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April 2nd, 2015
How was your Lent?
The question may strike your ears as a bit odd? “How was it supposed to be,” you might ask in response? Our tradition has its own ambivalence about giving any greater weight to particular days or seasons, concerned that efforts to “observe” certain days differently than others smacks of the ritualistic excesses in other traditions (despite those traditions’ awareness and efforts to rein them in).
Lent, as we mentioned at its beginning, is an invitation to set aside the rituals you’ve unwitting adopted–and, yes, you have them–in order to redirect your attention (and attention is everything) in a different, or only less diffuse, direction. A direction that focuses on your soul’s need of clarification and refinement, like the act of having dross skimmed from the surface of a pure metal. We spent Lent looking at Jesus identity for its own sake, and for the sake of seeing our identity in light of His.
We also offered you some ideas on how to invest your time in alignment with the tone of the season. You’ll probably see this again at the beginning of next year’s Lent, but Andy Crouch’s thoughts on his own Lenten practice (whom we’ve been glad to reference often) offer both one person’s understanding of his need for a season of change, but also the ways in which modern life subtly conspires to siphon away something needful in us.
But while memorization makes the words more accessible–heightening the possibility of actually taking note of their meaning–training you mind to recall the words is only the beginning. That’s why we also pointed you to the import of meditation. Words mentally gathered make it easier to glean them for their goodness. If these are in fact words of life, then suckling on them like newborns do with milk is an obvious implication of memorization.
Yet both memorization and meditation are both means to a larger end: maturation. It’s only a mental and contemplative exercise unless the meaning and import of the words internalized begin to shape our living. So starting this Sunday we’ll take what we hope will be the next step in making the matter of Romans 8…well…matter.
Whether you memorized the chapter or are just acquainted with it, you’ll note that chapter 8 is the closest thing to a paean of praise for the Gospel of God in Christ in all of Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome. It is the culmination of the argument he’s made thus far in the letter, and all else he says derives in large part from what he covers in this seminal chapter. And it reads like an oration as much as a letter–words you can imagine being heralded from a high place.
So for the next six weeks, we’re going to devote sermons to the six paragraphs therein. And we’re entitling the series “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” Each week we’ll find in that paragraph one blessing given in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (And each week we’ll hear from one of those who memorized some or all of the chapter recite that week’s passage.)
The lineup will go something like this:
- the blessing of an inviolable freedom (vv.1-8)
- the blessing of a comprehensive vitality (vv. 9-11)
- the blessing of an indissoluble identity (vv. 12-17)
- the blessing of an indestructible hope (vv. 18-25)
- the blessing of an indefatigable help (vv. 26-30)
- the blessing of an unconquerable love (vv. 30-39)
So I really welcome your prayers. If I may be candid, it is one thing to memorize a passage–quite another to understand precisely what you’ve memorized means! I dare say my grasp of all Paul is getting at in this pithy chapter is inversely proportional to my memory of his words.
Lent isn’t for Lent’s sake, but for the love it means to nurture in us. Let’s see (and pray) if we can find the greater purpose(s) behind memorizing 39 verses.
We began a ministry of Community Groups last fall. Three groups have formed since then. We’re looking to form more groups soon–even some short summer groups. If you’d like to know more about what these groups are like, what they are for, and what it would mean to be a CG facilitator, have a look at our summaries of those questions, and our FAQ sheet. If you’d like to ask questions, or inquire about the role of facilitator, email us.
It’s been a few months since we apprised you of our renewed search for a location for CtK. We thought it was time to give you an update, though there’s not much to say. The long and the short of it is that our realtor has presented us with looks at quite a few spots in, or near, our search area. As yet, none have stood out as fitting our needs or our means. But we’ve known that a search of this kind, and in this region, would take time and patience. So let us reiterate our request for your prayers for our search, for your patience with the process, and for your help in alerting us to possibilities you come across.
Community Quick Hits
- Our need for Nursery Coordinators–yes a team effort–remains. Karla Pollock can answer your questions.
- First Sunday Lunch happens again May 3rd. Details forthcoming about what to bring
- Our next Intro to CtK Saturday falls on May 16th, 10a-3p. Email Imelda for more information or to register–including whether you’ll need childcare.
When you pray, remember to pray for
- the girls abducted, now a year ago, by Boko Haram
- our parents of newborns: the Elams & Chambillas–and soon-to-be: Martinezes, and Garmons
- our officer candidates now taking their written exams and preparing for interviews
- our current elders who gather this weekend to pray and plan for the next season of CtK’s ministry
As a prelude, of sorts, to Sunday’s sermon, here’s a recent interview with our beloved David Brooks (HT: Jim Akovenko) about his recent book on the building of character. The response (and fallout) has been remarkable. The point I’ll make from his musings has to do with what the Apostle Paul means by “the flesh.” That word has, I think, more to do with what Brooks’ book is teaching against than any prurient connotations typically associated with it. (Technical issues has made this a problematic clip; apologies in advance if it fails to load. You can find original post here.)