church is not a steeple. The church is not a resting place. The church is the people! I am the church, you are the church; we are the church together. All of God’s people, all around the world, yes we’re the church together.” It’s amazing that I recall this simple chorus yet how profound this truth holds for the Christian community today. 

The early circuit riders spread scriptural holiness across the frontier. They were driven to organize small classes of communities that gave birth to the small chapels that dot the landscape. In the last 200 years, we have watched the transformation of society. Horse-riding preachers gave way to automobiles; pony express gave way to daily mail delivery and now, e-mail and instantaneous messaging/Facebook; flat boats and wagons gave way to canal boats, railways and then, thanks to the Wright Brothers, air flight. News reports from travelers gave way to radio and now, television 24-hour news and Internet updates.

Let’s remember that as the early witnesses of the resurrection offered the message of salvation to everyone that would be receptive, we too can join the “Acts of the Apostles” and offer the risen Christ through every element of the ministry at Armstrong Chapel.

Grace and Peace,

David

Posted by David Brown with
in Easter

Death Where is Your Sting

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“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).” – John 20:16, NRSV

All hope was lost. The body of Jesus was gone; Jesus, the one in whom Mary Magdalene and so many others had put their hope could not be found. The followers of Jesus laid down their nets, left their homes and families, and followed Jesus. Mary had followed Jesus all the way to the cross, all the way through his journey of suffering a humiliating death on a cross. She had come to attend to his body.  Mary was still following Jesus. In her grief, Mary could not recognize the man in front of her. She mistook Jesus, the one she sought, for a gardener.

It was not until Jesus called her name that she was able to see him. Almost as soon as Jesus called her name, he had somewhere for Mary Magdalene to go and something to say. Mary was sent to tell the disciples all she had seen at the tomb that day, how she went ready to prepare a body for its final rest and instead heard and then saw Jesus. 

Jesus’ voice is calling still today, calling his church to tell the world that we have seen the Lord. We are called to demonstrate through word and deed that God’s love for us will go to the depths of a tomb and overcome death to remain with us.

Prayer 
God of love, we are grateful for the gift of Jesus’ love that included the laying down of his life, that overcame death and offers us life, freedom and hope today. Open our hearts that we might love and give as Jesus did, generously for the sake of work of God’s reign today. Amen.

Posted by UMC Mission Moments with
in Youth

Elevation 2018 - Spies Like Us

SPIES LIKE US - Elevation Theme 2018


6 And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear
them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones.—Numbers 14:6-10


After hundreds of years, most of them as slaves, the tribe of Abraham emerged ready to become a nation. Well, almost ready. As they stood at the edge of the Promised Land they sent 12 spies to go check it out. They came back with beautiful fruit and marvelous stories of the land that was just laying across the Jordan River. However, they saw the inhabitants of the land and said (my paraphrase), “They are too big… too strong… no way!” So, they lied. They skewed their report of the land. All of them except for two; Joshua and Caleb. These two brave guys stood up to everyone and said (my paraphrase again), “We got this! This place is amazing and the Lord in on our side.” They were met with threats of stoning by the people! 

Somehow in a mere two years during which the Lord delivered them from the hand of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and fed them with quail and manna, led them by fire, gave them water from a rock, the tabernacle, a glowing Moses, and the 10 commandments only 3 (inducing Moses) could sense the Lord’s leading. For their lack of faith, they earned 38 years more wandering in the wilderness as God crafted and formed them into a people that would trust His guidance.

The two questions I wonder about is: Why wasn’t two enough? How could they miss this opportunity laying at their feet? I quite often ponder these two same questions in our individual lives and in our life together as the Church. So, often we have voices crying out and pointing saying, “Look, over here, the Lord is preparing to move!” or even, “the Lord is already ON the move.” Yet, so often we ignore these pleas because all we can hear are the voices saying, “No, it’s too big, they are too strong, you have so much other stuff to do, or it’s not the way we’ve always done it.”

Who knows, maybe the Israelites after two years had reverted back to a tribe type mentality (always on the move) to the point where most of them couldn’t even fathom themselves as a nation. Maybe we get caught up in the same tendencies stuck in a routine and can’t fathom what it  would look like to follow the Lord into uncharted territories.

Especially, when the voices paint a picture of doom and gloom. Voices that say, “Oh if you miss that ______ (insert whatever) camp you’ll never _______ (insert random punishment),” or “No! It’s not good to be vulnerable in a small group, that’s a sign of weakness. Don’t go! You have too much work to do anyway.” So, instead, we miss the opportunity to commune with the Lord, break His kingdom into this world, and/or miss the opportunity minister to others. 

I don’t know about you, but I want to be spies like Joshua and Caleb. Spies willing to sift through the voices to find the call of the Lord. Spies willing to set aside cultural expectations and routines to jump in where fruit is blossoming and the harvest is ripe, which is always a mark of the Lord’s presence. In the ministries and work of Armstrong Chapel and the
broader church around us, the Lord is on the move. The Lord is setting in front of us glorious opportunities to experience Him and new ways to ring about His kingdom! Don’t let your ears tune Him out because the masses of the culture of the world or the culture of the old ways are drowning Him out.


Blessings,
Pastor Kyle

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