The Relationship with Our Church

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION For the word of God is alive and active. We invite the Holy Spirit to penetrate our thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Let us pray….

Almighty God, we humbly submit ourselves to your guidance from your Word as we pray, from the depths of our conscience: Let the seed of your Word, now sown among us, be rooted deeply within us. Let your Word bring forth your heavenly wisdom to be relevant to us today. O Heavenly Father, grant us your Holy Spirit, to bless our understanding of your most blessed will. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


ENCOUNTERING SCRIPTURE             Gen. 18:1-15        A Son Promised to Abraham and Sarah

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’  Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”


SCRIPTURE                        Hebrews 9:6-14                     The Earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuaries

Such preparations having been made, the priests go continually into the first tent to carry out their ritual duties; but only the high priest goes into the second, and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent is still standing. This is a symbol of the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various baptisms, regulations for the body imposed until the time comes to set things right. But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

Reformation Sunday, the Sunday that started it all. The first 400 years, Christians worshipped most in house churches, underground, or at least in small communities. The Christian faith spread like wildfire, while staying under the radar because in most parts, Christianity did not hold official status with political powers. Then Constantine recognized Christianity and became the first Roman Emperor to claim conversion. He decreed tolerance for Christianity and called for the first Council of Nicaea to establish ground rules for the faithful.

For the next 600 years there was one universal, small “c” catholic church. For practical purposes, it really stood for the big “C” Catholic Church. They lived in peace and harmony until a dispute over the Nicene Creed and the “filioque” clause that the Roman Catholic Church of the west added and the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church centered in Constantinople. Then the Western and the Eastern could not come to an agreement and the small “c” church divided. Now two main churches existed worshiping Christ.

All is well for about 500 years, then the Protestant Reformation attempted to alter the direction of the Roman Church and reclaim the basics of Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone, and Faith Alone, for God’s glory Alone. The Reformers did not set out to establish new denominations, but as prophetic voice to return to the core Christian values outline in the Bible to rely on Christ, be saved by God’s grace, to grow in faith, an in all things praise the glory of Almighty God.

Phyllis Tickle claims that every 500 years or so the Christian Church holds a huge rummage sale of ideas. She states that the Christian Church cleans out the old ideas of spirituality and develops new forms of worship. Other theologians agree that we are experience a dynamic shift in how Christians express their faith and view the church.

For a few hundred years of the Christian Church held influence in our society, politics, and important discussions. We claimed to be a Christian nation. Even those who did not go to church knew the Biblical Stories. While the US Constitution established no official religion, the Christian faith served as the predominate religion. In the 1950-60’s business men joined churches to make important professional contacts. Politicians could get elected if they wore their faith on their shirt sleeve and joined the biggest church in town. Everyone who wanted to be somebody, joined a church and claimed Christ as their Lord and Savior.

We now wake up to a new world, a post-modern society, and a post-Christian time. The Christian Church lost its position of authority and its influence on our culture. We now experience a generation of Americans who don’t attend church and don’t care. They don’t see Christ as relevant to their daily lives. They observe the failures of Christians to live up to the standards they profess, and determine that we’re all hypocrites. They do not need a Savior, their life seems complete without Jesus. Or they find Jesus, but no need for a church community.

Yet, the Christian community remains an important aspect of any congregation. Christ’s church continues to be a place of fellowship for God’s people gathering to fulfill God’s purpose in our community. As we’ve explored various relationships, people fall along an extensive continuum of degrees to their relationship with Christ’s church. Some attend weekly and only by being on their death bed will they miss worship. Some make a commitment to worship on the bi-weekly or monthly benefits plan. Others attend the hatch, match and dispatch philosophy of church, they come to be baptized, married, and buried. Others only darken the doors of a church when attending someone else’s funeral. I’d like you to think about your position church line.

Another way to look at the church continuum would be to see how people give of their time, talent, and treasure. Again, people hold differing depths of commitment to our church. Often, their commitment to worship also reflects their willingness to serve, share, and give. Those who would not miss worship, also generously share their God given talents and resources to further Christ’s work in the world.

Some gladly give of their time to accomplish the tasks of ministry and mission. If the doors are unlocked they are there. Others pick a certain number of projects that ignite their passion for Christ and serve with gladness. Others see the work of the church a duty of drudgery. Someone better do it or it won’t get done. They get the job done, but find no joy in serving. Others will wait for someone else and complain about how it got done.

Christ calls us to enter into a deep abiding relationship. God wants to spend time with us in worship so that we can be sent out in service our church in ministry and our neighbors in mission. This is accomplished when we dedicate all that we are, and all that we have to Christ and the work of our church. So as we enter into this time of wonder where God wants us to participate in the life and ministry of this congregation. How can God count on you to make a difference in this congregation as we move through a time of Reformation and doing ministry in a new way.  TGBTG. Amen.

  January 2018  
Bible Search