Building a Community of Grace

Volume 2

Building a Community of Grace

We are now in the second week of our emphasis on “Building a Community of Grace.”   Jesus envisioned the Church to be an embassy of God’s Kingdom.   To represent God’s Kingdom in the world requires a dedicated group of people who are supportive of one another and who collectively gather regularly to share their own stories of how the King and his Kingdom have impacted their life.   As a Royal Ambassador in a Baptist Church, I learned the scripture text, “We are ambassadors for Christ [2 Cor. 5:20].”  This verse speaks to our identity and our commitments.  We each have a job, a calling, a duty, and a place.   What commitment have you been charged with?

There are many kinds of Churches in the world that call themselves Christian.  Some do not have great love for others and their message of Grace rings hollow.  Jesus came into the world and welcomed people as they were.   He then inspired them to embark upon their own spiritual journey to discover what His Own Spirit might do with their lives.  We are not copies of one another; we are unique representations of Christ himself.  We may not understand how the Scripture applies in the self-same way, but we do accept the responsibility to live out our lives in the same gracious and merciful way Jesus lived.  We only deeply come to life when we discover that taking on the yoke of Christ and living to reflect him in the world actually creates the peace and joy that often eludes us in life.

We are friends then, sharing with each other the gifts God has given us.  We gather for worship to stand under the proclamation of Scripture and await the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We attend to the needs of God’s people, and we commit ourselves to mission in the world to help others find the path toward Christ.

 

“The Peril of Doing Nothing”

This week, the message will be on the peril of doing nothing.  At the heart of this message is the question of what it means to be a Christian.   The great temptation of Christians is to reduce the call of God to seeing God’s touch on our lives as simply the benefits of: help, comfort, encouragement, strength and answers to prayer.  In such view, God is there for us and we get off with no obligation whatsoever.  If Christianity requires no great demand of us; neither can it inspire us to reach others in the name of Christ, compel us to gather each week for study and worship, or challenge us to give of our money (the most telling sign that we have encountered something powerful in God).

What if the demand of Christianity is deep, profound, unsettling, and hard?  What if we have simply ignored or covered over the expectation of God for our lives?    The book of Revelation tells us that we will be judged according to our deeds.   What are the deeds that will demonstrate that you have yielded to the summons of God to be about the work of God’s Kingdom?

The Saint Sargius Church in Cairo, Egypt, has a number of impressive columns inside the nave.  There is a column for each of the twelve disciples of Jesus.  On the face of each column there is a painted scene from the life and work of that particular disciple. On the column dedicated to Judas, however, there is absolutely nothing.  It bears mute testimony to the tragedy of a poorly lived life that gathers no fruit.  All persons need to believe that what they do is significant in the sight of God.  If their work has no value in God’s sight, they have no value.

We must help our people recover the glory in their jobs.  I have been struck by the meaning of the phrase Opus Dei or “work of God.”  What makes something a work of God?  Something is a work of God not because God does it.  In the terminology of Benedict, for example, the work of God is not a work done by God, but a work done for God.  This means that absolutely nothing is more an Opus Dei than another if it is done for the glory of God—whether washing wounds or washing windows.

Upcoming Important Dates

Pay for a Veteran’s meal [Veteran’s Day]: November 11.

Community Thanksgiving Service at First Methodist Church: Sunday November 19 at 4pm.

Family Advent Service: Wednesday, November 29th in Morgan Hall from 5-7pm

One Church Worship Service: Sunday, December 3rd at 11am.

Advent by Candlelight [for women only]: Sunday, December 3rd at 4pm.

 

Make Giving Easy

The things we love, we support and give to.   It is easy to get out of a habit of giving.  It particularly happens when you miss Church for several Sundays.  Ironic isn’t it that not giving can become a habit as well as giving.  While there are certainly seasons of life where giving to the ministry of your church may be justified, for the most part we can always give something, and we can all give regularly.  Jesus said, according to the Apostle Paul, that it is more Blessed to Give than Receive.   Prove it.    Set up the Church as a recipient on your “Bill Pay” or go on line to our website and give by means of your Credit Card.  You can even set up regular charges to your card.

 

Be in Prayer for:

The Associate Pastor Search Team

The Ministers and Support Staff

Our Nation and its Leaders

Our Young Families who seek wisdom in Parenting.

Our Senior Members whose health affects quality of life.

