by Ben Panter
As we lead up to Easter this year, our sermon series focuses on the last 7 things Jesus said on the cross. So throughout the series we'll be focusing on one statement a week in reflection on what it meant for Jesus as he said it, as well as what it means for us this Easter season. And with each statement, we've included an image or symbol that helps to illustrate or remind us some of the meaning. Throughout history art has been used to communicate deep truths at the visual level, so we wanted to give a short description of some of the intended meanings in these images to give you a starting point for your own reflection.
Three Nails - the implements of suffering and judgement.
In this case, there is a literal representation of the three nails: two for Jesus' hands, and one for his feet. This can serve as a reminder that these nails that were rightfully intended for us, but instead we placed them in the willing hands and feet of our savior.
City with a Tree - an eternal destination
This image is a representation of paradise as a city, which at its center has the tree of life. Additionally there are the "alpha" and "omega" symbols, which come out of the book of Revelations where Jesus refers to himself as "the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end". These images can speak many truths, but some of the key ones would be the upheld promise of Heaven or "Paradise" as a real destination that the follows of Jesus go when we dies. It also shows Paradise as being connected to the Garden of Eden, God's original paradise that will be restored. And lastly, it is a reminder that Jesus is eternal and rules eternally.
Last weekend we had a great, hands-on seminar led by Pastor Mark that walked everyone through a step-by-step process of reading the Psalms of Lament. Over 200 adults attended and it was a great morning, but we know there are more that would have liked to be there. So you can watch the seminar below as well as download the resources for your own use (but you'll have to supply your own highlighters!).
With each new sermon series we try to supply a handful of additional resources for you to explore. Books, podcasts and music can all help you go deeper into your understanding of the key themes being discussed each week. For this most recent series on lament there are a bunch we'd like you to be aware of.
A New Liturgy No 7: Lament
This video is by A New Liturgy and blends between a worship and spoken word lament. Take a few minutes and listen to this unfold.
Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament
Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of David
by Faith Parker
“Joy to the world the Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing”
This beloved Christmas carol, by Isaac Watts, is based on Psalm 98. It is an exuberant, all creation rollicking Hallelujah for the coming salvation of the LORD. God has remembered us and the world is rocking with delight!
As delightful as the carol is, the joyful words can feel distant to our experience. There is often energy in the holidays, but not necessarily joy. Life spins into lists of must dos with not a space to spare. Perhaps that is why the third line in the stanza stands out. “Let every heart prepare Him room.” This is the one thing, which necessarily precedes singing with joy.
How does one make room for Christ? How can a space be made where there is not space for one more thing? Humbly. There can be no joyous reception if the room is already occupied. Pride has no room for another. It is too busy with its own inflated concerns, but humility gives way.
We're all familiar with that age-old question, "What do I get so-and-so for Christmas"? Do they really need another toy, or book, or novelty coffee mug? While there is a certain amount of joy and cheer to be found in getting that "perfect gift", it also easy to look at our tendency to turn our own sacred holidays into consumeristic blitzes.
Don't fear, I'm not here to say we should do without, or do with less (although it's always worth considering). But I do want to offer some alternative gifts that might stand for something bigger, that in and of themselves are worth celebrating. So here are three gifts to consider giving to help extend and deepen the joy of giving this year.
1. Compassion International Gifts
You may be familiar with Compassion International and the incredible child sponsoring program they operate around the world. But did you know you can also give one time gifts to meet specific needs. It runs the full gamut from delivering bibles in the native language, to sponsoring hygiene classes and supplies, to sending food, providing chickens, goats or cows for a family or digging wells. Gifts of all dollar values can be put to great use, and you can give a gift on someone's behalf, and then give them a nice card that fully explains what the money went to support. I would also say that this is a great way for a family or community group to each contribute something and then see how far your money can go by all being generous together.
by Pastor Jim
Down through the years many people have described our involvement in worldwide missions in three simple words. Pray. Give. Go. There is something about this that rings true, simple as it is. As we read the Bible it is easy to discover that God has a desire to reach all people of the world with the message of the Gospel. From the Old Testament through the New Testament we read where God moves people to declare who He is. He told Jonah to proclaim Him to the Ninevites. Jeremiah’s instruction was to stand strong in declaring the majesty and truth of God to a people who only wanted things for themselves. And Daniel was pulled from his country as a youth and spent the rest of his life in a pagan nation strongly standing for and proclaiming the truth of a God greater than any king.
