Easter: Endings and New Beginnings

Spiritual Formation Center

by Scott Murphy

“And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. . . The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, He has been raised from the dead.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.” Matthew 28:1-9

 Easter! The very sound of this sacred word is filled with life. The journey we have taken during the Lenten season now brings us to stand firmly in this sacred day where Easter…

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What do you seek in 2016?

Christmas 2015 is now part of history. The New Year 2016 is several days old as I write these words. And our journey through time marches forward, full of challenges and opportunities for each of us in the days ahead.

What you do with 2016 is partly a matter of chance… but mostly a matter of choice. And the choices are yours!

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The Love Response

Spiritual Formation Center

by Dustin Davis (Spiritual Formation Team)

Last week we learned of another mass shooting in the United States, a term so
commonplace now that it even has a definition: four or more people killed by gun
violence in a single incident. This one occurred at Umpqua Community College in
Oregon.

What has followed since then has been the now routine response from news outlets,
politicians, advocates on both sides of the gun control debate, and from citizens. And it
seems that apathy is becoming our “new normal” in the face of what was once shocking
and impossible violence. A friend I follow on Twitter posted, “The scariest thing about
today’s mass shooting is not the shooting itself, buy my apathetic response to things like
this now.” I saw many other comments in the same vein.

My favorite call-in show on my local radio station asked last Friday how listeners cope

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Jesus Resurrected!

Easter Resurrection: What’s the impact on you?

It’s Easter 2015! Today, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

But what does this event of nearly 2000 years ago have to do with you today?  Everything!

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Jesus: Living Water

Easter Saturday: Jesus went to Hell?

In my post yesterday (Good Friday, a time to Pause), we explored briefly the suffering and abuse of Jesus, leading up to his death on the cross around 3 pm, when he cried out “It is Finished!”.  After the Romans confirmed that Jesus was dead, his body was handed off to Joseph of Arimathea.  Joseph was a follower of Jesus, and already had a nearby tomb where they could place Jesus’ body.

Due to the approaching “sundown” Sabbath restrictions on work, they hastily prepared Jesus body for temporary storage, and placed him in the tomb, sealing it with a large rock.  Additionally, we read that the Roman military placed guards on the tomb, to protect it from “radicals”.

And yet, even though Jesus’ body was dead, he was not!

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Jesus Praying

Good Friday: A time to pause

Today, we recognize a day titled “Good Friday”.  It’s a day to pause and remember the physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse that Jesus encountered, on his way to his “Good Friday” execution on the cross, nearly 2000 years ago.

Jesus wasn’t killed.  Jesus allowed himself to be sacrificed by the powers of the world, as a personal gift to you and me… and for ALL people through all ages.  It was a sacrificial gift from Jesus, that each of us are free to CHOOSE to accept, or to reject.  What is the choice that Jesus is offering us?

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Easter: an opportunity for Invitation

Easter is one of those times of opportunity, when people sometimes feel a tug from the Holy Spirit, or a undefined desire, to maybe explore this “church” thing… when maybe that thought isn’t high on their awareness list during other parts of the year.  Sure, nearly everyone plays the “pretend easter” game, with bunny chocolates, purchasing gifts, etc.  But still, the “real” meaning of Easter lurks just below the surface… and people read with increased interest, about local and area church activities, events, and opportunities to explore “what is this really about”.

Build on existing or newly formed relationships, and be a blessing to help your family, friends & neighbors in their exploration of Jesus, religion, church, faith, prayer, and the “rest of the story”, by inviting them to “go with you” as you make your plans to attend Maundy Thursday activities, Good Friday activities, and Easter worship and related events.

This Easter 2015 could be the start of a new journey toward Jesus in their life… and it all could hinge on whether you choose to “Invite People to Christ”.

  • If they say “no”, accept that as a “no, not  right now”, and keep building a relationship of trust and keep inviting them in the future.  God’s Spirit will continue to work with them too!
  • If they say “yes”, be a loving, welcoming, encouraging partner during their visit, and help them to experience the “Blessings of Community”, the “Worth of All Persons”, and to begin a journey where they too can encounter the living, resurrected Jesus, who wants to walk with and bless each of us here in 2015!

Their first visit is the hardest.  To help you understand that, let me share a Facebook post from Saturday, that I read yesterday:

“I am attending my first CoC service tomorrow. I haven’t been to any church in a few years, aside from s few family obligations with my Orthodox Mormon family. It feels odd to ask for tips but I don’t know how else to phrase it. I’ve been looking for a new spiritual home for sometime now 🙂 “

Thirty-four people (at least) provided comments, encouragement, “tips”, and testimonies, of how Community of Christ has blessed their spiritual and life journey!

