September 3rd, 2015
From nearly the first moment he’d met this teacher from who knows where, this fisherman saw in him something profoundly different–so different he couldn’t almost bear to be in His presence: “depart from me, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5).
Jesus had a way about Him that made men feel like they wanted to be better men, but wondered if they ever could. Peter at that moment had no idea just how imbued with the holiness of God this enigmatic teacher was.
It’s only later, when Jesus spontaneously asks his motley crew who they’ve come to think He is, that Peter exclaims, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus could only smile. He affirms His disciple’s Spirit-led realization, and then proclaims its significance for the future of His work:
You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Peter’s confession forms the very foundation of what it will mean to follow in Jesus’ steps. It’s also what will enable His people to withstand every assault–even those that led to death, as it did for Stephen.
But for Jesus to speak of His church as that which He builds, He implies that there is more to who His people are than just an assembly of like-minded individuals. There’s more to the work He intends than evangelizing and converting. He means to incorporate structure into the life of His redeemed that allows His purposes to be fulfilled in and through each one who becomes, as Peter later calls them, “living stones” (1 Pet 2:5)
For nearly five years now, CtK has been pleased to see Christ build one local expression of His church. The process hasn’t been without its challenges, but the work has proceeded.That work continues in what happens among us as we form new Community Groups in a couple weeks. Facilitators are praying and preparing for their new season of practicing faithful presence in smaller communities. You may have seen some of them inviting you to join on our City page. You can see the full roster of groups by clicking here.
The work of building His church will soon take on a new dimension as five people come together during September to learn together about what it will mean for the church to live out its mandate of mercy.
The women of our church have taken great strides over the last several months to imagine new ways for discipline and nurturing one another. A team is forming and plans are underway for a concerted effort to care for and mobilize our women.
But there’s yet another part of this work of building we’d like to reveal today.
Kevin Gladding has faithfully served as an intern for these last two years at CtK, while completing his M.Div at Redeemer Seminary. He’s focused his attention on the youth of our church, while also offering his gifts in preaching, teaching, and worship-leading. He and his wife Marisol and their baby daughter Sofia have been a faithful and winsome presence in our Body from the moment they arrived.
The Session is pleased to announce that it has issued a call for Kevin to become a part-time Assistant Pastor for CtK, pending the passing of his ordination exams. Kevin has demonstrated a dedication, skill and shepherding heart that will be an asset to our shared life together.
Kevin will in many ways continue and build upon the work he’s already been a part of. But he’ll soon participate in a variety of other aspects of our ministry, including the newly-forming Mercy Cohort, our corporate prayer ministry, pastoral care amid our whole congregation, and some other special projects.
While Kevin prepares for his ordination exams–which is no small undertaking with five separate written and oral exams–he will have a reduced set of responsibilities agreed on by the Session. He hopes to complete the presbytery’s requirements for ordination somewhere between this fall and early winter. (For you fastidious types, you can follow what all a candidate for ordination must fulfill in order to receive the “manifest approbation” of the presbytery by having a look at chapters 18 and 19 in our Book of Church Order.)
We elders are genuinely delighted to have Kevin formally join this work in due time, a feeling we know is shared by the congregation. We will give brief recognition to this news in Worship this Sunday. You are most welcome to congratulate him yourself.
Meanwhile, pray for Kevin and his family. Pray for his preparation for examination. Pray for his assimilation into the work ongoing. Pray for his protection from the Evil one.
Above all, give thanks. For all our frailties and failures, we are His church. And the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
Speaking of Kevin, his sermon last week came from Acts 7 concerning Stephen’s sermon. He wanted to share a little something more to supplement his preaching, and with the help of one of our own:
In the sermon last week, we were reminded that we are ‘storied’ people and that we continue in Christ to participate in redemptive plan of God – plan that climaxed in the coming of HIs Son, a plan that culminate when He comes again. But just as knowing our place in the story is imperative, so too is knowing the parts of the story that have preceded us and that continue to shape us. In fact, when we forget those parts, we lose the ability to orient ourselves rightly to our God and to our world. Remembering the story, then, is essential. To that end, our very own Cathy McAndrew has committed to memory and composed in song the entirety of the sermon passage from last week, plus some additional verses in chapter 6 that help frame the passage. She has rightly called it “The Ballad of Stephen,” for it is indeed a ballad – a story set to music. Our sincere and glad thanks go to Cathy for her work in recording this. And we offer it here for all to hear and to meditate on this story – our story. It will require about 20 minutes of your time, but that is a minuscule cost for what we know if great gain. So, as Cathy has said, get a good cup of coffee (or tea), and . . . enjoy the story!
Did we mentioned we’ve moved?
Effective this Sunday, we’ll gather in a new location for worship, teaching, and ministry. Canterbury Episcopal School has kindly entered into an agreement with CtK to allow us to use their upper school, Bishops Hall, on Sundays and other scheduled times.
Chairs were delivered today. A setup team will put things in order this Saturday.
Our schedule will be as usual, at least for the short-term. Worship at 9:30 followed by a 2nd hour Q&A. Second hour nursery is back in session as of this Sunday. Hooray!
A map to our location can be found here, 1708 N Westmoreland Rd. in DeSoto. We’ll gather towards the back of the campus as you can see here at right.
We ask your patience as we adjust to our new surroundings and welcome any hands-on help you see a need of in the weeks and months to come.
And again, when you hit the doors Sunday, give thanks. We’re thankful to have found this new setting for sharing life together and for bring prepared for our common mission far beyond these walls.
Finally, we’re due for a children’s sermon. So, true to form, let this be a little introduction to our theme this Sunday.