Upcoming Worship Series
Throughout the month of July, we encounter stories in the gospel readings that focus on the healing power of Jesus. Jesus’ power of healing began with the work that he was doing himself, but Jesus was also an effective leader and delegator—always extending the power to others to do the caring work. Despite Jesus’ frequent warnings not to tell anyone (the “Messianic secret”) of these healings, people began to spread word of Jesus’ and his disciples’ work. The more people who knew, the more people came seeking healing. Is this not how we would expect these events to unfold? The more widely the healing was proclaimed, the more people were drawn to Jesus. In time, large crowds numbering in the thousands came. What did he do? He fed them. Sharing loaves and fishes was more than sitting down and eating; it was a gracious offering of abundant mercy from the Son of God. Just as an abundance of people followed Jesus, an abundant meal was set before them.
It is important to realize that Jesus sent out his disciples to do this work. We are sent to do the same. First, we are called to offer and bring life wherever we go. We are then called to be a part of the church—a group sent forth to continue the example set by Jesus’ disciples. In this, we must become known. This is not a self-aggrandizing act, but one that draws crowds to Jesus so they may know healing. What are some ways that our church can become better known for the acts of mercy we perform in an ongoing way? Finally, all our works are to the same end: bringing people to the table of Christ, where grace is offered and received in the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup.
Week 1: July 1 Bring Life Mark 5:21-43
Week 2: July 8 Send Forth Mark 6:6b-13
Week 3: July 15 Become Known Mark 6:13-16
Week 4: July 22 Draw Crowds Mark 6:53-56
Week 5: July 29 Feed the World John 6:1-14
...In Love: Series Overview
According to Charles Wesley, Love is the “nature and… name” of God. Continuing with the text of Wesley’s epic hymn, “Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown,” God is not just “Love,” but “pure, Universal Love,” whose mercies move “to me, to all.” Therefore, the movement of love in the human community can be understood to be the movement of the Spirit as an offering of love for all people.
In this series of texts from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, there are concrete actions that Paul suggests, and they all have their foundation in the love of God. In the first week, Paul stresses the need for unity—not that all will be the same, but that all people have different gifts that complement each other and can be used in building up the entire body in love. In the second week, we are called to a very difficult task: “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph. 5:1-2, NRSV). What does it mean to imitate God? Earlier in this passage, Paul gives a helpful list of actions to consider. Week three encourages a return of love from the people to God by giving thanks and being filled with the Spirit. Lastly, the well-known passage related to the “whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11, NRSV) even has its groundings in love. Notice all the parts of the armor are not intended for violence but living out the love of God—in truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Spirit. We tend to focus upon the warlike images in this last passage, but the things they represent obviously point toward the love of God. In addition, the image of “standing” doesn’t necessarily mean “standing still.” This is an act of preparation, of getting up and getting ready. To do what? Well, that is in our response as a church.
As a part of this series, it will be just as important to focus upon “community” as “unity.” How can we accomplish the following?
Building one another up in love?
Living in love?
Giving thanks in love?
Moving in love?
During this series, it will be “Back to School Time”. Winchester City schools start Thursday, August 9 and Frederick County schools start on Wednesday, August 15th. What are some ways the church can act in love in the public witness of worship, and in the community, by preparing children and partnering with schools? What are acts of blessing and commissioning, whether for students or teachers, that can embody acts of love? Contact Rev. White and Lauren Clark (Worship Chair) with your ideas. May the love of God be felt, received, and shared as these and other actions are taken “...in love.” See the “Back to School Kick-off” information in this newsletter.
Week 1: August 5 Build Up Ephesians 4:1-16 Commission Teachers
Week 2: August 12 Live Ephesians 4:25-5:2 Commission Students
Week 3: August 19 Give Thanks Ephesians 5:15-20
Week 4: August 26 Move Ephesians 6:10-20 Prayers for Schools