You can be the disciple that INVITES someone who is also at this point of “I’ve been looking”.  I offer the following verses from latter day scripture, for your consideration and encouragement on this important task of inviting:

  • 164:2b (2010):  In harmony with God’s will, the Holy Spirit leads some people already committed to Jesus Christ through Christian baptism to further focus their response through church membership.
  • 164:2e (2010): bear witness to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, which weaves people’s giftedness into beautiful patterns of community to enrich their discipleship and to strengthen the fabric of the church.
  • 163:8c (2007): the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls, as a fulfillment of the vision for which Jesus Christ sacrificed his life.
  • 162:3a-b (2004): 3a. Do not be discouraged. You have not been promised an easy path, but you have been assured that the Spirit that calls you will also accompany you. b. That Spirit is even now touching alive the souls of those who feel the passion of discipleship burning deeply within. Many others will respond if you are persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.
  • Words of Counsel (2013): Lovingly invite others to experience the good news of new life in community with Christ. Opportunities abound in your daily lives if you choose to see them.

Let’s each choose to follow God’s Spirit, who is already working ahead of us in people’s lives, preparing them to respond to your invitation.  Don’t judge their “readiness”.  Merely offer the invitation to journey with you, based on the relationship you already have with each person!

Want to learn more?  Explore with us at www.CofChrist.org.
Or click here to Find a congregation nearby.

A personal Palm Sunday

Some 2000 years ago, Jesus rode into Jerusalem, on the back of a donkey.  He did that intentionally. Kings, and Roman military leaders, rode horses – a symbol of worldly power and authority. Jesus’ power and presence is NOT of this world.

Jesus came to serve, heal, encourage, teach, and lead the people of our world, into a new way of living; a new way of being in relationship together, based on the foundation of “the greatest commandments”:  Love God. And Love each other, the way you love yourself!

There’s nothing wrong with loving yourself… as long as it’s a healthy, strengthening and encouraging love, led and empowered by the presence and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit at work in and through your life. With that level of “love of self”, you’re empowered to repent when you find you’ve made an error, seek forgiveness from God, self and others, choose to undo the damage of your errors, and enjoy the blessings of a fresh, new start.

This “foundation” allows us to grow beyond our past, to be freed from the burdens of our past, and to learn to “love” the person that God created us to become.  That love then, empowers us to love others in the same healing, forgiving way. Loving others demonstrates the Love that comes from God, generously poured out on each of us.

We cannot earn that love; we cannot deserve it.  It is available to us as a generous gift, available merely by accepting the gift! Jesus rode into Jerusalem with a new message of Love.  He arrived as a servant, not as a conquering king.

Today, Jesus asks to ride into YOUR heart and life, in a new way.  He brings the same message of Love, healing, hope, encouragement, and a new future.  That future is offered to you as a gift, unconditionally, through God’s Love.

Tomorrow does NOT have to be a repeat of yesterday! Jesus is not entering as a “conqueror” into your life, but rather as a servant/friend, inviting you onto a new journey, a new direction, with a new partner & guide.

As we approach Palm Sunday 2015 tomorrow, open the “gates” of your life… welcome Jesus with joy, celebration, and invitation.  Allow Him to show himself to you in new ways, through the community gathered in His name: Community of Christ.

You can find a welcoming, inviting, safe Community of Christ congregation near you.  We’re found in over 60 nations of the world.  Local congregations can be located here: http://www.cofchrist.org/find-a-congregation

Allow yourself to begin to experience the presence and ministry of the living Jesus on this Palm Sunday.  Let Him change your life in ways you’ve never imagined.  You’ll be amazed!

Come, and journey with Community of Christ, as we work together to change today’s world into God’s Kingdom on Earth, one life at a time!

Hope for a Hopeless Church by Zac Harmon-McLaughlin

Wonderful perspective on a kingdom-focused church, rather than a “building”, “event” or “program” based church! Thanks Zac!

Missional Conversations

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Every time I log onto Facebook or Twitter or any social media outlet, my news feed will undoubtedly show an article or two. I get articles such as, “10 Reasons Millennials Are Leaving Your Church” or “Why I Left Church” or “Brunch is My New Worship.” Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you experienced this?

If this weren’t enough reason to cause fear or anxiety about the state of faith, many churches are struggling financially. This includes my own, Community of Christ. I know that for most of us declining numbers cause fear and concern about our future. When we see a decline of people in the pews and a decline of contributors, somehow we think the “church” is dying.

I want to tell you why this is not true. I want to tell you how I am seeing faith explode in the everyday. I want to tell…

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Mission is … Disruptive

It is SO tempting to focus on MY list, MY schedule, MY comfort. Here we’re reminded of our stewardship of relationships too… being there FOR God in the lives of others!

Young Adult Ministries

disruptive

Reblogged from:Missional Conversations

Philip was walking down the road (Acts 8: 26 – 39). David was tending sheep (1 Samuel 16: 5 – 13). Mary, a young teenager, was minding her own business (Luke 1: 26 – 36). Peter and Andrew were fishing (Matthew 4: 18 – 22). In the midst of our lives, we are confronted with the call and invitation of the Holy Spirit. It intrudes upon our routines. It throws off our norms and unsettles our logic. Through the witness of scripture and the ongoing story of the church, we find one example after another, story after story, lives and backgrounds and skills as different as we can imagine, being disrupted by the missio Dei, the mission of God. Engaging in Christ’s mission means opening ourselves up to the probability of change, both within us, and on our plans and actions.

The other day I…

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