As we seek to serve and be Christ’s witnesses to the world, we must first have a strong spiritual core, through our own spiritual disciplines – prayer and study of God’s word. With that foundation, we will be able to more fully appreciate the real depth and all-encompassing nature of God’s love, and we will also be better able to serve others and work for justice. Prayer is a core discipline, and our ministry starts there!
From the pastor…..
Dear First Christian Church family,
What a joyous Easter we shared together this year! Our sanctuary was filled with family, friends and guests joining us for the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord! What a fellowship, what a joy divine!
We are about to conclude a long period of discernment as to whether we will become (officially) an open and affirming congregation. As I have studied, prayed, and considered how best to engage this topic theologically with you, I am reminded of the banners that hang on the back wall of our sanctuary. I get to look at them each Sunday while I’m preaching, and so they are constantly speaking to me. “In essentials, unity” reads the first banner. Then comes, “In non-essentials, liberty”, and finally, “In all things, love.” Let’s start there, shall we?
Michael Kinnamon, noted Disciples theologian and leader in the Christian ecumenical movement, has said that “unity is not a human agreement, but a gift from God.” As we consider the tradition of the movement known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we affirm in our DNA that we are able to allow differences in opinion and doctrinal positions without destroying the fabric that is the body of Christ. The ability to present a shared witness as we do the Lord’s work is much more important than any one of us getting to declare a victory because we are “right” about any particular topic. To dwell together in unity despite differences of opinion and experience is not something we can engage without the grace that God provides to us all. That is why Kinnamon says it is a “gift” from God. How else could we all truly make room for all, love and allow for each one to be his/herself? When we say, “in non-essentials, liberty”, we speak to those human-derived traditions that have nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ or the call we have to love and service. Whenever I hear the stories of those who have been disillusioned and hurt by the church, it is usually as a result of some conflict over a “non-essential”, or a failure to allow for grace when there are differences of opinion. I’ve never heard of God actually hurting people, but I’ve heard of a lot of folks who have been hurt by church people! This kind of hurt happens when we focus on the humanly-derived traditions and practices and forget to live out the fullness of God’s love for all.
Love, I believe, is where it all begins and ends. We love because God loved us, and Jesus taught us that is because of our love that the world will know we are his disciples. In that God’s love knows no bounds, no limits, how then can we exclude anyone from the fullness of that love? We are all His creation, and we must remember that difference does NOT mean deficient. We may not understand what it means to be of another race, gender or sexual orientation, but we must never stand in a place where we make those who are not like us in a particular way inferior or less than human. To be inclusive and welcoming means that we acknowledge that everyone has a place at the table, that everyone’s voice matters, and that our community will very likely be different because there are simply more and different voices at the table! It means that leadership may include new and different voices, and that things may even change here and there! What a vision! We are all God’s children, and it will take of us, in the glorious diversity that God has ordained and created, to be the body of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world, bearing witness to the fullness and radical inclusion of God’s love.
No matter where you stand on the issue of becoming open and affirming, your voice will be heard, and you are a part of our community. If you missed the April 26 or May 3 sermons and want to discuss the theological and scriptural resources used in those sermons, please feel free to contact me. I am grateful for the conversation we are having, and I believe that God is pleased to know that we are engaged in a way that bears witness to unity, liberty and love that we find only through Christ! May we love and serve so that ALL will come to know that welcoming, unconditional love!
Loving each of you because God loves me,
Terri Hord Owens
Just what does it mean to be a “follower of Christ?” An old song asks more questions: “what do I have to do, what do I have to say? How do I have to walk each and every day? Tell me, what does it cost…?”
Sermon by Rev. Teresa Hord- Owens
January 25, 2015
We are exploring this theme in Church on Sunday. We believe that in addition to the dramatic demonstration of God’s love and grace Jesus provided a path to follow in his time on earth. I believe a big step is opening our hearts to all people. With all in the world today – this seems like a difficult step for so many. How can we help change this?