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United

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God calls the people of faith to live in unity with one another, so it is important to make every effort to live together in harmony with other fellow believers. Three key quotes from the New International Version of Scripture read:

1 Corinthians 1:10 
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Ephesians 4:11-13
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Colossians 3:13-14
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Unity is more than a philosophy or a posture.  Unity, according to Jesus in John 17, is the reflection of the nature of the Father and the Son.  In Paul’s letters, he uses the illustration of the body: Romans 12:4, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,” and 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit...”

This unity is not something that we must work to achieve or attain. It already exists. It does not refer to organizational unity, but rather to the organic unity which the Holy Spirit produces when He baptizes us all into the one body of Christ through the new birth. Christ broke down the barrier between Jews and Gentiles and brought them together in the one new creation. Paul makes a bold declaration when he says: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”—Galatians 3:28 (NRSV).

There will be much discussion about unity as we approach the Special Session of the General Conference to be held on February 23-26 in St. Louis. See more information of this gathering of the UMC.  My prayer is that we will not lose sight of the Biblical mandate of unity and the power such collective strength will reflect from the church to a world that is often fractured and easily divided. In Christ we are One!

 Grace and Peace,

David

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Advent Coming

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Advent means “Coming.” It has been a mark of the beginning of the Christian year and the season to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Advent is a time to celebrate that even in the midst of exile, darkness, and despair that “God is with us—Emmanuel.” Advent consists of four Sundays before the 12-day season of Christmas. The colors are purple and/or blue for mourning and repentance. The only exception in some congregations has been the third Sunday known as “Gaudete” (Rejoice Sunday) when a rose or pink colored candle is used. An Advent wreath is a common symbol of this season. One candle is lit each of the weeks up to Christmas Eve when the Christ Candle is lit.

This year we will explore the messages of “How to Find…Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.”  We have become a DIY (Do It Yourself) culture. Our spiritual lives are more than weekend fixer-up projects. There are seldom quick fixes for any of our spiritual conditions. We begin to look for practical ways to engage our faith and to use the spiritual disciplines of prayer, scripture, means of grace, fasting and generous giving to discover the foundations of this season. 

  • Hope is more than wishful thinking.
  • Love is beyond the kindness shared with family or stranger.
  • Joy is the song that sings even in the darkest night.
  • Peace is the tranquil stillness before the God of all creation.

 How do we find these gifts? How do we encounter the living God who seeks to transform our lives by the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ? Come to worship on December 2, December 9, December 16 and December 23 to gain the tools to help you know How to Find. You may also discover that your family, neighbors, or friends might be more open to an invitation to join you in church during this season of the year than any other single time. Take the chance to invite them to come. Invitation cards are available at the Connect Desk for you to mail or drop off to a friend.  Be prepared to learn new ways to be obedient to the power of God with us.

 Praying for an Advent Blessing,

Pastor David

Information on everything happening for Advent and Christmas can be found HERE.

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Disturb Us, Lord

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DISTURB US, LORD

REV. DAVID BROWN

I recently came across a piece of music performed by Larnelle Harris: DISTURB US, LORD by Tony Wood/Lee Black/Dave Clark

 Disturb us, Lord When worldly things delight us and we fail to look above
When we withhold from others though we’ve been given much
If the fire of our first love’s not burning bright as before
Disturb us, Lord
Disturb us, Lord
When we’re not in your Word and we don’t spend time on our knees
When we have a chance but we don’t speak the truth that sets men free
If we don’t worship you with fiery passion anymore
Disturb us, Lord
Sometimes in your great love, You comfort the troubled
But other times in your great love, You trouble the comfortable
Disturb us, Lord
If our lives never touch the lives of those still in the dark
If we don’t live with hearts that break for things that break your heart
In tenderness please lead your church back to your heart once more
Disturb us, Lord
If we ever lose the wonder of the cross that you once bore
Disturb us, Lord
Disturb us, Lord

This prayer has spoken to me in such powerful ways. When we do not cherish the first-love of Jesus. Christ. When our ministries are no longer about us but how we serve others, we know the Lord has moved us from our places of ease to the power of redemptive love. Praying that God will not leave us in apathy or worse contentment. Each day affords the Lord to stir our hearts once again to follow after Christ and to offer the power of the gospel in every aspect of the church and our community. Often it is easy to think that one issue or another issue ‘disturbs’ us, but not enough for action. This prayer seeks the power of the Holy Spirit to stir us in the embrace of the power of the cross. Join me in praying this prayer during the summer. Let’s make it a season that will cause us to discover what is at the heart of God for our community and the mission of Armstrong Chapel.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor David

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