April 30th, 2015
By now you know of the devastating news out of Nepal. Thousands have died after a massive earthquake, one of the largest in the last hundred years. Thousands more are now homeless.
The global mission arm of our denomination, Mission to the World (MTW), is in partnership with several churches, schools, and a home for widows in the small nation tucked beneath its massive neighbor China. As you can read here from Lloyd Kim of MTW, the church in Nepal has both suffered great loss and also given opportunity to come to the aid of its stricken citizenry.
This Sunday we’d like to take an additional special offering on behalf of the churches in Nepal, directing those monies to MTW so that it might wisely distribute them. (We’d humbly ask any offering would be, not in place of, but over and above your ordinary giving.) Checks can be made out to CtK, but with the designation “MTW-Nepal” in the memo line.
We reminded you in the last Backstory of CtK’s recent efforts to bring coordination to our ministry to (and by) the women of our community. The survey we mentioned in that post is now available. (You can click on that link, or complete it below!) We’d ask that each and every woman in our church take a few moments to answer these several questions. Your answers will provide information vital to our thinking, praying, and planning. If you have any questions about the survey, or about women’s ministry in general, feel free to contact Karla Pollock.
Thanks for taking the survey, ladies!
As CtK has grown, and with it the need for new efforts and ministries, the need for leadership has grown commensurately. Last year we began a new season of training for prospective officer candidates. That process entailed consideration of bible and theology, shepherding and mercy, leadership and polity. It’s been months of in-depth reading, praying, and discussion.
That training has at last come to an end (though no officer is ever finished with growing into the role) and we’re ready to present a slate of those prepared to stand for nomination.
Nomination forms will be available in hard-copy form this Sunday. Nominations will be due by the following Sunday, May 10th. An election will be held June 14th and an ordination service convened soon thereafter.
We give thanks for all those who have participated in the process, and are now pleased to share whom we’ve trained, examined, and now put before you for consideration as an officer of CtK.
The latest incarnation of Cinderella framed our consideration last Sunday of Paul’s words about the spiritual life. I mentioned at the outset of the sermon a review of Disney’s new version, published at The Rabbit Room, a blog on the intersection of art and Christian faith. You can read that review here, entitled “The Audacity of Cinderella,” by Rebecca Reynolds.
Why does this story endure?
How does this story uniquely encapsulate the Gospel?
Those are questions Ms. Reynolds attends to–and several others.
We also mentioned that the uniqueness of a Christian understanding of spirituality is that it holds to the notion of an actual person, the Holy Spirit, becoming a continual presence in the life of one who’s come to see Jesus as both God and good. That presence is akin to the idea of someone moving in with you, which is why Paul likens the ministry of the Holy Spirit as one who dwells in you.
Given the fact that the Spirit has taken up residence in us, we asked ourselves at the end of the sermon whether we were being good hosts. Are we attentive, responsive, and desirous of the pleasure of the Spirit who’s come to live in us? In her regular missive this week, our friend in distant W. Africa, Kyria Johnson, cited C.S. Lewis’ vivid characterization of how the Spirit’s dwelling in us maps to our lived experience:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. … The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said. (Mere Christianity)
Last Sunday was devoted to establishing the reality of the Spirit’s work in us. This Sunday we turn to how the Spirit does that work. As with Aslan, the Holy Spirit is no “tame” personage. He is out to kill what’s killing us. But we’re participants in that work of mortification, the act of putting to death” the deeds of the body.
Here’s the thing though. Putting to death what’s killing us is less a matter of seeing the vacuity of what appears to us so alluring. It is, as we’d spent time exploring during Lent, mostly a matter of facing up to who we are, acknowledging and living into the identity we’ve been given. The premise of the sermon is that most everything we think, feel and do is shaped in large part by what we think is true of who we are. So the spiritual life centers on identity. And in Christ we’ve been given an indissoluble one.
Few things can reinforce that received identity than the Table Jesus set for us. It’s to that Table we come again this Sunday.
We’re in verses 12-17 from Romans 8 (Brad Keating will be reciting the passage!)
And as an aside, sermon illustrations come from the strangest, and most disparate, places.
This scene from Steven Spielberg’s Munich (2006) may set up the sermon.
And this scene from that slapstick cult-classic, The Three Amigos, may find its way in, too.
Did we mention we’re having our quarterly First Sunday Potluck this Sunday? You should come. Here’s the skinny.
Finally, when you pray, remember to pray for
- the Nepalese now reeling from the earthquake
- the Syriac Christians still fleeing ISIS
- the city of Baltimore still in turmoil over the death of Freddie Gray
- Sandi Holzwarth in the loss of her brother
- the Rayl family, having reached the one-year mark serving in Japan
- our need of new coordinators for our vital nursery ministry
And for no other reason than we were felling nostalgic at a bit of news this week, we close with this random factoid:
She was a manager of an OfficeMax, a wife, and mother of two children.
She was also the little red-headed daughter who played tambourine in The Partridge Family.
Suzanne Crough died this week at the age of 52.