Yesterday, we explored how a church community is meant to be a gathering, sometimes even just for fun and fellowship.
You might think church has always meant a religious gathering of Christians on Sunday morning. But in the Bible’s Greek language, church had another meaning before that. The Greek word for church is ekklesia which literally means “an assembly” or “gathering of people”. But not just for its own good. It’s called out to be and do something specific. This week’s passage says gathering together is not just for encouragement to love, but for encouragement to good works.
We are meant to be a preview of the world as God wants it to be. We are meant to make people say wow. Unlike the church I described yesterday, people are supposed to look at our community (even at its business meetings) and say, “Wow! That’s how we are supposed to relate with each other, and our world, and God. I can see it now!” They are meant to see the Kingdom of God in us.
Aristides was a philosopher in Athens in the second century and he observed the first Christians, the early church, and this is what he recorded about them in 125 AD.
“They walk in humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them. They love one another. He that has distributes liberally to him that does not have. If they see a stranger they bring him under their own roof and rejoice over him as if he were their own brother.”
Aristides looked at that first church, that earliest gathering of Christians and he said WOW.
Have you ever looked at a team, group or organization and said, wow? Why? Think of the Snowbirds, or a great dance troupe.
Our church today meant to make people say wow…because of our generosity and love of one another, that spills over to the lives of others near us.
We’re intending to becoming this kind of church through our discussion groups first, and also when our discussion groups come together as one community for celebration.
Challenge: If you’re not already meeting with a group, please do. What act of generosity and service can you do with your discussion group, or family, that will make others in your life say wow? Think of one thing internal to your group that you do for each other, and one thing your group does for others.
Reminder: Last week we saw the importance of reading the Bible together in sync, so our new daily bible readings start today in our mobile app and web site.
Read the Bible in Sync Today
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So why do Christians gather to worship week in and week out? The answer is that there are at least three very good reasons: to acknowledge God’s presence and worth, to remember that we are not alone but part of a community that is growing and learning, and to offer a visible witness to ourselves and others. But when we gather to worship for these reasons, what do we do? We celebrate!
The keynote of worship is celebration. At times in its long and winding history the church has lost its sight of this. But that is what Sunday mornings are all about—celebrating who we know God is (wow—he is our Father) --celebrating what Jesus has done for us (wow—set us free from the consequences of our sin)---celebrating that can live in relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit (wow---we are not alone).
God is a God who throws parties. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Jesus told adults to keep their eyes on the children if they wanted to know what God is like. Left on their own, adults develop strange ideas of what worship should be. …in the purely adult world, God frequently comes across as a cranky old grandfather..but children seem to know instinctively that God likes celebration.
Christians are people who are called to live in community, and we are a community of learners. We need to realize how impossible it is to be a Christian on our own, not to mention half the fun.
As Redeemer Church comes together, we’ll have three approaches to worship, in order:
Personal: We encourage you to engage in prayer, particularly on Fridays. We also hope you’ll have personal moments of worship to thank God for what happens in your life day to day.
Small Groups: As you share our challenges with friends, we hope your Friday prayers will no longer be something quiet and personal but something you share with the team. Share the moments when God was at work in your life, and pray about them!
Celebration Events: Up to now, our celebration events have been just about fun, but in a few months we’ll start to host events with worship component. We want to hear from you what will help you worship God as part of a larger community.
Challenge: Complete our online survey about worship here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8TS7K93
Reminder: Earlier in this series, we saw the importance of reading the Bible together in sync, so our new daily bible readings start today in our mobile app and web site.
This series looks at becoming “like family” with others learning to follow Jesus. We're exploring how the church is not a building, institution or event, but a community of people. It's important that explore what church means as we prepare to launch a new church in Ajax in 2014.