Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Letters from the Soul: Newsletter Column + Upcoming Sermon Series!

January 2016: "New Year, New Ministry"

Dear Church,

January is always a month of newness, whether it's the six-month gym membership that you'll cancel by President's Day, or the resolution to not eat dessert that falls by the wayside as soon as the first batch of Valentine's Day chocolates comes rolling in, or, in a far less cynical way, a new group to add to our burgeoning small group network here at FCC!

We currently have three small groups exclusively for women: the Lydia and Ana Gobledale circles who have been stalwarts since long before I arrived, and the Blessed New Beginnings circle that was founded a year ago and has already done lots of amazing work in and around the church with our first-ever Fall Festival in October plus many of our current missions like our just-wrapped Christmas gift drive for the Emergency Support Shelter, both of which were big successes!

To keep building on this amazing momentum, we are excited to announce new small group for men (official name to be determined!) to parallel the start of the Blessed New Beginnings group, and with a similar purpose of promoting prayer and fellowship for its members, combined with the potential for mission opportunities in the local community.

What all of that looks like, though, is up to you if you choose to attend! The first meeting of this new men's group will be at 12:30 pm (after worship) on Sunday, January 10th, in the upstairs pool table room in the main FCC building. It's open to any and all who identify as guys--if you feel like you're a chap, you're more than welcome here! Please feel free to invite friends as well if you know they would be interested in being a part of such a group.

The aim of this first meeting will be to try to establish some goals for what the group's meaning and purpose in our lives as well as a schedule for future meetings and possible activities. If you would like to attend but can't, no worries--just send me an e-mail at some point or come by the office so that I can catch you up!

One note I do wish to make in announcing this great news--while FCC is beginning to transition to a model of small groups as a means of providing fellowship and purposeful, religious enrichment outside of Sunday morning worship, that does not mean our commitment to our existing groups like our Bible studies and our lunches is any less! Many churches may be wedded to one model or the other, but I don't believe that we here at FCC Longview have to be! A major strength of our church's identity has always been a fabric of theological, inter-generational, and even political diversity, and I fully intend to keep fostering that identity going into the year 2016.

I wish you and yours a happy and blessed New Year!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Eric

Upcoming Sermon Series: January 2016

A new year, a new sermon series right? Almost! Before we begin our first sermon series of 2016, there is the matter of remembering the Epiphany--the day that the wise men (or magi) are traditionally said to have arrived to worship the newborn Jesus as recalled in by Matthew in the second chapter of his Gospel. That day on the calendar is January 6, so we'll be taking the Sunday before Epiphany to re-read and explore that story together as I give a rare one-off message, before taking that next Sunday, the 10th, to kick off a new sermon series that will take us through the rest of January.

About a decade ago, I got to go see Mount Rushmore on vacation with my family, and it is as iconic in person as it is in, say North by Northwest or the even the Family Guy episode parodying North by Northwest! The images of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt (Theodore) and Lincoln all gazing back out at you--and at America--is quite a humbling experience. Several months ago, recalling that experience in my memory made me wonder what a Mount Rushmore not of my country but of my church might look like...what four Christians have most influenced my own faith and my personal walk with God?

After much prayer and deliberation, I arrived at the quartet of St. Teresa of Avila, Soren Kierkegaard, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Nelson Mandela. Relegated to the second team were a great many amazing writers and theologians like C.S. Lewis and Paul Tillich, but these are the four who have produced some work of words that has affected my faith like few other words outside of Scripture have, and I'll be sharing my faith as it relates to each of them with you, one Sunday at a time, in a new sermon series that has been months in the making, and that I am delighted to at long last share with you!

I'll see you Sunday,
Pastor Eric

January 3 (Epiphany Sunday): “By Another Road,” Matthew 2:1-12

Post-Epiphany sermon series: “A Mount Rushmore of the Soul: Who Influences Your Faith?” 

January 10: “Christ Has No Hands but Yours,” St. Teresa of Avila, Mark 8:22-25
January 17: “Love is the Fundamental Revolution,” Soren Kierkegaard, Matthew 22:34-39
January 24: “Bound to Christ,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John 11:38-44
January 31: “A Sinner Who Keeps on Trying,” Nelson Mandela, Luke 18:9-14

1 comment:

  1. A great list! Looking forward to the next sermon series. And I am so glad you happily remember that trip to Mt Rushmore, even with the long, long drive.