We have recently been through a renewal time where First Christian Church and I, as the Pastor, spent three months apart focusing on Belonging, Boundaries, Balance. We are now back together and in the process of sharing our learnings and insights so that the renewal can continue. Expanding on the renewal, our theme for the 2017-18 year will be Living Christ, Liberating Spirit, Loving Disciples – For Such a Time as This.
Living Christ – As people who celebrate Easter, we understand that the tomb could not hold Jesus. So on Easter Sunday we shout, “Christ is Alive!” And we understand that we belong together as church. Together we are the Body of Christ. We are Christ’s hands and feet in this world. So “Living Christ” is both a declaration of what is, and a call to be that which we proclaim.
Liberating Spirit – The Spirit of God or Holy Spirit is the power that allows us to be true to our call as God’s children and followers of Jesus Christ. The Spirit liberates us from the chains that would keep us bound to past mistakes or ways that destroy the goodness of the Christ-life, so we rejoice in the “Liberating Spirit” that brings balance to life.
Loving Disciples – In the Gospel of John we read Jesus’ instructions to his disciples as they gather together on the night before he was crucified. He washed their feet and gave them a “new commandment” to love one another just as he had loved them. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” “Loving Disciples” is what we want others to see and hear and experience from we who follow Jesus. Love is a very important boundary that makes visible Christ living in us. Jesus’ higher righteousness grounded in love helps us stay true to God’s vision and dream for how we are to behave and treat ourselves and one another. Living Christ, Liberating Spirit, Loving Disciples.
For Such A Time As This – The news is full of stories about division, hatred, and strife in our communities, in our country, and in our world. People are feeling both disconnected from one another and often even hostile toward those different from themselves. Technology has made possible so many changes that are coming faster than we can keep up. And in the midst of “Such A Time As This” people can feel powerless and want to throw up their hands in despair. In the book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, a young Jewish woman became queen, but the King did not know she was Jewish. One of the King’s advisors convinced him to kill all the Jews. So Esther’s uncle comes to her and says, “For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) Esther surely felt powerless to speak up to the King, yet she was in the right place at the right time to speak up and she did! And the Jewish people were spared. For Such A Time As This.
This year we will explore how our faith calls us to be and what our faith calls us to do in our time. We know that just as there are stories that illustrate “how bad” it is, there are also stories that illustrate the Living Christ in our time. We need to tune ourselves in to see the good and share it with one another. We must not remain silent, but rather echo in word and deed and attitude the Christ-life we share. May the renewal that began following Easter continue to open our hearts and give us wisdom and energy to be Loving Disciples for such a time as this!