Monday, May 1, 2017

Letters from the Soul: This Month's Newsletter Column + Easter Sermon Series

May 2017: "The Earth We Own"

Dear Church,

There is a story, preserved by the Greek historian Arrian of Nicomedia, about the ancient Greek general and emperor Alexander the Great, who stretched the Greek Empire as far as what is now modern-day Pakistan and India. While there, he visited a brahmin who told the conquering general, "One day you'll be dead, and you'll own only as much of the earth that will suffice to cover you." Whatever our own ambitions may be--and however selfish those ambitions may be--we all face the same fate eventually.

Put another way, as a t-shirt I bought all the way back in high school says on the back, "He who dies with the most toys still dies."

Does this seem a morose or depressing way to open a church newsletter column? It should not, because we know that in Christ there is eternal life after death, and that with that eternal life comes no such need for the vast sums of resources that we stockpile here for ourselves on earth. No matter how much we try to hold on to, we never hold onto it forever--much as we may want to.

It is a lesson that can be taken to heart not only by individuals, but by churches and communities as well. We try to hang on bitterly to what we already have, seemingly unaware to the reality that perhaps God has been calling us to let go of it in order to create something new and wondrous to behold. We are called to surrender everything to God, but in truth that is often more difficult than it seems.

For the past year, that is a surrender that we have been willing to make for the sake of doing what is best for the body of Christ. Knowing that we have far more space than we need and that some of that space could go towards housing another congregation or ministry in town, FCC's membership generously put its faith in God's providence to allow for the possibility of finding new owners for our education building, and we hope to have some news for you concerning that process soon.

This represents, to me, a deep faith in the church as the people, not just the building or the land, and a recognition that the earth we own is not all the creation that God has called us to worship upon, and a willingness to believe in the good news of eternal life that the resurrection of Easter Sunday represents!

We appreciate your prayers and support as the church continues its revitalization and reinvention into a new vessel for its big faith in a promising future. As much as we take comfort in the aspects of church that are timeless, we must remain ever attuned to what God is calling us to do today, and tomorrow, and the day after as we continue to trust in the Word as taught, revealed, and embodied by Jesus Christ.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Eric

Whew! I've only been back from sabbatical a few weeks, and already we have spanned the gamut of Holy Week together, from Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the pain and agony of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to the uncertainty followed by celebration at the news of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. But as you may remember from my Easter Sunday message, God does not call us to simply be a resurrection people on one day out of the year, but on *all* days out of the year. In that spirit, the church season of Easter is not limited merely to Resurrection Sunday, but rather lasts fifty days until the Pentecost--the arrival of the Holy Spirit for the disciples--as conveyed to us in Acts 2.

This year, Pentecost falls on the first Sunday of June, so we'll be taking the entire month of May to continue the Easter season sermon series that we just began on the 23rd. This series takes a look at some of the most famous images of Jesus Christ throughout history and how they relate to critical roles that He inhabits in our spirituality. It ends with the image of Christ in the heavens as the almighty holder and judge of the world--the Pantokrator--which seems an apt image for transitioning in to the Pentecost narrative that takes place mere days after the ascension of Jesus into the heavens. I look forward to continuing to unpack this sermon series with you, and I hope you end up enjoying exploring it as much as I am!

Easter 2017: “Imago Christi: Titles and Images of the Living Christ”

May 7: “The Poimen o Kalos: The Good Shepherd,” John 10:1-16
May 14: “The Kyrios: The Lord,” Philippians 2:5-11
May 21: “The Christus Victor: The Victorious Christ,” 1 Peter 2:18-25
May 28: “The Pantokrator: The Almighty,” Revelation 21:22-26

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