When Peter was told to go visit the Roman Cornelius he was fulfilling the commission to “go and tell all the world”. Paul sacrificed much of his life and personal resources in proclaiming the saving grace of Jesus to all the known world. And John, the apostle, stood firm even in exile and persecution as he declared the majesty and glory of a loving Savior.
Here at FCC we have continued to give people the opportunity to be involved in worldwide missions. Down through the years we have gone to at least 18 different places in the US and around the world on short term mission’s trips. We have given opportunity for people to invest in the lives of missionaries and various groups so that the Gospel can be spread and we continue to try to keep the congregation up to date on ways to pray for our missionaries.
We have several ways you can get involved in Praying, Giving and even Going over the next few months.
by Mark Willey
I am really excited about a new sermon series on the promises of God , that will run most Sundays from October thru January.
Called “The Key of Promise”, the series takes its name from an event in Pilgrim’s Progress. Christian and Hopeful are thrown into the dungeon of Doubting Castle. For four days they are brutally beaten by the cruel lord of the castle, Giant Despair.
On the eve of their execution, Christian remembers a key. In his exhausted weakness he exclaims, “What a fool I am, to lie in a stinking Dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty. I have a Key in my pocket called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any Lock in Doubting Castle.” The key works! And the two pilgrims escape the horrors of imprisonment to Doubting Castle and Giant Despair.
God’s promises are His means of delivering us from the darkness of our fear, worry, self hatred, rejection, and a multitude of other struggles that land us in the prison cell of despair and doubt.
This series focuses on some of the great promises of God to his people. They bring us hope and inspire our faith. We will repeatedly see two things that enable you to endorse these promises in your life.
About a year ago we launched into a series on the book of Romans together and with it we began a "Common Life" series of devotional books. In the introduction of the first book it says " this small book offers a way for our whole church family to reflect on Christ together during the ordinary rhythm of our weekdays".
So what I'm posing to you now is, maybe it's a good time for you to revisit this series. I don't know where you were in life a year ago or how closely you were able to follow along throughout the Romans sermons. But I do know that our need for reminders of who Christ is and daily reflection is just as relevant now as it was a year ago. And a slow walk through the book of Romans and all the related passages may be just what you need this Fall.
You may also find value in revisiting the Common Life Book if you were able to follow along with the readings and questions originally. If you think about it like journaling, there is a lot gained through the process of writing, but even more can be learned and appreciated if you look back to see what God was teaching you in the past. And I think that looking back will fill you with gratitude and a renewed perspective on where and how God has been leading you and answering prayers.
So, if you still have your book, pull it out and start working through the readings one week at a time. And if you don't have it anymore or never had one, you can use a digital copy that is available for download here. I hope you find the daily practices and readings to be rich and fulfilling.
by Lisa Meyers
Wouldn’t you love to be called “irresistible?” Any person would. We often call desserts or babies “irresistible.” What would it be like if our church was called “irresistible?” That’s the word that Sib Charles of Joni and Friends uses to describe a church where every individual is loved, honored and celebrated… even those with disabilities. An “Irresistible Church” is an authentic church built on the HOPE of Christ and one which compels people to come and join in. It’s a place where people feel they truly belong.
At FCC we work to be a place where people belong. We have a volunteer team who welcomes and greets visitors each Sunday. We host a monthly Welcome Party to introduce newcomers to the pastoral staff. We periodically hold classes for new attendees to share with them our church convictions and programs. But do we embrace disability universally across the congregation? It’s a question our kids’ ministry staff has been asking now for a few years. And the answer we keep coming back to is, “we want to be like that. We want to offer the HOPE of Jesus to all children, including those with special needs.”
This past summer FCC hosted a seminar on Autism, one of the prominent diagnoses for children with disabilities today. Our speaker dispelled some myths about ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
The Word of Life Camp in Belize included all the things you expect a camp to have; games, swimming, fun, food and lots of action. But the best part is spending time with campers and camp staff as we get to share Christ with them.