Friday, June 10, 2011

This weekend is R.O.T. time, the Republic of Texas Harley weekend. It will be challenging to get to church. But I am confident you can do it. And I am writing to strongly encourage you to be here, because more important than R.O.T. is PENTECOST! This Sunday, June 12, is the birthday of the church. Not OUR church, but of THE church. It's that weekend when we celebrate the rush of the Spirit's invigorating, birthing wind that calls us to be Christ's Body in the world.

The Strategic Plan Leadership team is going to use a significant portion of the worship service to report on what we have done, and what we still hope gets done, in our strategic efforts these past few years. We do that not only to help us celebrate some important, life-giving movement among us, but ALSO to help us turn our faces to the future as we begin to do some dreaming for the next five years. As I said at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount series, we have completed most of Chapter 1 of the plan; now it is time to examine the challenges we face and seek God's Spirit, as they did at Pentecost, for Chapter 2. Indeed, my reason for leading us on a 12 week journey through the Sermon on the Mount was to give us fresh insight and energy about the very foundational teachings of Jesus. We absolutely cannot go forward in any faithful manner without this strong foundation. My other reason in doing so, is that " the church" (universal) is facing a massive challenge of relevance with the need to critically examine if the New Wine of the Gospel needs, perhaps, some new wineskins. It certainly seems to me like the "old wineskins" are leaking!

My sermon title this Sunday is "The Once and Future Church", a title I borrowed from Loren Mead's wonderful book on church planning. I like his title because I think it affirms both the historic past and the strengths we still draw upon while asking us to lean into the future with new faith. I want this Sunday to be a kickoff to a series of church-wide conversations that will commence this fall. One POSSIBLE format is to hold a series of catered lunches after church with a facilitator dividing us into a few groups, each one dealing with an important question we face. I realize this could be chaotic, even threatening for some. I also realize that new birth is almost always seen in that manner and that later, the chaos and possible anxiety were well worth the effort.

So, smile at the Harley guys, be patient as you drive, and let's gather in anticipation of a celebration and commencement this Pentecost Sunday. And one more thing: Do wear orange, yellow or red this Sunday as reminders of the the flames of the Spirit's fire in our hearts. -Roger


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