 

Volume 1

The launch for our emphasis entitled “Building a Community of Grace” is October 29th.

The goal of these weeks is to remind our congregation of God’s call upon their lives and how that call can be measured in the choices we make in our daily living.  When we all stop and think, we remember that there are certain experiences in life and certain qualities in character that give to live a sense of richness, fullness, and personal satisfaction.   These qualities will be imbedded within the worship services and worked into both sermon and special articles.

 

 

In this series, we will return to the basics of what it means to be a Christian.  While our faith certainly makes God accessible to us, that accessibility is not a one-way street.   God becomes our companion and guide, our comforter and Lord.  He blesses us even as we are expected to respond to the summons to live up to his dreams for us all.  God expects something of us.  We are to be numbered as children he can count on as he seeks to influence the world.   Jesus said we are salt and light.  If those ingredients lose their effectiveness or influence, they cease to have value to God.

At First Baptist Griffin, we see it as our goal to create a community; a community with specifically a heart of grace.   This means that we seek to demonstrate God’s welcome and blessing to those inside the walls of the Church as well as those outside.  Over the coming weeks, these are the sermons that we will reflect upon together:

 

When God Comes Knocking [Call]  Exodus 3:1-4; 3:20-4:19

The Peril of Doing Nothing [Service] Matthew 25:14-30

Whose Job is it Anyway? [Mission]  Luke 9:57-10:17

The Generosity of Love [Sacrifice] 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

 

 

 

 

 

When God Comes Knocking

How often do you want God to respond when you call out to him?  One out of ten times?  Five out of eight times?  Every time?   How often, do you imagine, does God want you to respond to him when he calls out to you?  Pause—and think deeply.

Perhaps you have never thought about God summoning you to act in his behalf.  Perhaps the idea of call is something that applies to others like ministers, but not to you.  The New Testament is filled with the idea of call to ordinary people.   Paul tells us we were “called” to belong to God.  We are “called” to serve his people and disciple the world.  The gift of life in Jesus is not offered just so we can enjoy the world more and eternity beyond this world.   Being ingrafted, adopted into the family of God means that we must now act like family and listen to our father who tells us that we have been set apart from the world to pattern our innermost selves and our actions after that of Jesus.  Paul tells us we are called to be conformed to the image of God’s dear Son.

To Build a Community of Grace means that we must think deeply about how we use our time, talents, and our treasures.   We live in an age where people’s time is stretched and they fail to think deeply about the significance of the simple decisions they make daily.  We have as much time as any other epoch in the history of the world.  Yet, our time is fraught with peril because of all the opportunities that are offered to us.   We don’t know how to say “no” to those opportunities, or at least limit them.   Reflecting upon comments by our speaker at the Senior Adult Celebration at our Church this past week, I grew up in a time that was less tempting.   I attended Sunday School, Morning Worship, Youth Choir, Snack Supper, Training Union, and Evening Worship—each Sunday!  First, discipleship training died.  Then, Evening Worship.  Then Youth Choir.  Then Sunday School for most.   Now, Morning Worship is seen as optional for Christians.   Have you ever deeply asked why?  It is because other things are more important.

Other things are more important.   We think we can offer God our goodness, and that will be enough to please God.  Our goodness is important, but it is going to take more than our goodness to be God’s salt and light.   It will take our commitment, involvement, our generosity, and our availability to assume major responsibilities to enable a community of grace to emerge in the midst of a world that is overtly hostile to all organized religion.  Otherwise, who will ensure that your grandchildren have a place of worship to retreat to when the world becomes dark?

Upcoming Important Dates

The 500th birthday of the Protestant Reformation: Thank Martin Luther!  October 31.

Sleep an hour longer: Sunday, November 5.

Pay for a Veteran’s meal [Veteran’s Day]: November 11.

Community Thanksgiving Service at First Methodist Church: Sunday, November 19.

Family Advent Service: Wednesday, November 29 in Morgan Hall from 5 to 7pm

One Church Worship Service: Sunday, December 3 at 11am.

Advent by Candlelight [for women only]: Sunday, December 3 at 4pm.

Church Conference in Gym: Sunday, December 17 at noon.

Choral Presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” December 17 at 6pm

Morning Worship on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, Only the 11am Services will be held, all other activities suspended for these two Sundays.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service: Sunday, December 24 at 5pm.

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